Friday, 13 November 2009

Stepping on eggshells?

Why, here in the UK, do so many people see Sex Education as a problem? The Government is now going to introduce a Sex Education Programme at a younger age and there is such debate going on, as though it was all a big thing. Having sex is a natural thing for goodness sake, like eating, going to the lavatory, breathing. I would hazard a guess that children in African tribes and other "so called" Primitive peoples know the facts of life at a very early age. Why should it all be such a big deal here?

I suspect here in the UK that a lot of it is left over from the Victorian era, when they even put frills round the bottom of piano legs as they were thought a bit indecent! And it will not be helped by the innuendo that has become such a part of comedy on TV either. I really don't see why we cannot relax about the whole thing and answer questions as and when they arise.

I am sure the farmer had no need for such a thing, living as he did in close proximity to breeding animals of all kinds; and having three sisters and two brothers would help too, siblings are very good at doling out the facts of life, even if they are wrong.

There was an amusing letter in The Times earlier this week from a man who had been at Boarding School as a child. At the end of the first term they were all gathered together in the Hall to be told the arrangements for the next day, when they were to be collected by parents. They had to have their trunks packed ready, they were to meet their parents in a certain spot, while they were waiting they could do various sports and for a limited time the swimming pool would be open. Then, with little or no warning, the master launched into a lecture about The Birds and the Bees - in a very embarrassed fashion. When he had explained it he asked if there were any questions. One little chap tentatively put up his hand. "Please sir, what time did you say the swimming pool would close?"
I would love to know your views. Should it become a subject on the curriculum - and if so at what age; should it be left to parents - what is the best way to try to ensure that our children grow up knowing about the facts of life in a sensible, common-sense way? My view is that the sexual problems here in the UK - whether they be of a criminal nature or just sexual "hang ups" within relationships - have little or nothing to do with sex education and much more to do with the general way in which children are brought up and the kind of relationship they have with their parents. What do you think?


Heather said...

I think that sex education must have been handled in totally the wrong way, as we now have more teenaged parents and unmarried mothers than ever. It's not so much sex education as moral education that is needed. I don't think teaching 5yr olds the facts of life will do any good at all, and will probably give them a whole new set of hang-ups. Children are not allowed to be children these days which I find very sad. In an ideal world, all parents should answer their childrens' questions as simply as possible when the questions are asked and not leave it all to the schools to supply this information.

ArtPropelled said...

This has always been atouchy subject as far as I can remember. I agree with Heather that questions should be answered as simply and honestly as possible when the questions are asked. Inevitably parents will be asked "what are those dogs doing?" and to say they are trying to get warm or they are dancing doesnt really help matters. Schools should supply information but basic sex education should start at home.

I had a good titter at the frills round the bottom of piano legs.

dinesh chandra said...

I think that sex education will be complsory in teehaged, It tought a manner such biology taught by our teachers, It will help every body for their married life as well as social life.


Dinesh Chandra

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Sex education should happen throughout childhood and be taught by the parents. The parents don't do the job and want to hand it over to the schools - and then complain about how it is or isn't done there. Heeeeelllooooooo.

Done lovingly, simply, openly by parents in an age-appropriate manner is a crucial gift from parent to child. To hand it over to teachers is negligent, even cowardly. The sex education at school should be secondary to what the parents have already taught.

Poet in Residence said...

Get a roll of chicken-wire and two rabbits?
No place for all that in the classroom? Mmm. OK, visit the zoo, about March or April. Those monkeys will be going at it like jack hammers.

Rachel Fox said...

We've gone for the answer all questions, talk about it all approach with our little 'un. It makes for some very entertaining conversations.

The only thing I dread getting to is the matter of sex being used as an act of violence (against an adult or a child). I'm not looking forward to some of those conversations. It's a side of human life that I wish no-one ever had to learn about.


Cathy said...

I had to giggle about The Poet mentioning the zoo. We had quite an interesting discussion one year when the girls were 7 and 5. I guess I did as my mother and answered questions as they came up and my girls ask alot of questions even still. The only thing I didn't do the same was make them look at photos of a natural birth like my mother did when I was about 10 and I decided babies were out of the question!
Here they give them instruction in body changes in 3rd grade and then sex ed in health class in 6th grade when they are 11 and 12. I nearly died when hannah came home and told me she had learned to put a condom on a banana but when her friend in scouts got pregnant later that year we had our own indepth talk. Health is a required class and they go over it every year for a semester - sex and drugs. To be honest, I was a bit more upset when the health teacher brought in a joint and a pipe to show the kids than the whole condom thing. Take away the mystery and give a dash of reality and maybe fewer kids getting in trouble is their idea and I'm ok with it.

Jane Moxey said...

