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July 26, 2007

Comments

Heather

As the mother of a 6 year old son and a 4 year old daughter -- It could very well come up at school. If a student's mom is pregnant - or the Teacher is. At this age they are curious. And my 4 year old already has asked (and knows) how the babies come out of mommy.

Now, my son once asked how the babies got in there - but I caved and dodged by saying that when mommy and daddy want a baby they talk to God and God helps them make the baby with a little bit of mommy and a little bit of daddy and the baby grows inside mommy.

Another common question at this age - (and this happened to me as a preschool teacher)-when we say "The baby is growing in the mommy's belly" the logical question for a 3-5 year old is - "Why did yu eat the baby??" And then the explanation has to come that mommies have a special belly for babies to grow in.

SO - long comment - BUT - Yes there IS age appropriate sex education and YES the questions do start that young.

That being said - I homeschool so that I wil be the one to decide what is age appropriate for MY children.

L.B.

The fact that storks do not bring babies should be fairly obvious to any kid who has a younger sibling, or whose friends do.

Unless the sibling was adopted from abroad, which is like being delivered by a very, very large metal stork.

Lydia Smith

I don't know exactly what Barack Obama's beliefs are on sex-ed in the public school setting, but when asked in the Democratic debate by a Planned Parenthood representative what he taught his own children about sex he said [when speaking about his two young daughters] " And I want them to know if somebody is doing something wrong to them,encroaching on their privacy, that they should come talk to me or my wife,... and I think it's important that every child does, to make sure that they're not subject to sexual predators." If Obama does get put into the Oval Office, I hope that his plans for sex-ed would match those that he has for his own children, and go no farther.

Ken

So what does age-appropriate sex ed mean for kindergartners?

For openers, check out the South Park episode "Proper Condom Use", where in the heat of a moral panic the parents force the schools to provide "comprehensive sex education" -- to the point they run out of teachers.

By the time they get down to kindergarten, the only teacher available for the "age-appopriate sex ed" is the certifiably-psychotic, sexually-messed-up Mr Garrison.

(Not that the other teachers have much more of a clue.)

dangermom

Does any kid even *get* the stork story any more? Really, if you start with "there's no stork," wouldn't that just confuse the heck out of most little kids?

Golly, isn't this a thorny topic? While I would certainly prefer to keep most sex ed at home and definitely out of kindergarten, there's also the fact that many kids are being exposed to sex early on and having to deal with it. How do we keep kids' innocence and protect them in this environment? An awful lot of young kids are simply exposed to sex-saturated media right at home, and then they pass it on to schoolmates. I would not want sex ed in kindergarten, though. No way. And while we do need some sort of education in our schools, I think it should be divided by gender and done very differently than it is now! (I'm so grateful our 4th grade class on menstruation was girls-only...)

I have solved this problem for myself by homeschooling, which obviously isn't going to work for most people. My daughter, now 7, is the curious kind, and asks questions. What I've done so far over the past couple of years is to explain the names and some functions of all her parts--she is fascinated by childbirth and biology in general. She knows a little about menstruation, eggs and so on, and how a baby grows, but I haven't explained how the baby gets in there! Probably I'll get to that next year. We're just doing it a little bit at a time, as it comes up, just me and her--and it's all biology so far, not sex. I prefer it like this, but it wouldn't be appropriate for all kids in a classroom setting!

Annika

I do think that there are appropriate ways of providing sex ed to very young children, but the key point is that this information should be provided by PARENTS, not an institution. Parents will best be able to judge on a child by child basis how much information to give, and will also be able to impart their own moral or spiritual beliefs. Institutions, on the other hand, will provide a mix of too much and too little information simultaneously.

I was homeschooled, and never had any illusions about storks or radishes. When my mom was pregnant with my younger sister (I was about a year old), we had already talked about (in 1 year old appropriate terms) the fact that only married mommies and daddies had babies, and that sort of thing. I think this worked well for me and my siblings, but I doubt an institution could have given me the moral and spiritual perspectives that my parents did.

Mandi

With test scores being what they are in alot of scores shouldn't they be teaching...ya know...the ABC's and 123's??? I don't think the schools need to say a thing to kindergartners about sex ed. Are they really going to be harmed if they don't know exactly where a baby comes from?? Look at all the books in the library in the children's section that deals with this in an entirely age-appropriate way without making it so complicated. I personally like Christopher West's approach (he translated Theology of the Body). He does it in a way where the utmost respect is held for our bodies and how God designed them. Somehow I don't think the schools will get that. Also, interesting that Barack made that statement with Planned Parenthood in the building considering they make quite a bit of money doing abortions to cover up other people's daughters being abused.

Patty

I have taught public school kindergarten in the same Southern California school for 12 years,and the last 3 have been a full day program. I can attest for at least my school district, that "sex ed" is not at all a part of our curriculum! In fact, "Health" has been practically abandoned by this K-6 district as a subject, except in sixth grade, where for a two week period of 30 minutes daily it is strictly focused on hygiene (you might find you need to start using deordorant, showering more often, etc.) and body changes. These are segregated by sex, and concerns specific to each sex addressed-menstruation for the girls(taught by a female teacher) and "wet dreams" and erections for the boys(taught by a male teacher), but the teachers are prohibited by district policy from answering questions specifically involving sexual intercourse and reproduction-they are directed to ask their parents, and if their parents are unwilling to provide answers, to research at their public library.I actually think the girls need their instruction a little earlier, around 4th or 5th grade, but this is a conservative district, skittish about potential litigation! Our schools are focused on Reading, Writing, Math, Social Studies and Science, with a small dash of Music and Pys. Ed. We have absolutely no time left for anything else! I realize my district might differ considerably from others, but I think there's a lot more like mine than not. The media tends to sensationalize those districts that step outside the norm.In the 70's,80's, and into the 90's,I think schools thought they needed to educate their student populations to protect them, while now schools do not educate on these subjects to protect themselves!

