“They (teens) don’t know how to protect themselves — using condoms and understanding consent.” — Mia Davis, Tabu
Of all of the conversations parents have with their children, few are as uncomfortable, and as important, as those about sex. As reported cases of STDs continue to rise, and nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned, there is no denying the importance of sex education.
Tabu Founder Mia Davis joined After School’s Michael Luchies to talk about this sensitive subject as part of the After School Social Change with Technology Interview Series. Davis created Tabu in 2016 to promote sex positivity and open conversations around sexuality, especially among young people 17-24. “We provide our audience with trustworthy content and an app that connects users with experts and community resources so they can take control of their sexual health,” shares Davis.
Tabu consists of three main components that app users can explore anonymously: a Q & A forum with expert answers, a discovery feature to find local clinics and providers, and a variation of a frequently asked questions page, which includes basic information on topics including masturbation, sexual identity, birth control, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Asked why she started Tabu, Davis said she saw a gap in how we educate young people on sex and what they needed to know about it. “Less than half of U.S. states require sex ed… and a lot of times it’s abstinence-based education. The teachers are usually general education or health teachers, not necessarily sex educators; if they are uncomfortable talking about sex, this can lead to misinformation.” Davis went on to explain when sex education is based around abstinence, many important topics are never introduced to young people, like safe sex, birth control, and consent.
The result is that there are many young people who are (or might soon become) sexually active and want to be smart and safe about it, but don’t know how. Since they aren’t learning about it in school or from sound sources, they have to just learn as they go or try to find this information elsewhere. “They turn to the Internet to ask questions, and a lot of times, they end up watching porn to fill those gaps, thinking they’ll learn what to do,” says Davis.
Porn isn’t exactly created to educate viewers, and believing what is shown as the right way to approach sexual relationships can lead people in the completely wrong direction. “There is a ton of misinformation out there,” says Davis. “Even at older ages, people believe a lot of myths, which is very dangerous because it perpetuates information that isn’t true.”
Information about sex on Tabu is created by experts with backgrounds in sexual education, are PhDs or Gynecologists, or are part of relevant brands and organizations. On an issue as important as sex education, if young people are going to be sexually active, it’s imperative they have factual information instead of anecdotes from friends or learning from porn.
According to Davis, sex education should expand far outside of the classroom, especially since many schools aren’t teaching it. “Parents have a huge responsibility to help their children learn about these topics,” says Davis. Though the conversations can be uncomfortable, what parents say or don’t say to their children on sex education and sexuality will impact their sex lives. Davis recommends an honest and realistic approach to conversations about sex with young people to create a safe environment: “most parents would much rather know that their child is at least being safe and has the correct information instead of just going off and doing who knows what. Creating a safe space is really important.”
Tabu is creating a new and better version of the Tabu App. To learn more about how Tabu allows young people to browse reliable content on sex and sexuality anonymously, visit GetTabu.com.