I'm a liberal minded gal but I've got to admit I'm not comfortable with the direction sex-education is taking in our school systems. I'm 100% behind gay marraige, have signed all the protests against Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill, have written a few letters, believe in the freedom of choice, etc, etc. Yes I'm a Christian, but I'm also a human being - and I'm only Anglican for crying out loud, we're probably as close to agnosticism as you can get while still being members of a church.
It did not take a moralistic tone, as many abstinence programs do. Most notably, the sessions encouraged children to delay sex until they are ready, not necessarily until married; did not portray sex outside marriage as never appropriate; and did not disparage condoms.The problem is, abstinence-only has gotten such a bad rap by the right-wing Christian Bush adminsitration's application of it that no one wants to admit it could just work. In the study cited, among the 12-14 year olds followed, in the abstinence group almost 10% fewer children had engaged in intercourse than in the safe-sex group. And guess what? There was no difference in condom usage. Yes, you can teach abstinence without making children ignorant of condoms!
Source: The Washington Post: "Abstinence Only Programs Might Work, Study Says" Rob Stein, Feb 02, 2010
My kids are 5, 3 and 1. The one-year-old doesn't say much on any topic and the three year old follows her older brother's lead. So when our five year old asked how his baby brother got in my "belly," we explained to him. He knows that boys have penises and girls have vulvas or vaginas. So we told him that when a man puts his penis in a woman's vagina these little sperm come out (we said they looked like really small fish) and that inside the woman's uterus - or where the baby grows - is a little tiny egg. And sometimes the little fish meet the little egg and a baby starts to grow. I can only imagine the mental images this produced for the poor children, fishes and eggs inside of them! But my son's first question was "why would he put his penis there?" So I told the truth. "Because it feels good." And then I added that though it felt good, it could make a baby and so we expected that he wouldn't do something like that until he was an adult and could care for a baby.
And that's the extent of what I think he needs to know about sex right now. And the extent of what he wants to know. He knows that touching his penis feels good (he's such a little wanker) but we've explained to him that it's not appropriate to do in public or in front of other people - I told him it was like peeing or pooing in front of someone else: very rude. He also knows that sometimes men like men instead of women and women like women instead of men. We haven't gone into specifics about how men and men act together and how women and women act together because, you see, my son never asked about SEX. All he wanted to know was how babies were made.
I don't think I'm a prude; I think I'm pragmatic and instead of looking at politics I'm looking at children's development. Five and Six year olds are not interested in sex. I've never met one that was. They couldn't give a fig what Mommy and Daddy are doing in the bedroom. They're not even curious. They are curious about their bodies and about relationships and about babies.
However, if the UNESCO sex ed curriculim is adopted by all schools, five year olds will be learning that:
- Forced marraiges and child marraiges are harmful and are usually illegal: Yes, I agree, but does my five year old need to know that right now? He still thinks he can marry his sister, me, and four of his classmates. Apparently four is the limit, however, and there's trouble in his Kindergarten class cause he's already married three and there are another two that want to wed him. Plus they want a joint wedding.
- Families, individuals, peers, and communities are sources of information about sex and gender: Again, nothing wrong with this statement in general; but I'm frankly not prepared for my five year old to see his peers and community as sources of information about anything. There's plenty of time for him to rebel against our beliefs and values in ten year's time. For now can we please just let the parents lay the foundation?
- Inappropriate touching, unwanted and forced sex (rape) are forms of sexual abuse: I'm sorry . . . did I just see the word "rape" in a five year old's school books?
- Puberty is a time of physcial and emotional change that happens as children grow and mature: Puberty, eh? Look, he's still trying to understand the concept that he can outgrow the pants he wore last year. Really, do we need to be bringing up puberty already. Oh, I know, we teach them about puberty when their five so that we have time to teach them about menopause when they're twelve!
- Everyone has the right to decide who can touch their body, where, and in what way: No, I'm sorry. He does not have that right yet. If he did have that right he'd be letting everyone and sundry see his penis. He's quite enamoured with it and proud of it, you know. And he'd be telling me I don't have the "right" to wipe his face or make him take eyedrops.
- People kiss, hug, touch, and engage in sexual behaviours with one another to show care, love, physical intimacy and to feel good: Gee whiz, why don't we mention prostitutes and porn actors that have sex for money? Right now my child understands sex as a way to make a baby. That's because he's interested in babies, not sex. Apparently, though it's necessary that he know all the reasons why someone might have sex and also that sex seems to be on a level playing field with kissing, hugging, and touching.
- There's also a whole section on HIV/AIDS that I'm not quite comfortable with. Again, the boy is not ready. He's still trying to get a grasp on this whole concept of germs and how we spread them. I don't think he's ready for the specifics of any disease or virus, whether that be influenza, HIV, or cancer.
- ALL italicised sentences are direct quotes from the UNESCO Sex Ed Curriculim Guidelines for 5-8 Year olds
Am I a prude? Am I too controlling of my five year old? Isn't that a ridiculous question? I mean he's five; shouldn't I be the one in control? Is it wrong to want to wait until my child expresses questions or concerns or interest in sex before I go telling him all about it?
And on a complete other tangent, how is it that the schools that have such limited time for physical education, music, arts and crafts, field trips, etc are going to be able to find time to teach this 26 page curriculim guide?
What do you think of Kindergarten Sex Ed?