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Join TED Speakers John Bohannon and Carl Flink Monday, 12/17 to delve into the super-awkward world of "The Facts of Life"!

When you were a kid, did your parents ever sit you down for THAT conversation? As in, the "facts of life", "the birds & the bees"? Or was it all just too awkward? If you're a parent now, have you talked with your kids?

Join TED speakers John Bohannon and Carl Flink of Black Label Movement to delve into the super-awkward: Monday, December 17th at 4:30 pm Eastern, here on TED Conversations.

Watch their TED-ED video here: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/let-s-talk-about-sex-john-bohannon-and-black-label-movement

Closing Statement from TED

From Carl Flink:

John and I thank everyone for tuning into the conversation about our Talk. I think we all quickly revealed the humor and seriousness of this critical subject and the broad range of experiences around it. We hope that our presentation continues to catalyze conversations around talking about sex and also thinking about how TED talks can incorporate different elements such as live performers beyond the tried and true powerpoint structure.

From John Bohannon:

A big THANKS to everyone who took part in my survey. Here are the results:

1. When you were young, did your parents or another adult talk to you about "the facts of life"?

Yes, I got the low-down on both sex and drugs.
25%
Yes, but only about sex.
31%
Yes, but only about drugs.
0%
No, I had to learn things the hard way.
44%

2. If you have teenage kids (or older), did you (or someone) tell them about "the facts of life" yet?

Yes, they received the wisdom about sex and drugs.
67%
Yes, but so far only about sex.
0%
Yes, but so far only about drugs.
33%
No, that conversation never happened. Awkward!
0%

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    Dec 17 2012: I know its not on the topic of sex, but I want to also say that John Bohannon is a fearless TED Speaker. How many TED Speakers are there who would be willing to do their entire TALK while being moved upside down, laying on people's heads, etc. He's an brave man!
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    Dec 17 2012: Hi John, I'm really inspired by the way you teach through lecture and dance. It is extremely engaging!

    Honesty is like a needle in the hay-stack and people have found ways to hide it, but I'm glad you presented everything as well as the needle pointing to true north. =)

    Thank you Mr Bohannon.
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    Dec 17 2012: As for me... I think the only appropriate way to talk to kids about sex is with the help of professional dancers.
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    Dec 17 2012: Since Gangnam Style is everywhere, my kids are running around the house singing 'Heeeey, sexy lady'
    Such an event could be a 'starting point' but how do you explain sexy to an 4 year old?

    Once the boy next door starts 'daggering' my daughter at the school dance or 'sexting' during mathclass, then it might be time to start explaining things!
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      Dec 17 2012: Seriously! My daughter made a video that stuck my face on the Gangham Style video singer. Talk about some awkward positions to see yourself in!
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    Dec 17 2012: I'm gay, but my parents talked to me about how sex works between a man and a woman. I wonder if any of you parents will talk to your kids about heterosexual AND homosexual relations. I mean, many of these kids already have preferences, but for those that do not, I think it's important to inform them about sex in the most general terms (between two people that are in love or two people that are attracted to each other -- not just between a man and a woman). Does that make sense?
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      Dec 17 2012: My sense is that society has a long way to go before any but the most liberated heterosexual parents will talk to their kids about homosexuality. But I hope that will change fast.
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      Dec 17 2012: Fantastic question, Jordan. This is something that we have already had multiple conversations about in our household. The various debates around so-called "Marriage Amendments" prompted us to have talks with our daughters about what marriage is and how we as parents think about it. It was so interesting to hear from my 10 year-old before we ever said anything to them about this, "Dad, I don't understand why I can't marry anyone that I love and want to be with." Wow, from the mouths of babes.
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      Dec 17 2012: It makes so much sense. I think a lot of parents would use the excuse that it tends to come up because kids have asked where babies come from, but that just makes for a good starting point. You just have to answer the question you've been asked, but the question that small children might not yet know enough to ask.
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      Aja B.

      • +1
      Dec 17 2012: I have no doubt this will be a part of our conversations around sex, since it's already a normal part of our world. One of our daughter's friends has two moms, we walk past affectionate gay couples when we're out and about, etc. It's standard now to hear other toddler parents hedging on the sex of their kid's future spouse. :)
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    Aja B.

