The Liberal Democrat party in Great Britain is proposing that “age appropriate” sex education classes be introduced to include internet porn and social media for students as young as seven-years-old. Is that too young? The next question would be with whom should the initial sex education conversation begin with, the parents or the educational system?
Most parents are not exactly thrilled about the idea of having “the talk” with their child when it comes to sexual education. Although they know it must happen the next question is always, “When?” The problem is so many parents shy away from the topic until it is too late or they irresponsibly leave it up to the educational system to handle the “difficult” conversation.
STDs have become a serious concern worldwide. This generation has not been properly educated and as a result has been some of the primary transmitters. With younger and younger children operating social media pages and being exposed to inappropriate images, it makes some wonder if the United States should also start sex education earlier?
Again, the main question educators and parents alike struggle with is not what or how, but when. Some feel the younger the better while others maintain that belief that children should have reached puberty before the conversation starts. Those who oppose sex education for the younger aged children have reasoned it will take away their innocence and corrupt their minds.
Research has shown that the concept of sex is by no means an alien idea to young kids. Children are far more intelligent today than in generations past and as a result are keen to know more. It is important to note children are actively engaged in shaping what they come to learn and know about sexuality. The outcome of a child’s knowledge is not solely a product of what an adult decides to tell them. Even with several studies surrounding this vast subject the idea of introducing children to sex education is still met with great opposition.
Whether people accept it or not some form of sexuality starts as a child grows and becomes familiar with certain parts of their anatomy. They began to touch themselves and even caress their sensitive areas. Then as they are held and rubbed marks a child’s earliest connection with love and intimacy. Although it may not be intentional, a parent or guardian becomes the child’s introduction to sex education in a very real and substantial way.
I’m sure many will argue that healthy touching and caressing of a child has nothing to do with sexual education but it does. Everyone seeks to be touch or handled in some form. Touching is a great bridge to communicate about improper verses proper touch. To let them know the necessity of telling an adult if they are touched inappropriately by another. This type of open dialogue increases the child’s comfort level for a more detailed conversation of a sexual nature.
Children develop, or fail to develop, comfort about their sexuality through exploration, play, interactions, and relationships. By developing these avenues in your relationships with your child while helping them understand their experiences, a child has a greater opportunity to form a confident and healthy understanding of both sexuality and themselves.
The way a parent relates to their child’s body, through both words and body language, reveals their level of comfort with the child and the private topic of sex. This sets the foundation for the child’s sex education. Both direct and indirect communications have an impact. So kids learn about our feelings toward sexuality through all of our words, actions, and interactions.
The truth is, it is hard to know exactly what kids are thinking or what to expect from them. One day the parent is changing diapers and before they know the child is headed to high school. Most parents are stuck in a time warp and treat their child as if he or she is younger and less mature than they are. Whenever parents fail to address this important subject matter they leave their child’s learning experience open to their peers’ level of expertise.
Children’s toys are now being created with the natural parts of the body that relate to the sex of the toy. So if the parent does not teach them they will be left at an early age to learn what they can from outside forces mixed with their own imagination. Whether a parent accepts it or not their child is a sexual being too.
The Liberal Democrat party in the UK wants to implement new courses that address sites and apps like Twitter, which can contain sexually explicit material. The party says it wants to avoid “extreme” subjects and make the courses age appropriate. This generation of young people are reaching puberty much faster, this brings us back to where the conversation started. Many will agree young people need to be taught about safe sexual relations in order to make informed decisions, but is seven-years-old too young?
Opinion By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)