The main problem I can see with telling young children the details of sex is that they will tell it to their peers and the other parents may not find that appropriate. They may want to tell their own children about sex, rather than them hearing possibly incorrect parts of it from their 7 year old friend.
Personally, I believe in letting the innocence last as long as it can. Sex complicates things. And I'm not saying that discussing sex will necessarily lead to having it at a younger age... but is it really necessary for a small child to know the mechanics of sex?
I don't believe in misinforming them, particularly when it comes to the question of where babies come from, but there are plenty of books that discuss pregnancy without giving all the details and that is enough for many children. I'm young and consider myself to be pretty open minded, but I can't see myself telling my child, well, mommy and daddy decided to have a baby, so daddy put his... etc etc. Seems like overkill. Opens up a whole new can of worms.
I think that teaching kids about the details of sex, not that it happens but how it happens and the reasons why and the results thereafter, is appropriate for prepubescent children. They are going through bodily and emotional changes and they are going to find out about sex soon enough. You do want them to find out about sex from a responsible adult before it applies to them. And before it is gossiped about in their peer groups.
But teaching younger children exactly what sex is is not something I support.
I wholeheartedly agree with your essay. It's rather unfortunate that there still seems to be so much shame around sex nowadays. However, keep in mind, that as forward-thinking as America is, we also still cling to the practice of circumcision -- a debate that has actually gained me some enemies when they learned that I chose not to circumcise either of my two boys, ages 3 and 6 months.
It's also really sad that much of the sex education going on in schools these days is abstinence-only. While I don't necessarily advocate young people go right out and have sex before they are emotionally ready, they NEED to be aware of the risks involved. They also have just as much right to know about and be able to acquire methods of protection/contraception -- I'm sure I'd rather catch my son with condoms than with a baby that no one is prepared to provide for.
And leaving the educating up to parents doesn't seem to be working either. There are plenty of parents who, for whatever reasons of embarrassment, cannot or will not discuss sex with their children. If they cannot learn it at school, and they cannot learn it from their parents, then where should they turn?
It DOES take a village to raise a child...
I cannot agree more with the last comment agreeing with your essay. Why hide what is natural and does not instill wrong ideas in children's minds?
I agree with you as well. Let's face it: as parents we are screwed (figuratively) when it comes to this stuff. Either we take a proactive approach and open the lines of honest communication about sex (yes, we risk that info being shared with peers and pissing off their parents)or they find out about it on their own and run the risk of getting misinformed or form notions that sex is taboo, especially through what they can find online. The internet is the ultimate loss of control for parents. Even if we safeguard our kids at home as far as what they are exposed to online, we cannot monitor what they do online at a friend's computer or even in school. Thanks for a nice piece Selina.
As the only member on staff at work who discusses "growing up" with our students (teens with Autism), I've gotten myself in a lot of moments that I wish I hadn't. EX: the kid who asks "where does semen go after it's left in the woman?"
But the new sticky point at work with our kids is trying to get the parents to come in so they can explain to their (mostly sons) how to masturbate so they're not singing in the bathroom waiting for things to be less...obvious, especially around the "cute girls" their age.
As a female teacher I know the boys have issue with me having the 'little talks' with them. I'd rather their parents take care of any discussions, but apparently just because I'm a teacher it means I get to teach them about this too.
We all want our kids to do well in school and learn spelling, grammar, and math. But when it comes to sex education, you'd think the subject was TOP SECRET. We'd probably have a lot fewer teenage pregnancies if the parents provided the education and the values behind the education. Why do fathers try to protect their little princesses from teenage boys, but at the same time go "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" when their teenage son scores with the high school cheerleader? Looks like we have a long way to go.
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