(*-The fact that I had to add quotations around taboo in the headline makes what I am writing that much more important.)

A week ago, my son walked across the stage as an honor graduate of South Florence High School. I was so excited, and I am very proud of him!

I pray the foundation we laid for him will carry him as he transitions into a different world. As parents, we prayed for him and taught him spiritually and morally how he ought to behave in this world.

Many parents will agree that teaching our children how to behave is one of the things people notice when they leave home and begin their new lives. My son is quiet and reserved, but he’s a thinker. He loves people and loves encouraging others. Those are good qualities to have, and I am happy he is outwardly focused.

But what many of us don’t teach our children is how to “behave” sexually.

Some of you might have “clutched your pearls” reading that statement, but it is one of the realest things you will read from me.

Though the rates are low in South Carolina, teen pregnancy still exists. AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are still being carried. Sexual violence is occurring every 10 seconds in our country alone. A child is sold into sex trafficking every hour.

But for some reason, we do not give this information to our children as they leave the four walls of their homes to enter a world that is not so safe. Many young ladies and young men go to college and almost immediately become active socially. They meet people to whom they become attracted, and the sexual attraction for many becomes instantaneous. Unfortunately, many are not always informed about sexual assault and how to prevent it while they are young. Parents are afraid to have these discussions, but when their daughter are violated or their sons are accused, they are not aware of next steps.

I have been talking to my daughters and my son about sex, sexual trauma, reproductive health, contraceptives since they were 8 years old. As they got older, the conversations changed, because trends changed. But what never changed is the fact that the information I shared was for their safety and protection. It was not shared with the belief it would increase sexual activity or challenge their sexual orientation. Those concerns are secondary for me compared to them being alive and well.

Many of you who are reading this have children who may have graduated this year and will be going to college or the military. Please do not let them leave without having the conversations about consent and prevention. My son leaves in August to attend college, and his father and I WILL have the consent talk AGAIN with him and share ways to keep himself safe.

A colleague of mine shared that he was scared to talk with his daughter about sex, and then she became a teen mom. Now he is openly talking about sex with his other children.

Parents and guardians, you have to release your fears and talk to your children about sex. If you don’t, they will learn it from peers who may be uneducated like they are. I always told my children, “Your friends don’t know any more than you do.”

My husband and I were always the sex educators to our children. Fear is often the contributor to sickness, harm and death. Talk about it!

Jennifer Guiles Robinson is a wife and mother who enjoys writing and traveling.