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SEX ED FOR PARENTS?

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by Justin Jones and Alison Hogan

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Here’s another local claim to fame:  Rockland County is one of three test sites in the nation  (with Portland, ME and Tucson, AZ) to gauge the effectiveness of Real Life. Real Talk — a program aptly dubbed sex ed for parents.

   The program, which organizes groups of parents in a community to get together and share concerns and information about kids and sexual activity, is aimed at “positively changing the social climate in communities by creating more open, honest, and balanced talk about sex and health.”



  Through parent group meetings and an informative website, realliferealtalk.org, the program, initiated by Planned Parenthood Federation of America in partnership with community organizations and funded by the Ford Foundation, promotes effective communication between parents and their teens about sex and health. Its primary focus is to get parents to be more open and honest with their children about sex and how their young lives and health can be affected by their actions. 

    “Sex Ed for Parents” is a free 90-minute workshop that offers expert advice to parents, informing them about the realities facing today’s teens. It explains the latest statistical teen data as well as the behaviors of teens, in person and online.  And it discusses the way teens are bombarded by sex in marketing. It gives parents a forum to gain valuable information on the best way to reach their young adults on many touchy areas, and to recognize that they share the same concerns and apprehension as other parents. 

   Rockland’s “Sex Ed for Parents” advisory committee is made up of local residents who work in the community, people like Thom Kleiner, Orangetown Supervisor; Dr. Lisa Lieberman, Clarkstown School Board member; Dr. Stella Mars, community liaison specialist to the Rockland County Commission on Human Rights; Edie Miller, Nanuet parent and executive at Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory; and Dr. Sharon Quayle, M.D., Nyack parent and obstetrician/gynecologist.  The committee members work with community groups like local schools, libraries, churches, temples, non-profit organizations and local healthcare facilities to host workshops and local “Sex Ed for Parents” at-home parties to get the adult airwaves flowing. In August, advisory committee member Lieberman hosted the first Rockland-based “Sex Ed for Parents” party at her home in New City, to very positive response. “Women with kids of all ages came to the party. It was a really nice mix of people and the energy throughout the party was amazing,” she reports. “We watched a film, had some follow-up activities and games, as well as discussions. The feedback after the event was really encouraging; I hope this program will continue to grow.”At-home parties last two hours.

   Rockland’s Real Life Real Talk arm is also hosting a weekly 30-minute show on Rockland Radio, anchored by Tiffany Card, and geared to parents. Archived shows and upcoming broadcasts can be listened to online at www.rocklandworldradio.com/programs/wed.

   When the Real Life Real Talk program was pitched to the community last spring, Molly Gibeau-Griffin, executive director of Rockland Parent Child Center, jumped all over the idea of hosting an event and now is one of its many partners.

   “Once the ‘Sex Ed for Parents’ workshop was pitched to the community, I was drawn to it,” says Gibeau-Griffin. “Any program that relates to increasing effective communication with adolescents, we’re interested in. The presentation itself is wonderful because you can tailor it for multiple workshops. We held an event titled  ‘How to talk to your child about sexual development’ last April at the Nyack Center, and it was great because the parents had a chance to express themselves and the kids were provided with refreshments and daycare services. The most important thing is not discussing the act of sex but the reality and ramifications — STDs, HIV, AIDS, and pregnancy. It’s something parents and the community should not take lightly, because it’s just not about getting pregnant anymore, it’s about saving your life.”

   Other community partners of Real Life Real Talk are as follows: VCS, Rockland Radio, Rockland Parent Child Center, Rockland Family Shelter,  The Rockland Council on Alcoholism & Other Drug Dependence (RCADD), Riverspace, Planned Parenthood, Reform Temple of Suffern, Orangetown Jewish Center, NOW Rockland County Chapter, Nyack Center, JCCY of Rockland, Grace Episocpal Church Nyack, Finkelstein Memorial Library, Maximum Interactive, The Nyack Library, Healthy Concepts Research (HCRI), Generation Counseling & Training, Every Person Influences Children (EPIC), Courageous Loving, Child Care Resources of Rockland, Community Awareness Network for A Drug Free Life and Environment, Inc. (CANDLE).

   Upcoming “Sex Ed for Parents” groups will meet on October 13, at 10:30am, at the Nyack Library, 59 S. Main Street; and on October 20, also at 10:30am, at the Finkelstein Memorial Library, 24 Chestnut Street, Spring Valley.  There will also be an evening with Debra Haffner, author of From Diapers to Dating and Beyond the Big Talk, at 7pm, on November 8, at the Nyack Center, 58 Depew Avenue. 

   More information can be found at www.realliferealtalk.org.



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