Explaining Sex to Kids

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Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby michaelandjimi » Wed Dec 10, 2008 6:14 am UTC

In a nutshell, this thread's aim is to answer the question "What age is it appropriate to teach a child about sex?"

Now, on a recent holiday trip I had the pleasure of discussing this with some friends. The overarching consensus was "At the onset of puberty". When pressed further, he explained that people earlier than the age of puberty lacked the emotional maturity to understand it, and that puberty was also the time when this information would be useful. He cited "Friend X" as an example - he, at the age of 7, was explained to about sex and immediately ran around and joked about it with friends, and nobody really understood it.

However, this raised some interesting questions in my mind. Most importantly: Should one wait until a child has the maturity to understand a concept before it is explained? How would someone know if their child is mature enough?

Personally, I'm not sure I see a link between puberty and emotional maturity, so it's possible that the child may be emotionally mature enough to know about it earlier, if even maturity is required for an explanation. If Friend X had the same reaction to, say, long division, would it have been any different? Would he have lacked the emotional maturity to understand long division? Why is sex a topic that requires emotional maturity?

Some people would say "Whenever the child asks about sex". This may be a good rule of thumb, but it would imply that they had learnt at least a smattering of information about the topic.

My last question, mostly irrelevant to the above, is: Are the parents the most appropriate people to explain about sex? Would a teacher be better, or perhaps a book?
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Lucrece » Wed Dec 10, 2008 6:25 am UTC

Seeing as how interaction between different-sexed children is often given ultimate sexual undertones-- look at the baby-style drawings of a boy and a girl holding hands, which is simply innuendo for the union of man and woman, consummated by sex-- I doubt puberty is really a prerequisite. I would say the best time to talk about it is when one starts noticing some interest--awareness-- in the subject by the child.

As for who should be teaching it, that is irrelevant. Assuming an American standpoint, society treats children as property of the parents, not as members of society (until they reach age of maturity requirements). A teacher might be better to teach children about sex-- say, cases in which homosexuality needs to be explained, due to obvious bias on the part of some parents-- but current law makes aspirations toward optimal situations irrelevant; the parents get to decide what their children learn and do not learn. Both a good (in cases of oppressive/poisonous government or social dynamics) and bad ( parents get to pass down prejudices) thing.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby michaelandjimi » Wed Dec 10, 2008 6:37 am UTC

Lucrece wrote:Seeing as how interaction between different-sexed children is often given ultimate sexual undertones-- look at the baby-style drawings of a boy and a girl holding hands, which is simply innuendo for the union of man and woman, consummated by sex-- I doubt puberty is really a prerequisite.
May you please provide links which corroborrate this? I'm skeptical, currently, and lazy enough to not Google on my own. And you can guarantee others will probably ask similarly.

Regarding who should be teaching it, I agree that teachers should. Though they may be just as biased as parents can be, they are at least obliged to provide all of the information and would have actions taken against them if they displayed obvious anti-homosexual (insert group as appropriate) leanings in their teaching.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby JayDee » Wed Dec 10, 2008 6:51 am UTC

michaelandjimi wrote:Some people would say "Whenever the child asks about sex". This may be a good rule of thumb, but it would imply that they had learnt at least a smattering of information about the topic.
Given the content of modern pop culture, I think you would have trouble finding kids without at least a smattering of information on the topic. I've known 8-9 year old kids to talk amongst themselves about sex (and related topics) in plenty of detail, and to show at least a rough mechanical knowledge of what goes on. Hell, I remember (hilarious, looking back) conversations from when I was in grade 3, about that age.

An increase in emotional maturity during puberty (or various neurological changes that imply a betterance of understanding these types of things) makes sense. But it's not like explaining sex is something that happens once and then it's done. There are a troupe of traveling sex educators visiting my sisters (primary) school this fortnight, who have a range of seminars for all the different aged kids. From memory, the first talks about some of the differences between boys and girls, the second about pregnancy. The third was either about puberty or sex, I can't remember. Reading the form, it seemed a quite sensible way of going about things. Sex education in high school of course will cover more detailed things, including useful stuff like STDs and protection. Anyway, my point is that sex education shouldn't be about bestowing secret information on kids when they come of age, it should be an ongoing thing.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby eternal luna » Wed Dec 10, 2008 7:04 am UTC

I'd say sometime around the 4th or 5th grade at the latest, and that it should be done by teachers, or someone more qualified who comes to the school specifically to do this. Maybe not the application of condoms and birth control, but the basics of what it is at least. I agree with JayDee on the need for different talks at different ages.

