Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Age appropriate sex education for children

Last week Senator Barack Obama caught the attention a few of the holier-than-thou crowd, including Governor Mitt Romney, when he mentioned he favored age-appropriate sex education for kindergarteners. Putting the words “sex” and “kindergarteners” in the same sentence certainly carries some risk for any aspiring Presidential candidate but what he said was pure common sense. Education, regardless of the subject, should always be age appropriate but within that context information should never be withheld particularly when it comes to sexuality.

I have a little experience with the subject in that my wife and I had the privilege of teaching a sex education program a few years ago at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, Virginia. The course was AYS (About Your Sexuality) that preceded the current OWL (Our Whole Lives) curriculum. Both courses are comprehensive life-span programs starting with kindergarteners and going through adulthood. The main focus in on middle-school kids since this is when puberty kicks in for most kids (actually, young adults at this point). If I learned nothing else from teaching these kids about sexuality it was that they knew a lot more than their parents thought they knew but a lot less than they thought they knew. Sex education for all kids is very important for families, churches and schools to be doing.

Rev. Debra Haffner is a Unitarian Universalist minister in Connecticut who is the Director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing. She appeared on the Bill O’Reilly show following Senator Obama’s remarks (see below) last week. She explained the need for age-appropriate sex education for children.

Following the interview she wrote on her blog:

Mr. O'Reilly got a little hung up on my using the word "uterus" in describing where babies come from. He said using it would take away children's innocence and would be too complicated. In response, I told him that children needed to know the word penis and vulva too. He looked confused about "vulva." I wonder what he would have done if I had said clitoris or scrotum on air.

He probably still would have looked confused.

(Thanks to Philocrites for the tip.)

1 comment:

Comrade Kevin said...

The cure for ignorance is education. I suppose what I object to most about abstainence-only education is that it doesn't bother to teach fundamental vocabulary words like "penis", "vulva", or "scrotum" and put them in a proper context.

It just says, "don't have sex until marriage because we said so." Not very realistic in my mind.

As a matter of fact, I didn't have any sort of really comprehensive sex education outside of AYS was when I was in college. And the sad truth about it was that I a man could identify correctly more parts of the female reproductive system then most of the females in the class!