Among the roles every parent must play, one of the most sensitive involves teaching their kids about sexuality. For many parents, the family has a key role to play in educating children on sexuality, but as our society evolves, expectations and boundaries are shifting, often so fast that it is difficult to keep up.
Nowadays, a healthy discussion of sexuality should not be limited to a one-off, awkward conversation about the mechanics of sex or the risks of pregnancy. Instead, it should be based on an open and ongoing dialogue about all aspects of sexuality, ranging from consent to the risks of infection. The sex education you provide for your child will likely be very different from the one you received, because your child is growing up in a very different context. This is your opportunity to learn from them as much as they need to learn from you.
The legal age of consent for sexual activity in Canada is 16 years. However, there are “close-in-age” exceptions if the older partner has no relationship of authority or trust with the younger person:
It is important to create an environment of trust in which you can talk to your child about the true meaning of a “yes” and the importance and power of a “no.” Your teen also needs to understand that the right to withdraw consent is always available and they can change their mind at any time.
Can my child see a doctor without my knowledge?
In Quebec, the age of consent for health care is 14. At this age, even if they have not yet reached the age of majority, children can make their own health-care decisions without consulting their parents or getting their permission. This applies to any care required due to their medical condition, including abortion, but excludes elective care, such as plastic surgery for a cosmetic reason.
Parents or guardians will not be informed if the child is receiving necessary health care, unless they are required to stay in a health or social services facility for more than 12 hours.
Parents of youth over age 14 and under age 18 have the right to access their child’s medical records, unless the child refuses this access and the facility decides that such access would be detrimental to the child.
I fear my child may have an STBBI. What should I do?
First, you should know that young people 14 years of age or older can be tested and treated without permission from their parents.
If you decide to bring up this topic, it is probably best to avoid accusations. Instead, emphasize the idea that regular sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) testing is an important part of safe sex practices, even if they are having protected sex. Sexually active youth are considered at risk. Let them know that their medical records are confidential. Educate them about the risk of STBBIs transmission, even if they have no symptoms.
You may also want to inform them that information given to health care specialists is protected by medical privacy and will never be revealed to you.
For professional support, we’re here.
We provide a wide range of services related to HPV and other STBBIs. Test results for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV are available within 24 hours. A doctor's prescription is required.