    • +2
    Dec 17 2012: On the more casual end of the spectrum, whenever my husband left the house when he was a teenager (after getting his driver's license), his parents would send him off with, "Have fun! Remember to wear your headlights and turn on your rubbers!"
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    Dec 17 2012: well, no. nobody ever told me that "the facts of life" would be sex and drugs. i was under the impression that rock and roll is also involved. but i have always suspected that actually a lot more is going on in life.
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    Dec 17 2012: Mr. Oroyan:

    Any other contributions or tales of lusty furniture?
  • Dec 17 2012: I remember, my father took me to a seperate room and asked me some questions before he actually explained me everything literally. I remember few of them.
    The first question was that did you ever feel something when you woke up in the morning? It was followed by another one. He asked me to try and remember if I saw any beautiful classmates of mine in my dreams or have seen some exiting movie before sleeping?
    The conversation was pretty much direct. I really appreciated that. I am proud that it happened and I came to know everything from my father, instead of friends telling different stories.
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      Dec 17 2012: Thanks for sharing this Shobhit.
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      Dec 17 2012: I wonder how rare your experience is, Shobhit. Everyone, please take part in my ultra-fast 2-question survey:

      http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2ZTNRW3
      • Dec 17 2012: I think, being a doctor, it was easier for him and he was comfortable talking to me about it. I agree that normally its rare.
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      Dec 17 2012: One thought that occurred to me though as I read you experience, Shobhit, is why so often parents make this conversation something that needs to be scheduled or taken into a different room. I know that when my parents did something like this to me when I was growing up I tended to spend so much time wondering when I was going to be grounded or told something bad that I may not have been in a head space to take in the information.
      • Dec 17 2012: I agree with you. There can be different reasons. My sister is yonger to me and he might not have wanted to share all those thoughts with her, at that time. Still, these conversations need to be taken in more casual way. Its an important part of everyone's life.
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    Dec 17 2012: I also think that we as a society seriously need to stop calling it "the talk," as if it only has to happen once.
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      Dec 17 2012: Agreed. I was serious about Aja's "nudge" strategy.
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      Dec 17 2012: Agreed! One of my favorite people in the world, Cliff Simon (http://www.cliffcakes.com/cake/) says that the more you talk about something like it's normal, the more normal it becomes. He had a lover for years before he realized the reason people didn't take it seriously or accept it as normal is because he never talked about it like it was normal.

      Maybe if we just casually slip sex into daily conversations -- not perversely or immaturely (though there are times for that, I would argue) -- we can start a culture around "the talk" that is less 1950's and more Facebook-wall-esque.
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      Dec 17 2012: Couldn't agree more. We need to stop highlighting something that is everywhere and in all of us as if it is somehow unusual requiring of "special treatment." Don't get me wrong this is serious stuff and we need to help ourselves and our children understand it, but I certainly know I want my children to understand it as a beautiful and normal part of their lives.
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        Dec 17 2012: You know, I would argue that I am going to use calculus much less often in my life than I am going to use sex. However, I was required to take years of it in school. I had tutors and went to labs. So much energy was expended to help me understand. Why can't we treat sex that way. It's a daily exercise in some cases. But, we treat it like a secret! Haha! I wish this was the other way around and we treated calculus this way. :)
  • Dec 17 2012: I know I had the talk with my mom when I was about 11 but it was wrapped into the "your body is going to be going through some changes soon/puberty" talk which was only prompted because one of the girls in my Girl Scout troop had just gotten her period. My mom was pretty matter of fact about the whole thing, if I remember clearly. As far as the drug talk...I don't think it happened. I was told that they were bad for my health (I grew up in a very health-oriented household) and since no one in my family smoked it never was an issue for me. We did have the DARE program in school, too.
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      Dec 17 2012: P.S. everyone, Lauren is the dancer who gets thrown way up in the air in our TED talk. She's got serious thrill issues.
    • Dec 17 2012: Pretty much the same with my mum Lauren. Another girl in our ballet group got her period ... all the mums panicked I think and therefore 'the talk' surfaced. It would be interesting to know how many other 'talks' where instigated because some poor girl was the first to get her period in a group!
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        Dec 17 2012: Why do all the moms panic?? I explained sex to my little sister when she was five and I was 11. She told everyone in her class, and my stepmother received a zillion angry phone calls. Everything I told her was accurate! What on Earth were they so angry about?
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          Dec 17 2012: You just didn't do it properly, Morton. You should have used a troupe of professional dancers.
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    Dec 17 2012: My brother and I were SUPER horny kids. I was in first grade when I discovered if I humped a pole for long enough(yes even on the playground) I got a very pleasurable sensation. I think I was 7 and my brother 5 when we saw our first porn video. My half sister was "watching" us(actually in the bedroom with her boyfriend) while my brother and I watched tv. We came acros a porn channel and went crazy. I remember my brother humping the back of the sofa and me wriggling on the cushions. Also, my grandma subscribed to Playboy(for the articles), so we loved staying over night at her place. As far as anyone saying anything about sex, parents or other(I went to a Catholic school) I do remember my step dad telling me that Playboy was better than Hustler. I also have a vague memory of a blond girl in first grade showing a group of guys her vagina under a picnic table.