I just watched that clip and he made a lot of sense, plus, it seems that an opponent was the one who mentioned kindergarten. Also, I have no idea why it would be bad to tell a child who is learning about hygiene that certain parts of his or her body are special and off limits to others.

Mrs. Pilgrim

I think it was well stated above, when Annika observed that parents should be handling this education, not the schools. One has to question the assumption that the vast majority of parents don't mention sex to their children at all.

Those who say that "we have to offer it because SOME KIDS don't get the info from their parents" may as well advocate dedicating thirty minutes a day to "locomotion education"--for those kids whose parents didn't teach them to walk, you know.

Between that and the personal experience of having been screwed up for many a year because of sex ed at the age of 7 (had a hard time dealing with boys because I knew too much), I'm not a big fan of early "education" in that subject.

But at the same time, I'm not a fan of fairy tales. No storks, no cabbages, no Santa Claus. It's always a bad idea to start out lying to your kids.

Edith

You know, it never occured to me to ask anyone where babies come from. Recently, I talked to a close friend of mine who has known me since I was nine, and I admitted to her -- over wine, admittedly -- that I didn't know the "mechanics" of sex until I was 11. She laughed and said, "I hadn't figured it out until I was 13!" What's funny about this is that we're both from fairly liberal, albeit religious, families, and we first had "sex ed" in school in fifth grade. Although looking back, it wasn't sex ed so much as "puberty education" -- teaching us about what was happening to our bodies and so forth, but without any education about actual intercourse or other sexual practices. I think that kind of education is appropriate for fifth graders, because puberty can be traumatic and it's always a good idea to reassure kids that they're "normal." Of course, the sexes should be split! I would've died if I had had to endure that with boys.

Marauder

Coming into the conversation a bit late here...

I think my mom had a really good approach to sex ed. She never did anything like sit me down and tell me all this information I may or may not have understood, she just honestly answered any questions I asked. So if I asked how babies were made, she told me that the sperm from the daddy and the egg from the mama come together to make a baby that grows inside the mama. At some point I must have asked how the sperm got to the egg, because I remember knowing that at least by the time I was five or so.

Anyway, she didn't burden me with information I didn't care about or couldn't understand, and she never gave me any reason to feel like I was asking "bad" questions, so if I had any more I just asked her.

Amber

I'm a single woman in my late twenties and a first time visitor to this site, and have found many of the topics raised herein very interesting. I'm not always in agreement with some of what the site seems to advocate, but your blogs and discussions are certainly timely, valid and interesting.

As someone who has worked with at risk youth of all ages, and often been in the position of teaching teenagers "sex ed" as well as speaking to groups of very young children about their bodies in the context of helping them to recognize, prevent and report abuse, there are a few things I would like to add to this discussion.

I too am ambivalent to a degree about when true sex education should begin, what that type of education should entail (abstinence only, simple biology or pregnancy/STD prevention), and who should provide it. I've noticed that many of you have sought to take control of this situation by home-schooling your children entirely or at least only on this topic, and I think you're fortunate to have that opportunity. (I hope that when the time comes I have the option to educate my children at home). But on this topic I think it's important to question whether all parents are QUALIFIED to provide sex education to their children, particularly their teenagers. Many parents, for instance, may not be aware that condoms do not prevent all STDs, that some STDs can be cancer risk factors, and so on. Just as a parent who homeschools his or her child may wonder if their own education is sufficient to teach Johnny or Jane Algebra or Chemistry, I hope these parents will also question whether their knowledge of sexual biology, hygeine and pregnancy/STD prevention are adequate to give their children all the information they need to be healthy.

Even parents favoring abstinence only education at home should realize that it's particularly important that teenagers know what aspects of their biology are normal if they are to both take proper care of their bodies and receive proper medical care from their doctors during the course of their lives. Young women are particularly at risk here. If, for instance, girls don't know what types of daily discharge are normal and healthy, and which are unhealthy, the lack of this information alone could cause a young woman to ignore an infection or other condition that would negatively affect her fertility later in life. And unfortunately, when it comes to sex education, what a person doesn't know CAN kill them.

So whether your child is homeschooled or attends a public or private school, please take an interest in what your son or daughter is learning. If you feel that your own knowledge base on the subject may be rusty or a little lacking, ask your family doctor or school nurse where you can find accurate and thorough information to impart to your child - as well as tips on HOW to talk to your child about the topic. And don't take all of your information from a single source; just because something is printed in a book or posted online does not make it true or complete. Finally, recognize that you yourself are not your child's only source of information. Peers, books, movies, television and advertisers will all be competing with you to shape your child's views of their bodies and their sexuality. If you want to have the last word on those subjects with your son or daughter, you'll have to be willing to talk to them and have enough accurate information to de-bunk what Joey across the street says.

Regardless of the way parents choose to educate their children on this topic, I hope that we can all agree that in the contest between a child's "modesty" and health, health is most important.

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