As parents raising young children and pre-teens, we know that kids are naturally shying away from conversations about sex. Kids learn very early that the topic is taboo. It’s something mysterious going on between their parents, it’s where babies begin, and there are so many unknowns for them. We also know that even if their adults talk to them about sex, it may not become a normalized or easy conversation right away. In general, it may not necessarily relieve their outward awkwardness or horrified looks when faced with the topic. Perhaps at least not in the presence of adults. But what we may not see, until the later years, is how the kids whose adults have the ‘sex talk’ with them often, behave with their peers. More informed kids, who have received accurate and fact-based sex education, will have more mature conversations and make better decisions regarding sex and their relationships.
What is Sex Education?
Sex education, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the education in schools about sex. But the issue is, only 24 states require sex education between Kindergarten and 12th grade, and only nine states require to talk about consent.
In California, the Healthy Youth Act defines what sex education is for children, including teaching students about birth control, consent, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Part of this Act also includes having material available and used in lessons for LGBTQ+ people.
How to Explain Sex to Children?
Before you even start to have “that talk”, reiterate that it’s a safe space. Some children may worry that they are in trouble for asking questions about sex. Some tips on how to explain it are:
- Keep it simple- this is overwhelming, so it’s best to keep it simple
- Be prepared- there are going to be new words for them, so be ready to know how to explain things such as sperm and STDs
- Have them ask questions
- Explain more than just sex- other topics include: condoms, STDs, consent, and sexual assault
- Explain that sex should be enjoyable, it’s a normal act that should feel good for both parties
Why Sex Education Is Important
The importance of sex education goes beyond how to have sex. Sex education does teach safe sex and different methods of birth control and even talks about how to safely obtain birth control and resources that are available to them. It should also hit on the fact that sex is enjoyable and shouldn’t be painful for either party.
But sex education also talks about consent: “No means no. Yes means yes.” Consent is an essential part of safe sex and should never happen without it.
For many, when sex education begins, the student’s bodies are going through new and scary changes. An excellent way to normalize what may be happening and help them be less scared or worried about their body’s changes is to prepare them for it.
Benefits of Sex Education
Sex education is as beneficial as any class, if not more. It is a natural human experience that many students will be doing for the rest of their lives. The ample benefits include:
- Being able to normalize and talk about sex in an open and positive
- Removing any negative stigma toward sex
- Showing children that this is a safe space to talk about any issues they may have
- Knowing the importance of consent will help keep others safe
What Is An Appropriate Age to Start Sexuality Education?
Once a student hits 7th grade, most schools will start sex education, and some will reiterate it in highschool. Sex education for teens is essential because this is when they are most likely to begin either engaging in or hearing about sex and other sexual activities. So, it can never hurt to start sex conversations early. If you believe your child is having sex, then it’s better to be safe and initiate the conversation.
Unfortunately, memories of sex education are often remembered with embarrassment since these are pretty valuable conversations. These early sex ed classes may be the first time children learn about STDs and STIs and that they are more common than you think, which is why you needed to practice safe sex.
While sex education is a nerve-wracking discussion for parents, teachers, and kids, it’s an important one to have. There is no shortcutting the topics, and it’s a conversation that’s needed. Everyone needs a safe space to talk about sex and learn about the new chapter in their lives. Appropriate sex conversations should happen freely and not seen as shameful. So keep in mind, sex is not something to be ashamed of or scary, and with the right sex education, it’ll help normalize sex in the long run.