    Ultimately, it was the movies and tv shows I watched that educated me. However, I did pick up some intense Catholic guilt that took years to dissolve.
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      Dec 17 2012: Blammo! Eddie is the new reigning champion of the MOST REVEALING experience.
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      Dec 17 2012: I think Eddie's story is exactly why parents must be engaged in this process. Kids are and will find access to this information and imagery, especially in today's world. Parents must be proactive so they can help their children develop structures for how to respond and think about this information and form decisions for how they will act. This is not to control them, but to help them understand what is and should be a beautiful natural part of who we are.
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    Dec 17 2012: Lol, I just figured out that I can reply directly to comments. Internet dork here . . .
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    Dec 17 2012: New reigning champion of the MOST AWKWARD experience: Kate Torgovnick. Congratulations, Kate!
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    Dec 17 2012: I grew up in a very conservative Christian home. My parents were, however, very scientific about "the facts of life." They used the standardized terms for male and female reproductive organs. They also suggested very strongly that I should abstain from drug use. They told me the negative consequences and offered alternatives (social activities, sports, piano lessons, church, volunteer opportunities). All of this, of course, was from a Christian perspective. They wanted me to live a life that was pleasing to God. However, I think that though their reasons came from a religious place, the outcome was very similar to friends that had loving non-religious parents. I wonder what other people experienced. If you had the talk, did your parents encourage you to experiment? Did they give you the tools to do it safely? Were you forbidden to drink or do drugs or have sex before marriage? What motivated your parents' decision to talk to you?
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      Dec 17 2012: OK, Jordon. You are current reigning champion of the MOST REASONABLE Facts of Life experience.
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    Dec 17 2012: ;-) Ahoy from Brussels!!!!
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    Aja B.

    • +1
    Dec 17 2012: Also, just want to add that your performance was AMAZING! I'd love to see more topics illustrated with dance, what a brilliant idea.
  • Dec 17 2012: My parents didn’t really give me a talk. Instead, they gave me a book. My 12 year old self wasn’t interested in reading about my body, but instead I would giggle with my friends as we flipped through the pictures. I think the book was a good way to lead into it though. And if my parents would have talked with me about the book after I had it for a while, it would have been a helpful tool. I'm sure I would have run away from them as well, but kids still hear you when their ears are plugged.
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    Dec 17 2012: As a kid I'm sure we had specific conversations about it, but my truly memorable sex-ed moment was, in fact, an overnight campout at the local abortion clinic with the local girls from my very progressive 70s neighborhood. In one room, there was an endless videotape loop of an internal exam, and plenty of helpful 70s ladies who were eager to explain it to me.
    GAHHHHH.
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    Dec 17 2012: I'm guessing my 4yr old son and daughter sooner will be ready for this talk than i'll be aware off
    especially since things seem to be speeding up rapidly
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      Dec 17 2012: Benno, that's a fascinating point -- why do we seem to be having this conversation earlier and earlier?
    • Dec 17 2012: It takes a village to raise a child. If it's everybody's "embarrassment", then it belongs to society. Why there is so few books written to the little readers. Hope there's a poetic way to introduce the Apple to the life of each little bean sprout. The conversation can be very creative!
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    Dec 17 2012: Morton:

    I'm actually wrestling with just this question because I have three daughters age 10 and twin five year olds. One of the goals of this presentation was to suggest that it is critical to respond to the individual make-up of each child especially for parents. Each of my daughters even the twins are extremely different and I will need to talk with them in very different ways.
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    Dec 17 2012: Carl and I want to hear your "Facts of Life" stories. The more awkward the better!
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    Dec 17 2012: Good bye, world!
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    Dec 17 2012: 10, 9, 8 , 7 . . .
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    Aja B.

