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Helping Parents and Caregivers Talk about HIV/AIDS and Sexuality Issues

March 23, 2001

Organizations nationwide are increasingly offering help to parents and caregivers who want to talk to their children about sexuality-related issues, including HIV/AIDS.

The following organizations are among the many who provide assistance through programs, publications, and other resources.

Spotlight on Programs

Cornell University Cooperative Extension

The Parent HIV/AIDS Education Project of the Cornell University Cooperative Extension created a curriculum titled Talking with Kids about AIDS to prepare individuals to work with parents, guardians, and other adults to teach them the skills needed to communicate effectively with children and teens.

The Project invites small groups of parents and guardians to attend a series of three workshops conducted by volunteer peer facilitators in a community setting. The facilitators use interactive adult education techniques to enhance participants' sense of self-efficacy as well as their grasp of accurate information about HIV/AIDS.

For more information: Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Education Center, 16 East 34th Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10016-4328; Phone: 212/340-2900; Fax: 212/340-2908; E-mail:; Web site:

Girls, Inc.

The Growing Together program sponsored by Girls, Inc. for parents of young people 9 to 11 years of age is a series of five interactive sessions designed to jump-start crucial conversations between preteen girls and their parents or guardians about sexuality issues. Based on the belief that parents are the major influence and teachers of sexual and family values, the sessions help develop two-way communication skills to give girls an outlet for future questions and dilemmas.

The first session is "adults only" to build parents' comfort level with sexuality issues and to prepare them to listen to and talk with their daughters in a nonjudgmental way during the remaining sessions. Key topics during this first session include the changes during puberty; anatomy and physiology; hygiene; adolescent sexual development and feelings; and values and expectations for teen sexual behavior.

For more information: Girls, Inc., 441 West Michigan Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202; Phone: 317/634-7546, extension 21; Fax: 317/634-3024; Web site:

Mothers' Voices

Parents Educating Parents is a seven-part curriculum by Mother's Voices that helps parents with everything from learning the myths and realities of HIV-transmission to practicing how to answer children's tough questions about sex. During the workshop, parent's values, experiences, and worries come into play.

Mothers' Voices has also published Finding Our Voices: Talking with Our Children about Sexuality and AIDS, a booklet that assists parents as the primary sexuality educators of their children. It teaches them to (1) explore their feelings and values; (2) share the information they have gathered; and (3) practice using correct terminology and communication techniques.

For more information: Mothers Voices, 165 West 46 Street, Suite 701, New York, NY 10036; Phone: 212/730-2777; Fax: 212/730-4378; E-mail:; Web site:

National Education Association (NEA)

The NEA acknowledges that parents and caregivers are the first teachers of their children. They believe that students bring a foundation for learning when they come to school. The NEA feels that the strength of that foundation depends upon the relationship that exists between the young people and their parents or caregivers.

Such strong relationships are based upon honest, trusting, and open communication. Can We Talk? is a series of parent workshops sponsored by the NEA that creates a vehicle for parents, caregivers, and educators to talk to children about issues that are often difficult to address: sexuality, teen pregnancy, drugs and alcohol, and violence.

For more information: National Education Association Health Information Network, 1201 16th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036; Phone: 202/822-7570; Fax: 202/822-7775; E-mail:; Web site:

SIECUS Resources

Families Are Talking is a newsletter with information to help parents and caregivers talk to their children about sexuality and related issues. Single copies are free. Orders of 10 copies or more are 50 cents a copy.

  • The For Parents section of the SIECUS Web site is designed to help parents communicate their values about sexuality to their children and provide accurate, honest, and developmentally appropriate sexuality information.
  • How to Talk to Your Children about AIDS, a SIECUS publication, helps parents talk to their children in preschool through high school about sexuality issues. Copies are $2.
  • Sexuality Education in the Home, a SIECUS annotated bibliography, provides parents and caregivers with resources they can use to talk to their children about sexuality and prepare them for life as sexually healthy adults.
  • Take a Minute to Talk to Your Kids about Sexuality is the title of a series of one-minute radio spots developed by SIECUS to help parents and caregivers become the primary sexuality educators of their children. The complete series is in both print and audio format.

Web Resources

  • -- This Web site from the Campaign for Our Children provides information for both parents and teens on talking about sexuality.
  • -- This Web site from the Children, Youth and Families Education and Research Network provides practical, research-based tools, curricula, and activities for children, youth, parents, families, and communities.
  • -- This Web site from the National Parent Information Center consists of research-based information on parenting and family involvement in education.
  • -- This Web site from Planned Parenthood Federation of America provides resources for parents such as "How to Talk with Your Child about Sexuality," "How to Talk with Your Teen about the Facts of Life," and "Human Sexuality: What Children Should Know."

This article was provided by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. It is a part of the publication SHOP Talk: School Health Opportunities and Progress Bulletin.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More HIV Prevention Guides for Parents