Some kids will never display any interest or ask questions, and, while it will never affect some people's lives, it's pretty important information for most of us. Otherwise we end up with cases like a 17 year old friend of mine, who, until about a month ago, did not know anything about sex beyond "Insert Tab A into Slot B"- she was entirely unaware that there is movement involved :|
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby michaelandjimi » Wed Dec 10, 2008 7:06 am UTC

Yes, JayDee, you are right about the range of sex education that a child will learn over time. I was mainly referring to the "Okay, this is where babies come from and how they are made and whatnot", as that seems to be the most pertinent topic to most people.

However, I would still like to promote discussion as to when they should learn about other things.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Luthen » Wed Dec 10, 2008 7:58 am UTC

I agree with JayDee about the gradual topics in schools, too.

My position is that schools should be teaching at least the basics (contraception, STDs, mechanics) but parents should be expected to teach as well. Ideally kids should feel safe to talk about it with their parents when they're ready. More personally, each house should have a basic puberty/sex book on a shelf somewhere where the kids know about it, so they can "borrow" it if they're embarrassed.

Even if the kids aren't mature enough to understand the full details, an openness with them when young will help them to ask questions when they're older. I know my Mum did that, when I was about 8 or 9 I started asking questions, so my mum bought "Let's talk about sex". I don't think I really was interested for long but I think that helped me feel secure in asking my parents questions when I was older. I just checked, and yes the book is still on the shelf in the front hallway.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Malice » Wed Dec 10, 2008 8:53 am UTC

I like the idea of teaching them a basic version early on, when they first show interest, and then deepening that understanding as it becomes necessary and as they become better equipped to comprehend it.

What would you do if you were trying not to expose them to it, and they asked you? I wouldn't want to lie to my kid ("oh, that's the stork that does that"). Or at least, I'd prefer a simplification ("when two people love each other, they make a baby").

I don't see why you wouldn't handle it like any other thing, really. Teach them as much of the truth as they want and as they can handle. Why shield kids from their own bodily functions?
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby BrainMagMo » Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:01 am UTC

As soon as the are allowed out side on their own, or to be babysat.
Otherwise, how are we supposed to let them know to not have sex with strangers?
But not, like, the details, just a general warning about keeping your pants on.

More detail about the process, I think, should be given at the beginning of puberty.
Perhaps the first year details about pregnancy, true information about STDs, condoms, circumcision, sex v gender v orientation, sex rates (so they don't start feeling "everyone is doing it"), etc.
And later, I think classes should encourage a frank, honest conversation in smaller groups would be good.

Overall, a parent I think would only be required to tell warnings about strangers, about what expectations they have (e.g. don't have sex till in a long-term relationship or something), and some basic info if asked. Schools would be required to give information.

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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby eternal luna » Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:24 am UTC

If the parents are expected to teach, there should be some sort of standardised book for them to follow to avoid them peddling misinformation to scare their kids off sex (or simply because they've been misinformed themselves) - the pieces I've heard (among others) are:
- girls who have a lot of sex become covered with acne
- having sex when you are younger than 25 will result in a larger than normal crotch gap (between the legs) that everyone will notice.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Sonja » Wed Dec 10, 2008 2:30 pm UTC

I remember when I was in elementary school (I think grades 6, 7 and 8, I can't remember all that well), we had a couple of class periods where we were split into male and female groups, and they discussed the basics of 'where babies come from' and explained what birth control and contraception is, but that chastity is a better way to deal with it at our age. This was a catholic elementary, so the fact that we got this much was actually rather impressive.

In high school, they came out and explained exactly what everything was, how to obtain birth control and contraception, along with everything else we needed to know for good sexual health. They covered it mostly in grades 9 and 10.