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    Dec 17 2012: The clock is about to run out! John and Carl, thank you so much for joining us today!
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    Dec 17 2012: Something that occurs to me as we have this conversation is that there are many facets to this conversation to consider. There is learning about how we reproduce, there is learning about how our particular reproduction can be pleasurable and there is talking about the enormous spectrum of sexuality that is happening with no goal of reproduction. These are all things to consider talking about with our children and have differing layers of discomfort for us as parents and educators.
    • Dec 17 2012: I think that's one more reason why it shouldn't be one "talk" but rather be an open topic to talk about as more questions come up.
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      Dec 17 2012: I also think it's valuable to have conversations like this one, among adults, more often than we do. For an Intro to Sexuality Studies class, my final assignment was to write my sexual history, starting with learning about sex as a child. I couldn't believe how many parts of the story I hadn't thought about in years, and how formative they'd been. There's definite value in that reflection.
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      Aja B.

      • 0
      Dec 17 2012: Agreed! I'll definitely be thinking back to this conversation as we get closer to having... not "The Talk", but an ongoing dialogue about sex. :)
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    Dec 17 2012: Only 7 minutes left on the clock...

    Go on. Share your awkward experiences with us! I'm still handing out merit badges.
  • Dec 17 2012: My mum didn't tell me about sex ..... just told me when I was about 11 that as a female I had the reproductive organs to produce babies and that would mean I might start bleeding soon. I was horrified! Actually, I think my poor mum didn't really explain it because she didn't really know. I actually educated HER when I was about 18 and studying my nursing degree, she didn't even understand her own basis anatomy.
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      Dec 17 2012: Now that's an idea I haven't heard yet, but it strikes me as reasonable. Perhaps kids are become *more* knowledgeable than their parents. Perhaps the Facts of Life talk will flip. Kids need to educate their parents?
      • Dec 17 2012: Hey ,,,,, there are a whole lot of people out there that just aren't health literate, especially when it comes to the human body, sex and how drugs work(especially where addiction is concerned). You can't teach what you don't know!
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    Dec 17 2012: To Carl

    I don't have a recollection of having 'the talk' with either one of my parents
    It came down to friends, classmates, and experimentation which helped me understand
    Now i'm a parent myself and i'm not afraid of having this talk with my kids
    To me it's more a question of when is the right time or 'how to start the conversation'

    Probably their interest will come up eventually and as a parent i think it will be best to be aware of this fact and be honest and open about it
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      Dec 17 2012: Agreed. The thing that my life partner and I have learned as we've been riding this particular wave is that you need to gauge the communication to where the children is in their life development. So how we've answered questions from our 5 year olds about where they came from is much different from answers to similar questions from our ten year old.
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    Dec 17 2012: But on that note, is there an age where it's okay to tell your children that they're too young for sex? Or is the key to explain what's problematic about it, rather than making it a question of virtue or social stigma?
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      Dec 17 2012: My mom told me when I started puberty that I could have sex as soon as I was able to afford the consequences. I guess this wouldn't be good advice for princes and princesses or child stars (like Justin Beiber). But, I think what she was getting at was that sex comes with a price. There are emotional, physical, financial, and environmental concerns. You might as well consider them before you plunge into the act instead of being forced to consider them after the deed is done. My mom is so smart! :)
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    Dec 17 2012: To Morton:

    One of the things that's been an interesting collaboration is the differences in how my wife and I learned about sex. Sadly, since my Sex Talk didn't happen until 18 3 years after I started having sex my initial education was relegated to Penthouse Letters (always a healthy source of information). My wife had an aunt who was central in her upbringing who was extremely matter of fact and never guilt-tripped her about sex. She deals with the conversations with our daughters so much better then I because she was never taught that it was something to hide or the province of porn. I feel very lucky to have her in our lives.
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    Dec 17 2012: Everyone take my super-quick "Facts of Life" survey:

    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2ZTNRW3

    I'll share the results at the end of this.
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    Dec 17 2012: Aja, I like that "nudge" method. Perhaps we should just pepper a kid's environment with subtle references and resources. Like... sticky notes with wise and super-awkward sex-related wisdom... Fridge magnets... Constantly humming the tunes to pop songs that are related to sex...
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    Dec 17 2012: To Benno:

    It has been incredible to have three daughters and realize how early sexuality begins to come into their lives. I don't mean sex in any way, but that they become aware of these sensations in their bodies far earlier than anyone prepared me for as a parent. It was sincerely a scary thing for me to realize that this is something I wouldn't be able to wait to address until they were older than 10. I think when they are young it really is answering a lot of questions about how the body actually works.
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    Dec 17 2012: I have an awkward "Fact of Life" story for you!

