When Did You Start Talking To Your Kid About Bodies And Sexuality?

May 10, 2016  |  

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What would you do if your 3rd grader came to you with questions about bodies and sexuality? Would you avoid the topic or face it head on because you had already prepared yourself for the moment?

Nowadays trying to prevent your child or teen from seeing certain sexually explicit content or images would be like asking them not to blink their eyes–it’s almost impossible. We are living in a Snapchat, gossip blog, Instagram, Facebook, Periscope, and Tumblr era where nothing at all, not even a personal doctor’s appointment is private anymore. Plus, it is much harder to monitor your child’s behavior when they aren’t with you and to grasp what it is they already know about sex education.

So what age is too early to start having “the talk” in school?  Some sex educators say the sooner the better. Last year California paved a new road becoming the first state to require affirmative-consent education. This new legislation focuses on teaching that “yes means yes”  in order to help prevent sexual violence. This legislation requires preventative education during student orientation, increased access to counseling resources, training for adjudication panels, and California colleges are being held more accountable for prevention and a consistent protocol regarding sexual assault.

While many think this is a step in the right direction, there are some educators that think it’s simply not enough. Instead of just focusing on one aspect of sex education, these educators believe the focus should be on comprehensive sex education taught at a much earlier age.

A 2008 United Nations report found that comprehensive sex education allows young people to “explore their attitudes and values, and to practice the decision-making and other life skills they will need to be able to make informed choices about their sexual lives.”

In addition to that, a study from Georgetown University shows that starting sex education in primary school helps avoid unintended pregnancies, maternal deaths, unsafe abortions and STDs.

There is a growing movement among sex educators who want comprehensive sex-education programs that start as early as kindergarten. Educators in the Netherlands however are gaining international attention with their approach that starts teaching kids as early as 4. Their approach is more about kids embracing sexuality in stages and  having honest conversations about their bodies.

Ineke van der Vlugt, an expert on youth sexual development for Rutgers WPF, the Dutch sexuality research institute behind the curriculum, said: “There were societal concerns that sexualization in the media could be having a negative impact on kids,” van der Vlugt said. “We wanted to show that sexuality also has to do with respect, intimacy and safety.”

One 2014 study found that 40 percent of parents in the United States support comprehensive sexual education. More specifically, these parents were in support of teaching reproductive and human anatomy as well as sexualorientation issues in elementary school.

What are your thoughts? When did you start talking to your child about their bodies and sexuality? Do you agree or disagree that comprehensive sex education should start as early as kindergarten?

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