I think this is the way it should be done. Tell them the facts over time and make it part of the school environment. Kids are going to have sex even if you don't explain it to them and even if we tell them not too, so I don't understand why society has made sexual education such a 'taboo' thing. We owe it to children to give them the information they need to protect themselves in a sexual situation instead of lying to them and telling them silly stories (I've heard girls who thought they couldn't get pregnant if they stood up after sex, for example).

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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby psyck0 » Wed Dec 10, 2008 2:41 pm UTC

The time to tell them about sex is when they first start asking about their genitals, or where babies come from. You go into progressively more detail as they get older, obviously, but you don't lie to them. In schools, grade 4 or 5 would seem the optimal time to introduce it, after (hopefully) most of the kids have heard about it from their parents.

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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Moo » Wed Dec 10, 2008 2:45 pm UTC

I think the approach my parents used was a good one; and similar to Malice's suggestion. When I started asking where babies come from they gave me honest answers but a level of detail I could understand (starting with "a mommy and daddy make one together" as a young child and later more information was added until The Talk, which was accompanied by quite a good book). It requires a parent to know their child well enough to know how much info they can handle but that is not an unreasonable thing to expect.

Schools should have a hand in it (to catch the kids who fall through the cracks of not having parents or parents who aren't willing to talk about it, and make sure all kids get honest answers and an adequate level of detail) but ideally parents should be able to answer questions kids have after coming home from a group lesson. Perhaps parents should be educated on how to educate their kids ons sex, even.

I think we watched a video at school at age 9 but by then I knew everything they were saying. It was a mostly positive experience though. We had a detailed lesson at 13 where the boys and girls were taken to seperate classes and taught about everything from condoms to periods.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby clintonius » Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:17 pm UTC

Grr -- apparently google scholar isn't as open and free as I was led to believe. Here's a link to the abstract of a meta-analysis regarding the effect of sex ed programs on youth. The most pertinent quote is this, with emphasis added:
The most effective school programs promoted both delay in sexual intercourse and protected sex when youth are sexually active. They were most effective when provided before youth become sexually active and when they focused on skills and social norms rather than knowledge.
Obviously, that deals more with sex and its ramifications than with the educational process of teaching kids where babies come from.

Moo, I'm surprised your school waited so long to split the guys and girls out into separate groups for that sort of education. That was 4th grade (age 9) for me, and I think it's important to get to that point early because a number of girls do get their first period at a young age (less than 10% according to this wiki article, but that's still a fair number of humans).
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Moo » Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:26 pm UTC

Yeah, I agree. I come from an extremely conservative culture - it's a pleasant surprise we had (non abstinence-only) sex ed at all.

I think the delay you noticed - at least when I was growing up, over a decade ago - was a combination of the expectation in Afrikaans culture (it could be South African culture but I can't speak for backgrounds I wasn't raised in) that parents will do a decent job of sex ed at home and that girls get told about periods from their mothers (and other primarily female role models) and don't have to rely on school to teach it; and the fact that sexual activity at a young age was not something people liked to ponder in a conservative culture back then.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Lucrece » Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:45 pm UTC

michaelandjimi wrote:
Lucrece wrote:Seeing as how interaction between different-sexed children is often given ultimate sexual undertones-- look at the baby-style drawings of a boy and a girl holding hands, which is simply innuendo for the union of man and woman, consummated by sex-- I doubt puberty is really a prerequisite.
May you please provide links which corroborrate this? I'm skeptical, currently, and lazy enough to not Google on my own. And you can guarantee others will probably ask similarly.

Regarding who should be teaching it, I agree that teachers should. Though they may be just as biased as parents can be, they are at least obliged to provide all of the information and would have actions taken against them if they displayed obvious anti-homosexual (insert group as appropriate) leanings in their teaching.


http://s7d4.scene7.com/s7ondemand/zoom/ ... 0900145001

And other dolls like these, which show children in actual children clothing-- not just doll-like representations of adults. These dolls are everywhere, from hospitals to other inspirational shops. It is not even rare to find movies where children as early as 7 are having crushes/courting (so long as they're different-sexed, the "Awww, so cute"'s are there). The innuendo isn't so much what's rejected; it's when they actually commit the act, which is supposed to take place at much higher ages.

