Where we learn about sex

A fun weekend poll for the masses!  If you answer it, you’ll see the compiled answers.

The thing to think about in the context of this poll is that these are all places and ways your own children and teenagers can and do learn about sex and sexuality.  If your first choice is for them to learn about this topic from you, you will need to be both more present and a more compassionate listener in order to get and keep their attention.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. That’s a very interesting poll, Karen! Thank you for posting it.

    I’ll go ahead and say what I said:

    My mother and father, although the information they gave me was NOT ACCURATE.

    A sex ed class I took at church was fairly informative (and it wasn’t even UU!).

    Books I read about sex ed were also pretty informative.

    We had a brief sex ed class at school, but it didn’t cover anything I didn’t already know, so I didn’t vote for that.

    And, I pretty much ignored friends, dates, and popular culture, so I didn’t vote for those either. We won’t discuss aliens now. 😀

  2. I’m honestly surprised nobody picked the supernatural poll option, especially in multi-choice like this… But then again I couldn’t honestly pick it either, though, so I think if nothing else, it’s a successful poll ambience. If anyone does pick that option, please elaborate here in the comments! I would love to hear from someone who leared like that, no insinuations involved!

    As for myself, I checked informative book, Osmosis, and t3h !|\|t3r\/\/3bs

    My mom was very supportive and open, but, at least not to my memory, ever elaborated much. It was a healthy message, though, mostly centering around “sex, well, it feels good so people like to have it” and such things. Though, for a lot of that, my menta reaction was bucking constantly against the concept of physical pleasure as any important impetus. Now, being a fair bit more mature, I can see that she meant it as much more than just that, that only being a component. Not much information-wise, though, so wasn’t a checkmark.

    I heard some more from conversations between my sister (myage+7) and mom, and general hear and such at school and such, just little grains of sand that built up in my ears, kinda summed that all up with the osmosis option.

    There’s a Children’s Encyclopedia downstairs that I first noticed to look up sex and biology and development and such. It was basic, yep, but basic had enough base information in a pretty simple and objective way, easily consumable (which was probably the intent) that it opened the door for learning more. There were a couple more that also built up this part, but they’re not as important, or at least not as far as I remember. There is one more book that deserves mentioning here, and that would be “Sexual Hauntings through the Ages,” which I stumbled onto. It wasn’t instructive, but more than the ‘this is what sex is,’ it held no illusions (pun not intended) and offered a bit of insight into what was ‘normal’ and what wasn’t. That wasn’t what I got from reading it at the time, and I only remembered it now, but it still merits a mention.

    I learned a lot more, the ‘muscles and flesh’ from the internet in the midst of an identity crisis. I found a lot of pretty solid sites in the process for that, and those linked me to lots of good sites for this, which took me past biological matters into the realm of sexuality, a taste, hardly more than a film over the physical base of knowledge.

    I didn’t delve much into it until some time later when I entered the network of sites like yours, Dr. Rayne. Yours had a link to Go Ask Alice! and HR Reality check had a link to Scarleteen and I scoured and more or less consumed the two sites. Between those three and yours, I went from the ‘knowing’ part of it to the ‘thinking’ part of it, and I’ve been ‘thinking’ ever since.

    Aha, I’ve been overly verbose all day, I’m afraid. My apologies for the long-winded …supercomment?


  3. Hmm… Ok. I’ll share. My choices were my friends, a book and by doing it. I did limit myself to my teenage years, or I wold have been able to check a couple more. My father came to talk to me after my mother found me reading the book that came with the encyclopedia’s health set. Really he didn’t have anything to say except that if I had any questions after reading the book, to come and talk to him. I also remember sex ed being a part of High School health class, but I don’t remember it being much that I didn’t already know (Abstinence was mentioned as the only way to be 100% certain in avoiding pregnancy and STD’s, which we covered in graphic detail, but there was a healthy amount of class time devoted to discussing condoms and other methods of birth control).

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