In My Opinion
Sex Ed for Kindergartners?
Our Daisy Scout Troop of first grade girls meets in the local high school cafeteria. Due to a scheduling mix-up, we were shuffled into a nearby classroom: the health classroom. On the walls were murals with slogans about AIDS prevention. My 6 year old daughter turned to me after the meeting and asked, "What is AIDS?" This is the point where the experts tell you to answer only the question answered, truthfully but briefly. The experts have never met my daughter. About 20 follow-up questions later, she is asking, "How do you get AIDS?"
Maybe if we lived in Chicago, she would have already learned that in school. Chicago is implementing sex education, starting in kindergarten, amid much fanfare and protest. Proponents of the program say it is necessary to combat the high rate of sexually transmitted infections among teens in Chicago. Parents may opt their children out of the program.
According to new, non-binding, National Sexuality Education Standards from the National Education Association (NEA), students in kindergarten through second grade should be learning the proper names for male and female anatomy and that all animals reproduce. The standards also focus on child abuse prevention and how children should respond to and report abuse.
My 6 and 4 year old children know the correct names of the human anatomy and the basic concept of reproduction (if not the actual mechanics) but I also respect the right of parents to decide when and how to have that conversation.
By calling the K-2 standards "sexuality education" and including anatomy and reproduction, they are courting controversy.
Unfortunately, a lot of parents will opt out and children will miss out on what I believe is a very important component of the standards: education about inappropriate touching that makes the child feel uncomfortable. I don't know if a 5 year old needs to know the medical terminology for body parts but I do think he (or she) should know what to do if someone tries to hurt him.
What do you think? Have you talked about anatomy and reproduction with your primary school children? Is it the school's place to teach these topics? Would you opt out if this program came to your school?