As for methods, I've always been curious why they segregate males and females when discussing the topic. It presents ugly presumptions.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby segmentation fault » Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:48 pm UTC

i was taught the basics of sex in 4th grade (~8 or 9 years old, and by basics i mean "guy has penis and puts it in vagina and ejects sperm which fertilizes eggs and makes baby").

but aside from personal anecdotes, puberty can occur anywhere between age 8-15. a child should know what the hell is going on beforehand, or at least during the time its occurring. hormones will start flowing and telling the child things he or she will not understand. he/she will start having urges, and not know how to handle them in a safe manner. its like giving your child a gun before teaching him about gun safety. bad things can happen.

now i know the counter argument is "Oh me yarm if we teach kids about sex theyre gonna be having sex at a young age!" to be honest i see the contrary. when kids dont know what the hell is going on, they are going to figure it out the hard way, sometimes from some 40 year old they meet on the internet. their bodies are telling them to have sex, so before they do it, you should inform them, and explain when the right time is.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby telcontar42 » Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:57 pm UTC

My dad is a doctor and my mom does work in child abuse prevention so they are both very comfortable with talking to kids about sex. It wasn't the kind of thing where at a certain age they sat me down and talked to me about sex. They just didn't treat sex as a taboo topic for as far back as I can remember. If it came up we would talk about it, so I just picked up information about sex over time without one specific "talk". If anything, they were at times too open about sex and would talk about it more that I really wanted to hear.

I think this is a healthy way to raise children. Sex is natural and fairly omnipresent in our society. Kids are going to pick up information about sex from a very early age anyway if they ever leave the house, see a television, go near a computer, etc. It seems better to be very open about sex so that they gradually learn about it in a positive way from there parents, instead of just learning about it from the media, which is often more negative.

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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby clintonius » Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:22 pm UTC

segmentation fault wrote:now i know the counter argument is "Oh me yarm if we teach kids about sex theyre gonna be having sex at a young age!" to be honest i see the contrary.
As does the meta-analysis I linked above, if my interpretation of the quoted text is correct.

Lucrece wrote:As for methods, I've always been curious why they segregate males and females when discussing the topic. It presents ugly presumptions.
Such as? I understand the importance of making sure sex and bodily functions aren't taboo, but I also don't see anything wrong with giving boys and girls separate venues to learn about their changing bodily functions for the first time. It seems like a comfort and privacy issue to me.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Indon » Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:23 pm UTC

I'd go with 'whenever they ask', and I'd say if anything it would be more effective before puberty.

Kids don't need to understand sex in an emotional sense. They need to understand it in an intellectual sense, and when they hit puberty they need to understand sexual emotions in an intellectual sense.

We should not and can not count on a child's emotional capability to make the right decision. Only their intellectual capability, which we know does work, given sufficient and accurate information.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Moo » Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:26 pm UTC

As for methods, I've always been curious why they segregate males and females when discussing the topic. It presents ugly presumptions.
I expect adult males to not freak out when a tampon falls out of a handbag. However at 12, 13, 14 when a boy is self conscious about his changing body and about girls, and girls are self conscious about their changing bodies, no reasonable person can expect them to be 100% comfortable about all aspects of each other's bodies. Or, more importantly, to ask candid and honest questions in front of the opposite gender.

Also, there will be many issues to cover and questions to answer that do not overlap between the two genders ("how do I use a tampon", "why do I get hardons in my sleep") so it seems a waste of time to not do it concurrently.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Lucrece » Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:28 pm UTC

clintonius wrote:
Lucrece wrote:As for methods, I've always been curious why they segregate males and females when discussing the topic. It presents ugly presumptions.
Such as? I understand the importance of making sure sex and bodily functions aren't taboo, but I also don't see anything wrong with giving boys and girls separate venues to learn about their changing bodily functions for the first time. It seems like a comfort and privacy issue to me.


I meant discussion of sex, not how their sexual organs function. We need to ask why there's a comfort/privacy issue in the first place; why is it different for a group of girls to be explained sex by themselves as opposed to being explained along with a group of boys? I think it's because humiliation/harassment is presumed to ensue in such cases.