I was never taught anything about the Birds and the Bees. Finally when I was about 20 something, an America Gynaecologist I had to see showed me a nifty model of the female reproductive organs and explained a few things to me. The whole menstruation business was handled by giving instructions of how to go to Matron to ask for the necessary pads! No reasons for why or what menstruation was. (that was all in the 1950's) I think the Sex Ed classes they give in American schools is OK -- it's mostly from the biological standpoint. The moral aspects of it all should be the parents jobs to enlighten their offspring. I was a tad shocked by the condom on the banana bit. (I audited the class my son took) But felt that if that would prevent unwanted pregnancies, then right on! Even armed with information, there is still a glut of unwanted pregnancies. The social pressure to lose their virginity seems to over-rule any Sex Ed factual information that's been hammered into the young people!

Bernie said...

I already wrote one on some e-mail thingy. If you don't get it I shall just say here that I agree that parents should teach their children very young.

I think from teaching some classes along that line that a lot of the girls particularly are looking for someone to love them and they feel that a baby will fill that need for them. So I think the problem isn't so much educational as the fact that the family life in our world is not the same as it was and they are lonely and need someone close.

With Viagra and all the other impotency medicines being touted on TV all the time with their salacious looks and smiles, it make of sex something that is dirty ---not a beautiful gift we have been given used the right way at the right time with the right person. Sex is fun--not evil.

Rick said...

Here in Detroit, everyone seems to know by the age of six or seven- this without having farm animals to watch. There's so much sex on television and music I don't see what the need is for sex education at all!

Thoughtful posting, and I love that photo.

Mairi said...

I was talking to my brother about an AIDs requiem at his church and he told me the disease is on the rise in young people, who seem to believe it's no big deal and can be dealth with by taking a pill. Apparently there aren't enough of those condoms on a banana lessons going on out there, and not enough young people know they're for more than preventing pregnancy. My daughter's health classes have spent a lot of time on the intricacies of drug use - how to, how not to, just in case, and perhaps the same just in case atttitude should be taken about sex education. I think Heather is absolutely right about the need for "moral education" or ethics, in the schools, but it shouldn't take place in health class.

Kim said...

If only we all lived in an ideral world the answer would be easy. Children would be informed as and when they required knowledge by loving families fullfilling their need for knowledge and gaining a grounding in ethics and morals at the same time.
Lets all flash back to the world of reality now. I think most of us are concerned about the horrors of disease, teen pregnancy etc, and want our children informed, educated and raised with good ethics and morals. We must take control as parents and spend the time to fulfill this role in their lives. Unfortunately there are still many families who do not or cannot manage this. We need to offer this education to all children in a sensitive and caring forum where they can discuss issues and raise questions and be provided with answers. The only realistic option is in a school setting. Where else could it occur? My own children had the benefit of both our families guidance and their school sex education programs and I am so pleased they did. They are now well rounded, responsible young adults in an ever more confusing world and I couldn't be prouder. What about the children who do not get these opportunities? There will always be people who abuse their own and others sexuality. There will always be people of little moral fibre and ethical responsibility, and there will always be children who need us to support them and this is surely one area where we can assist them to gain some understanding and control in their lives. Armed with knowledge and good teaching surely they will become better equiped adults. I'll hop off my soap box now, LOL!

Cloudia said...

I think you are very right!


Comfort Spiral

Elisabeth said...

I heard recently that there are also parents who seek to avoid exposing their children not simply to any idea of sex, but also to death.

A dead possum on the road, a dead cat and the children are made to look away so that they won't be exposed too soon to this terrible reality.

This to me is a case of extreme over protection that I suspect will have deleterious effects.

Death like sex is a natural part of life.

Titus said...

As the possessor of two elephant-child-like boys of insatiable curiosity, mine know the lot, functionally, at six, just the same way they know how the eyes see, the kidneys make urine and the digestive system makes, wait for it, poo. And that people die. It has not made them grow up too fast in my opinion, and is simply an area of knowledge about the human body.
However, it is far harder to talk about sexual attraction with them, because they have no concept of this, only of love. So the whole emotional area of sex will have to wait until they are older. I guess I'm with Cathy - children should go over sex and health every year at school, with the lessons developing as their understanding develops. I am also in agreement with Kim - some parents do not, or will not, or cannot, tackle this area with their children, so other agencies have a duty to educate and inform.
If we make sex some sort of dirty secret, then it is little surprise to me that people develop hang-ups and fetishes about it.
Fascinating post Weaver, generating a lot of very interesting discussion.

Elizabeth said...

What a controversial subject.
I think the barnyard approach is probaly the most sensible one.
Love the old joke about the 5 year old child his mother where he came from and her launching into a long discussion starting
"When a mummy and daddy love one another very much etc etc etc"
and he finally said
"No, Kevin was born into hospital in Leeds. Wher was I born...."

The Weaver of Grass said...

Fantastic discussion - as always you have risen to the occasion. There is nothing I can add except to say that do read all the comments - there is such a wealth of opinion in there. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I agree with you. And I just know I would have been mortified to discuss sex in a classroom!! Unfortunately, too many parents leave the topic to others. Denial is so comfortable, after all.

Golden West said...

Our schools in California are challenged enough just trying to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. We used to be at the top of the achievement scale and now are at or near the bottom.

With the availability of computers in homes and classrooms, children have access to a world of information.