Yesterday morning after I returned from dropping the MoH off at work, I had the dubious pleasure of listening to NPR report on local attitudes about sex education for 5th graders. Obviously, there’s been quite a bit of talk on the subject since McCain was forced by the GOP bigdogs to chose Sarah Palin as his running mate.
In the sound byte, a woman squealed in a key that would rival that of a soprano, that her son was “toooooooooooooooooooooo young for that!”
“That” would be learning about his body. Learning to understand how it works and feels and how not to feel strange or guilty over any of it.
I believe that parents should talk to their kids about hormonally charged bodily functions, puberty, and sex — preferrably before a teacher does. In today’s world, that means before the age of 12 in many schools. But I know absolutely that many parents don’t.
It doesn’t seem to be a conscientious decision on their part not to as much as one influenced by discomfort, although those quoted on the radio had definite opinions about it:
- 5th graders are too young to hear about “that stuff”
- “it” will make them uncomfortable about their bodies
- “it” will make them wonder about it, thereby increasing the likelihood that they’ll become sexually active sooner than they may have had they not heard about it.
- blah, blah, blah
- yadda, yadda, yadda
Give me a break. I’m thinking that digging a hole in the backyard just big enough for one’s head may help with ignorance of this magnitude.
Then there’s the other side: if you don’t speak to your kids about sex, they’ll hear about it elsewhere.
Okay, so unfortunately, there is some truth to that. I used to be amazed by what kids brought to school. Whether it was from their parents, older brothers and sisters, observation, watching television, movies, or surfing the Internet, they knew about “it.”
When the time for “SEX ED” rolled around each year, I winced and groused about why the P.E. or Science teachers weren’t given the responsibility of teaching the subject matter instead of myself, an English teacher. After all, I’d have looked forward to eating glass more than yet again having to instruct a room full of snickering adolescents from a giant penis displayed from the overhead projector.
Kids would peer through the window first thing each morning to see what topic was on the agenda for the day, just waiting to sit down and write their private questions to be put in the box and drawn out to be addressed during open discussion. I had to censor a few from time to time because I was surprised about what some of my 11-year-olds already knew, and there were distinct limits to what the coursework entailed: physiology, function, reproduction, and disease. Absolutely nothing about birth control and definitely nothing about sex.
At our house, the RTR learned about the birds and the bees first through informal questions and natural curiousity. Then, when he was in the 4th grade, he learned what the school described as “human physiology” and was required to give a comprehensive report to the MoH and myself to get credit for his learning.
The philosophy for why the kids were taught so young was because they wouldn’t deal with the information in a way that was goofy, or silly. That because they hadn’t reached puberty yet, they wouldn’t be squirmy about the information and would handle it like all the other information they were learning.
I thought at the time, fine. And the RTR did stand in front of the two of us with composure and confidence while the two of us squirmed a bit with discomfort about our then 9-year-old talking about penises and breasts, testicles, and vaginas complete with labeled diagrams all tucked nicely in his project folder.
But I also know that kids can behave in a particular way depending on how something is handled at home. If something isn’t discussed, or treated as if it’s inappropriate to think about, or worse, joked about, then guess what? That’s how they often act when it comes up at school. Big surprise, right?
When it comes right down to it, even if kids are taught the ins and outs of sex (sorry, I couldn’t resist…)by their parents, at school, or from the now questionable sources I was subjected to when I was fourteen, they’ll do what they want when the time comes — and it won’t have anything to do with any politician that I can think of.
In fact, I know a lot of adults who behave in the same fashion, and it’s the direct result of NOT thinking with one’s brain.