EDIT: The above poster makes some interesting points. To those I respond: If homosexual/bisexual teenagers can cope with forums in which they're dealing with potential sexual interests, why can't heterosexuals? Are heterosexuals somehow more likely to be unable to deal with sexual tension/anxiety?
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Moo » Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:33 pm UTC

Well kids who are only starting to reach puberty and are still quite immature can be expected to be... immature. And people often use humour or bullying to hide their own embarrassment. It seems to me absurd to introduce that and remove the safety and comfort of being able to talk candidly for the sake of being overly PC. Boys and girls are self conscious about their developing sexuality and the opposite sex. This is a fact and nothing's wrong with that; we all grow into who we are and it takes time.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Lucrece » Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:44 pm UTC

Moo wrote:Well kids who are only starting to reach puberty and are still quite immature can be expected to be... immature. And people often use humour or bullying to hide their own embarrassment. It seems to me absurd to introduce that and remove the safety and comfort of being able to talk candidly for the sake of being overly PC. Boys and girls are self conscious about their developing sexuality and the opposite sex. This is a fact and nothing's wrong with that; we all grow into who we are and it takes time.


I didn't see it as an attempt to be PC; I'm sorry if I'm coming off that way. My concern is that it enforces the socially-cultivated view that males and females can never coexist in close environments. I'm thinking more on the long-term, as to how we can teach children of different sexes to not put up this barrier of mystery and alienation when perceiving the other sex.

I'm talking in these terms because victimization of women by men stems often from a lack of empathy brought on by thorough separation of the sexes. If the sexes grow up facing issues together, there's a larger sense of cohesion, and thus more sexual maturity.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Moo » Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:50 pm UTC

Now I see your point. I still maintain it will hamper open and honest discussion if you put them together for basic sex ed; perhaps if it was a series of classes (I have no idea; it was a once in a while special thing when I was at school) the last few classes can be co-ed.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby clintonius » Wed Dec 10, 2008 5:35 pm UTC

I agree that general education regarding sex doesn't need to, and shouldn't, be handled in separate venues for males and females. Most of my health/sex courses were co-ed. I was thinking about dividing by sex the relatively early education concerning "how my body works," etc, for the self-consciousness reasons that Moo pointed out. If you get that out of the way around age 9 or 10, later education need not cover the same ground (I would *hope* that everyone has an understanding of their own workings by that age. That's not the case, but hey, we're talking ideals here).
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby michaelandjimi » Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:24 pm UTC

Thanks, people. Continue discussing the topic, by all means, but I'm currently curious about the answers to these questions:
michaelandjimi wrote:If Friend X had the same reaction to, say, long division, would it have been any different? Would he have lacked the emotional maturity to understand long division? Why is sex a topic that requires emotional maturity?
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby qbg » Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:38 pm UTC

Having parents explain it is fine and all, but teachers should explain it also for those who don't get the talk from their parents. I can say as someone who never got the talk (and learned what I did outside of school by slowly breaking the taboos on learning that kind of information) that the lack of information makes some things more difficult, though not understanding the insults being thrown at you in middle school can be a slight advantage.

As for age, all I know is that I think it should be before the child's mid-teens (or 16-17).

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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby solitarysock » Thu Dec 11, 2008 12:21 am UTC

I think it would be best just not to not talk about it, so children will learn about it just like about any other thing. If, for some reason, it still never gets mentioned, I'd say at around the age of 9 or 10, and having a book easily available is a great idea, too. Schools should do it, too, better have it twice than not at all.
I can't remember my parents ever directly explaining anything to me. I think I learned most stuff through reading etc. I also was never restricted in any way in my reading choices, and did have not directly supervised internet access (that was ~1998, though, so I couldn't just go and look stuff up on wikipedia). However, they also didn't really answer questions when I did (more or less) ask them, that was less good. It turned out all right in the end, though.
That said, I had incredibly embarassing sex education at school in grade 7. They covered the basics, including contraception. Then they handed out condoms for the boys and tampons for the girls... as if most 13-14 year old girls didn't yet know what that is. Or about sex in general. That was just a bit late...
(On the other hand, in grade 11, when we asked if we could have some experts tell us about drugs, like another class did, so we didn't have to have lesson, they told us that by now it would be too late anyway...)

