The importance of youth clinics- even if you’re not a youth
Since I became a parent fifteen years ago, I’ve discovered there are huge disagreements on how to get this job done right. It can be incredibly easy to talk about children when your approach is similar to someone else’s and extremely awkward, even hostile, when it’s not.
All told there is no one right way to raise and support kids, but one thing that I stand firm on is sexual health info. I cannot agree with parents who don’t answer their kids’ questions because the parents think “They’re too young.” I think if a kid is asking, they deserve an answer. The complexity of the answer depends on the age of the kid and if parents need help figuring out how to explain things to different ages, there’s help out there. Vancouver’s Sexplainer Marnie Goldenberg is just one great source.
It is hard for some adults to acknowledge their kids are sexual beings but for the sake of kids, do it. Providing a kid with factual sexual health info and resources won’t make them run out and have a sexual relationship, but it can help them with the incredible roller coaster of emotions and sensations that are normal and to be expected as they grow up. If a kid doesn’t know what is normal and to be expected, it can really alarm them.
On that theme, this is for you, because you’re not that parent/ auntie/ adult. You may be struggling (or not) as your young beloved wobbles towards maturity, but you want to support the process. One service kids may use at some point is a youth clinic. This is a run-down of what services youth clinics provide, so you know. Your beloved may not want you to know they need the services, but you can rest assured they will get what they need.
As an example, youth clinics in the Vancouver Coastal Health region provide sexual health and general health services-
Sexual health: Testing for sexually transmitted infections (STI), free condoms and lube, emergency birth control, pap tests, free (or low-cost) birth control options, pregnancy testing and options counselling. Other health services include general counselling, mental health and addictions counselling.
Teens may not be comfortable talking to their family doctor about sexual health, and not just because of subject matter but because of logistics- making an appointment without their family finding out, or getting to the appointment. Youth clinics generally have hours that suit school schedules and will take kids without knowing their health care card.
Youth clinics are a good way for kids to feel empowered in their health and sexual health choices. If a kid goes to one, good for them to look out for their own health. These clinics are a great option for kids who might not be getting all they need at home sex ed wise, and also for kids who do know, but want their choices to stay their own.