Parents are encouraged to “talk about it” with their children during October.

“It” is the often forbidden topic of sex.

“Let's Talk About Š” month is a national public education campaign celebrated in October and coordinated by Advocates for Youth. It emphasizes the importance of communication between adults and children in helping young people develop responsible attitudes and behaviors about sexuality.

It is being promoted locally by the Ottawa County Health Department's WISE UP program.

Traci DeLano, with the WISE UP program of the Ottawa County Health Department, suggested that parents or other primary care givers take the opportunity to discuss sex with their children.

“It's never too early and never to late to begin those discussions, but ideally it's better to start early,” DeLano said. “Children whose parents wait until they are 14 or 15 years old have probably gotten their information from other sources.”

Those sources include friends, classes, television and movies.

“Parents who try to initiate the talk with teenagers are often told, ‘I already know that,'” DeLano said. “Don't let that stop the conversation. Instead, tell the teenager, ‘But, you haven't heard it from me.'

“Children who don't have these conversations with their parents often have attitudes that don't reflect family' values.

“Parents can't stop these conversations with the facts. Children can get the facts from a lot of places. They can only get their family values from their parents.”

According to survey with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 53 percent of children from 12 to 19-years-old reported that their parents and religious beliefs influenced their decisions about sex more than their friends (eight percent), the media (two percent) and sex education (three percent).

Actually, the early in a child's life these conversations are started the easier it is to have these conversations as the children become teenagers, according to DeLano.

Parents who are uncomfortable about starting the conversation, and most people are according to DeLano, are encouraged to begin the conversation around an entertainment program.

“The media constantly show sexual situations,” DeLano said. “Parents can naturally begin a discussion about something they just saw on television with the children.”