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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby studyinserendipity » Thu Dec 11, 2008 1:10 am UTC

Young children are very interested in themselves and their bodies, so I believe they should be learning honest facts about their bodies and the ways they work. Like other posters have mentioned, there does not have to be gratuitous graphic detail, but children in kindergarten and first grade should know where babies come from and understand their bodies. Plus, if you teach children to be knowledgeable about sex, you give them the tools to recognize a 'bad touch'.
The book I plan on having in my classroom (I'm certified preK to grade 2) is It's Not The Stork by Robie Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley. The illustrations are detailed and well-labeled (honestly, I think it taught me more about my body than I knew before). It also explains the act of sex, states that it is something adults do, and discusses what can be considered a 'good' and 'bad' touch. The final part of the book discusses how a baby develops and different types of families. It is seriously a great book to loan to parents (especially those who do not know an effective way to present this information to their children) and to have available for children to look at, read, and ask about.
Apparently the author/illustrator duo has a few books out that follow through the grades and explain the same ideas in greater detail (an idea many other posters came across). I think I remember my children's lit. professor mentioning that they are even creating an 'About My Body' book for toddlers and pre-kindergarten children.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Khuxan » Thu Dec 11, 2008 1:28 am UTC

While michaelandjimi has brought up the first part of our conversation, he didn't mention the secondary question that arose:

What does sex education constitute?

As an example, one girl in the conversation was horrified that homosexual educators had come into a classroom and taught children about homosexual sex - including anal sex and "fisting". She thought that sex-acts-that-aren't-quite-sex like fisting, anal sex, oral sex and so on should not be described in detail - or at least not enough detail that the class essentially included advice on how to actually perform the act. I am of the opinion that teachers, however awkward it may be, should give at least an overview of sex acts for pleasure as well as reproduction.

What are your opinions?
Last edited by Khuxan on Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:02 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Delass » Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:16 am UTC

I dont really think any details "other than don't show anyone your penis or vagina" are necessary before puberty. Sure, they might hear something from their friend with an older sibling or something, but before puberty its a stupid joke no one actually understands or focuses on. At 7, the opposite sex has cooties, remember?

Oh, and I don't remember anything sexual before puberty...I had a crush or something I barely remember, but If we did anything, at the most it was kiss, and not in a sexual way. I also guess I took baths with a girl I dont remember, but again, not sexual.

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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby michaelandjimi » Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:36 am UTC

Delass wrote:I dont really think any details "other than don't show anyone your penis or vagina" are necessary before puberty. Sure, they might hear something from their friend with an older sibling or something, but before puberty its a stupid joke no one actually understands or focuses on. At 7, the opposite sex has cooties, remember?
Perhaps. But my question is: Why wait until puberty, or "emotional maturity"? Why is sexual intercourse a subject that must wait until early teenage years to be broached?
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Flagpole Sitta » Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:56 am UTC

michaelandjimi wrote:
Delass wrote:But my question is: Why wait until puberty, or "emotional maturity"? Why is sexual intercourse a subject that must wait until early teenage years to be broached?


Sex is very emotionally charged. Most of these emotions go over the head of someone who is prepubescent, I think. Sure you can, and should, explain the mechanics of sex, and you can, and should, explain reproduction and they will 'get' that. But until the hormones kick in and their body starts wanting babies, I don't think kids can understand the desire for sex. There are a lot of social and emotional implications that will just go over their heads.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Intercept » Thu Dec 11, 2008 4:28 am UTC

Khuxan wrote:While michaelandjimi has brought up the first part of our conversation, he didn't mention the secondary question that arose:

What does sex education constitute?

As an example, one girl in the conversation was horrified that homosexual educators had come into a classroom and taught children about homosexual sex - including anal sex and "fisting". She thought that sex-acts-that-aren't-quite-sex like fisting, anal sex, oral sex and so on should not be described in detail - or at least not enough detail that the class essentially included advice on how to actually perform the act. I am of the opinion that teachers, however awkward it may be, should give at least an overview of sex acts for pleasure as well as reproduction.

What are your opinions?