    When I was in 5th grade (this was 1992, I believe), I had the awkward experience of being in a sex ed class composed of mostly girls, but taught by a male teacher. On the day our syllabus read "menstruation," he couldn't bring himself to talk. So instead, he showed a film strip! A really, really old film strip -- from the 1970s if not earlier.

    In the film strip, a women demonstrated how to use a "menstrual pad belt," a horrible looking metal device that one fitted a sanitary napkin onto and clamped around her hips. Every girl in my class had a look of utter horror on her face as she watched the demonstration.

    As an early developer, who had already started getting me period, I had to speak up. I swallowed every once of pride and raised my hand, and let the class that this was horribly outdated and that really, you just stick a pad onto your panties—no metal belt needed. Every female face in the room looked relieved.

    I wonder what other misinformation the girls in my class received being taught by someone not of our gender who seemed terrified by the idea of talking about any of this stuff in the first place.
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    Dec 17 2012: Thank you, Carl, I definitely agree. I also think that a crucial element has to be a non-judgmental tone. My mother was perfectly willing to talk about sex, but that also meant to lecture me on how I was too young for it. I never lacked for reliable scientific facts, but the facts came along with a heavy dose of "How could you do this to your poor mother?" guilt-tripping, which I know she saw as equally her responsibility to me. Ultimately, though, I'm not sure that's ever going to stop any teenagers from doing anything, it's just going to give them more complicated feelings about it.
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    Dec 17 2012: Wuzzup, Edward! Care to share your awkwardness with the world?
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    Dec 17 2012: And I guess it's public knowledge now but... I never had any such talk. I discovered sex and drugs on my own (and young).
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    Dec 17 2012: I never had The Sex Talk untilI was 18 with my Dad. The sad part is I had already been having sex for the previous 3 years. Talk about an awkward moment. "Um, Dad, thanks for bringing this up but I've really been exploring this world on my own for a while." We actually had a good laugh together!
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    Dec 17 2012: Everyone, take me ultra-short survey:

    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2ZTNRW3

    I want to see what sort of experiences you've had.
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    Dec 17 2012: Are you guys certified to be talking about this subject? What are your credentials? You should post a link where I can find out if you are the real deal or not.
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    Dec 17 2012: For most of my guy friends in high school, sex-ed meant shoddily sketched diagrams on napkins in the back of the bus and TERRIBLE metaphors involving straws and skittles.

    And a lot of porn.
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    Dec 17 2012: OK, Emily is the current champion of the contest for MOST AWKWARD facts of life experience.
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    Dec 17 2012: Aja:

    Viagra, porn, social media oh my! It has become a much more complicated world. I've talked with people who talk about the changes in access to drugs and information as giving everyone all the information but none of the wisdom or experience to know what to actually do when faced with actually having sex. We're still faced with the problem of how to help children deal with that moment. Clearly, there is no one answer.

    C
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    Dec 17 2012: Porn! Good point, Aja. So much porn... I guess we don't need to have the talk anymore. We can let the internets handle it now, right? (Actually... seriously. Can parents get to kids faster than HTML?)
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    Dec 17 2012: Continuing to Morton:

    When John was writing the script for this talk he kept focused on how he thinks his 13 year-old self would have responded well to The Sex Talk. He realized that he needed clear information about the science and he was never getting that.
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    Aja B.

    • 0
    Dec 17 2012: Hi John and Carl! I just filled out the survey, looking forward to seeing the responses. :) I've got a while yet before I need to be on the parent end of "The Talk", but I do worry about it... not so much because of the awkwardness, but because so much seems to have changed since I was young. How are we supposed to prepare kids in the era of social media, viagra emails, and limitless access to porn? My third-grade memories of being shocked by boys writing "BOOBS" upside-down on their calculators seems.... a bit outdated. :)
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    Dec 17 2012: Carl, you're the parent... ; )
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    Dec 17 2012: Howdy, Morton.
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    Dec 17 2012: Hi John and Carl! I absolutely loved your performance. I've been thinking about what you said about the need for parents to be open about their own experiences. I was fortunate enough to grow up with very open parents, but as a child I'd run away with my fingers in my ears, horrified, when they came anywhere near the subject of their own sexual experiences. How can adults talk about sex in a way that kids will actually want to listen?
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    Dec 17 2012: Ahhh, blissful silence. : )
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    Dec 17 2012: And I'm also curious about who has really had that conversation when they were a kid. I've set up a survey here:

    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2ZTNRW3
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    Dec 17 2012: Hello folks, we're looking forward to talking with you about "Let's Talk About Sex."
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    Dec 17 2012: Hello, world.