How Do I Discuss To My Kids About STD’s And STI’s?

Cathy: How do you talk to your kids about STD’s and STI’s?
I’m here with J.D aka Jen Devine from and I’m Cathy Vartuli from and it’s a big thing now like when I was growing up nobody talked about STD’s or STI’s. They assumed they weren’t having sex even though some of them were. My 12th grade best friend got pregnant so she apparently something happened but people don’t you know like how do you talk to them about it? How much do you share and how do you not freak them out and make them really scared about stuff?

Jen: Well, I think it’s one of those things that you include in the conversations that you have about bodies and how things work and doing it in a way that is not stigmatizing. It’s really important from the very beginning. So for younger kids like there’s about STD, STI what the heck is that?

Cathy: What is that? Yeah.

Jen: Sexually….right Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections. So you have to kind of define those big words especially if you’re talking to little kids.

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: So, sexually sometimes bodies touch and they might include their genitals so that’s sexually. Transmitted going from one person to another. Diseases and infections most people know what that is.

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: It’s like you know common cold,

Cathy: The cold…. Achu!

Jen: little tiny things that get in our body is that like most of the bacteria and viruses that hang out with us are pretty friendly and but some of them can cause somebody some harm or be really dangerous to us so letting kids know what those things are. So, then for younger kids often it’s just letting them know that those things exist so that like yeah, well kids aren’t doing this sexually because they’re usually not getting their bodies together with other people with consent because kids can’t always get consent right….right? So they’re not doing the sex thing kids, right? Hopefully

Cathy: Hopefully.

Jen: Although…..okay, going off intention maybe starting again, we’ll have to do that thing again.

Cathy We’ll have another video about that.

Jen: Okay, so….but letting kids know that like when bodies come together there are sometimes little diseases or bacteria that might go from one person to another person and they can sometimes go between genitals or between mouths between mouths and genitals and sometimes some other ways too. So for younger kids are you that’s usually what I mean when I explain what they are but I also say you know and there’s great ways people can protect themselves from some of those things that can go between people.

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: and you know what a lot of young people commonly choose is just to not let their bodies touch in that way like that’s actually pretty common kids and even young teens most of the time they’re not doing sexual things and so far they’re more safer but sometimes people want to do things that are the sexually things

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: Right? Sexual things.

Cathy: Well, I think having them know what….what to do if they decide

Jen: Yeah.

Cathy: to is a big thing.

Jen: Right and then knowing which things are risky, right? So they know which things they do need to protect for and making sure they know about like there’s behavioral protection like choosing that “oh, you have a cold sore. I don’t think it’s a great time to make out with you right now.”

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: Alright? So no…..they can choose a behavior that’s less risky, barriers things that they can put between themselves in another person like a condom or a latex glove

Cathy: Saran wrap

Jen: saran wrap, various things. There’s vaccines that they can get protected by so there are like four….three vaccines that are pretty common a hepatitis A and hepatitis B usually kids are vaccinated for and just because public schools often require that already and then the human papillomavirus vaccine which all genders can now get which used to protect against only four of the human papillomavirus but now there’s Gardasil 9 brand name but it’s the only one available 9 of the 40 types of HPV that type like to live in genitals. You know there are hundreds of types of those viruses that are around but it’s nice to protect against the ones that are most commonly associated with cancers or warts. So yeah so for little kids just letting them know what they are and that they exist so if bodies come together they need to know a lot about that and help them know that they need to get more information so as they get older. Figuring how to protect so that they can still have fun and not stigmatize the fact that you know in some places 90% of people are going to get STD’s of one sort or another although you know herpes didn’t even used to be considered an STD.

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: Whatever

Cathy: It’s when

Jen: It’s like ovos.

Cathy: they came with a treatment for. They decided to make it disease.

Jen: Exactly. Exactly. So

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: Yeah. So not stigmatizing the fact that many people are going to bump into these viruses and bacteria and protozoa and

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: parasites

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: in their lives and you know we can all live healthy happy lives even if we have something that’s living with us.

Cathy: Yeah. A…..a friend of mine talks about the most common STI is the common cold and it really normalized it for me it’s like wow I’ve had the cold I survived. It’s not

Jen: Right.

Cathy: shameful.

Jen: Well and think about it when you have a cold like we tell our friends, right? We say to our friend “Ah, I don’t feel very good today.

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: My nose is plugged up. I have a cold.”

Cathy: Don’t share my soda today.

Jen: Right and people will say “oh, I have empathy for you….you have a cold” but you feel the stigma of how STD’s get talked about if somebody comes into your workplace and say “oh

Cathy: Like oh, no.

Jen: I got gonorrhea live the throat last week and I felt terrible but I got it you know I thought it’s still a little scratchy but I’m done treatment.” People give the…..the look or like you know we don’t get to talk about it in a normalizing way

Cathy: Right.

Jen: when many people have bumped into things with their genitals or their mouths and if we could just talk about it and say “oh…..yeah

Cathy: Well, I had a little

Jen: I had a little outbreak last week. There’s a little sore when I peed” you know like people maybe would get a little less weird about it.

Cathy: Yeah, well and when if people got tested more often too

Jen: Absolutely.

Cathy: that’s….a lot of the treatments are actually surprisingly easy if you know you have it.

Jen: Absolutely you know and then you know act…..acting….acting responsibly meaning like you know what’s your thinking and like know information and then you know condoms, barriers and getting tested and then the adjunct to that is of course talking again talking more because talking about stuff is also

Cathy: Yeah

Jen: the antidote because then people can choose less risky behaviors

Cathy: Yeah

Jen: each time they make a decision.

Cathy: Yeah. Well, that’s wonderful.

Jen: Yeah.

Cathy: Do you go into the individual like syphilis, gonorrhea?

Jen: Oh yeah. I mean when it gets to the middle school I go into detail about everything with the younger kids in elementary school I don’t I might just ask them which ones they’ve heard of and rattle off the names of the 20 or so over to

Cathy: But you have [Inaudible 00:06:27]

Jen: cover in more detail but that that age group they’re not going to retain that kind of information. Though it’s good for them to hear the names and know that

Cathy: And normalize a little bit

Jen: and normalize what they are. Yeah, with high school kids you can go into all the cool details about how virus is replicated and what bacteria’s do and how antibiotics work and all that nerdy fun stuff.

Cathy: Yeah

Jen: Yeah

Cathy: That’s great.

Jen: Yeah

Cathy: Thank you very much.

Jen: Yeah

Cathy: We hope this helped. Please leave comments below. Let us know if you have questions, thoughts, and concerns. We’d love to know.