Well, non-vaginal sex should still be discussed. There are risks associated with all activities and these should be brought up. Also, did that girl not consider that there were probably homosexual people in the class? Or there would be in other classes?
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby suffer-cait » Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:06 am UTC

while i don't believe that they "should give at least an overview of sex acts for pleasure as well as reproduction," especially in a discriptive way. i do believe that they should go over the health reprocusions of other types of inter course, what type of reactions to things may be cause for worry, and wether or not there is the slightest chance of getting pregnant from that type of intercourse. i deffinitly think that speaking about fisting or other non-anal/oral/vag sex is not necisary, especially if we are talking about sex ed for pre teens. i feel that high school health class (which i believe most of us are required to take) should be were we talk about more "advanced" sexual situations, be able to speak of all such things freely in an informative setting and review the basic health stuff. though i do realise people at that age still won't necissarily respond to such topics maturely, unfortunetly.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Ari » Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:14 am UTC

I'm pretty much with Malice here- simplify for very young kids, but they need to know the basic facts (sex is usually between people who love each other, it normally results in kids, etc...) as early as possible.

It's also worth discussing sex in some detail with pre-pubescent kids in order to teach them to recognise inappropriate interest/touching from adults, social expectations regarding nudity and sexual inhibitions, nondiscrimination, and so on. You certainly don't want to leave kids without the knowledge that could allow them to recognise when they're being abused, at least.

By the time they hit their teens I honestly think they're pretty much ready to have an answer to any question- and they will probably have a general idea by now anyway, so if you want to be the one to give them their first impressions, you should get more complicated in step 2 above, or follow it up soon afterwards. If you'd like to wait 'till the teens, whether you want to do "the talk" personally or leave it to sex ed is up to you, bearing in mind that you may not support the decisions made on that particular part of the curriculum.

I think giving kids honest answers is generally going to result in better behaviour than trying to restrict what they hear, so I can't really endorse things like abstinence-only programs or trying to avoid the subject of casual sex. By the time they're teenagers they're pretty good at knowing when people are lying or being evasive on a subject, and most of them are likely to smell a rat- which will unfortunately lead them to discount the good stuff, like looking for stable partnerships, safe sex, compatibility, and so on, along with whatever it was they read as evasion or lying.
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Lucrece » Thu Dec 11, 2008 6:29 pm UTC

suffer-cait wrote:while i don't believe that they "should give at least an overview of sex acts for pleasure as well as reproduction," especially in a discriptive way. i do believe that they should go over the health reprocusions of other types of inter course, what type of reactions to things may be cause for worry, and wether or not there is the slightest chance of getting pregnant from that type of intercourse. i deffinitly think that speaking about fisting or other non-anal/oral/vag sex is not necisary, especially if we are talking about sex ed for pre teens. i feel that high school health class (which i believe most of us are required to take) should be were we talk about more "advanced" sexual situations, be able to speak of all such things freely in an informative setting and review the basic health stuff. though i do realise people at that age still won't necissarily respond to such topics maturely, unfortunetly.


Well, what I'm curious about is why they discussed fisting when it came to homosexuals. Fisting makes a minuscule portion of homosexuals practicing it, nearly the same portion as heterosexuals who fist (yes, there's such a thing as fisting by heterosexuals). They didn't include more kinky stuff done by heterosexuals; why include the homosexual kinks? I would guess the standards would be anal, oral, vaginal, and vaginal sex, possibly also including fingering (as it's often used in preparation for penetration).
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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Virtual_Aardvark » Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:45 pm UTC

I personally learned at four. My dad tried just saying a man and a woman love each other and then make a baby, but I asked for the mechanics as well. At the time I thought the whole thing was pretty hilarious, but as I grew up and learned about the emotional side of things I had accurate facts to match up.

I got the school sex talk when I was 12, but it wasn't as helpful. Lesbian sex wasn't covered at all and most of my questions were dodged. I did later figure it out for myself but I would have appreciated some information to go on.

I don't think the facts have any emotional connotation, its society that puts that there. I can't see any problem in telling a kid as much of the truth as they want to hear.

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Re: Explaining Sex to Kids

Postby Indon » Thu Dec 11, 2008 10:07 pm UTC

Khuxan wrote:What does sex education constitute?

...

What are your opinions?


In my experience, teenagers who are not explicitly told at some point that oral, anal, etc are sex, become prone to perform them specifically thinking they aren't having sex.

And I'm pretty sure nothing good can come of that.
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