Sexual education in schools


#1

Hi,

I’m currently in teachers college and studying to be a primary/junior school teacher. It is something I take seriously and I don’t want to teach children anything contrary to our faith.

I am taking the religion education class and today we started the Family Life unit. (I live in Canada and there’s a unified curriculum in my province about this). According to this curriculum, children should be taught in accordance with Church doctrines (regarding homosexuality, contraception, abortion, etc). One thing I noticed is that in this curriculum they are introduced to learning about intercourse in grade 4. Also they are introduced to anatomy and (rather graphic?) terminology. Apparently there was/is some debate about this… and not all parents are happy with this part of it, although most don’t see a problem. Family Life curriculum has been approved by the Bishops.

Here is what I am wondering… would you say it is proper to teach children such detailed information about sex at a young age? the rationale behind this is to teach them the right information, before they learn the wrong things from their peers or the media. I certainly think that’s a good point, and in fact this helps to protect children in a way. However in another way, I feel sort of uncomfortable with it all… is so much knowledge about sexuality at a young age a way to encourage chastity?

I’'m interested in your thoughts… I just feel there’s a big responsibility on teachers to teach the right things and someday I would have to answer to God for how I taught children. I want to be a positive influence in their lives and encourage them in faith. Do you think that teaching children all this information at a young age would harm their purity? (I’m not saying they would start sinning, rather would it harm the purity and innocence of their hearts at that point.)

thank you :slight_smile:


#2

Considering I knew where babies came from at 5 and so did all the other 5 year olds,no, I don't think it os too young, Chances are most kids will have heard the street version by the time they are in grade 4.

As for graphic description, if the words used to define the body parts are the same as the ones used in a medical dictionary,(not slang), then I think it is positive

The only thing that would upset me is if the class was co-ed

CM


#3

It is rather a darned-if-you-do, darned-if-you-don't situation...

Yes, using the terminology and descriptions does affect their modesty. The longer we can shelter our kids from knowing too much, too soon, the better it is for them. but...

On the other hand, with the way society is today, it's likely that they will hear about sex in crude and graphic terminology from their friends, on TV, in movies, etc. so at least if parents teach them the right material, they will know the truth. Unfortunately it is very difficult to keep kids from being affected by the morally defective sexually-charged atmosphere all around them...I had to talk to my 7th grader about homosexuality when one of the middle-school coaches was arrested for child molestation...It was a rather horrible time...Not how I wanted to have that discussion, having to talk about pedophilia as well. Stuff happens. I don't know exactly how to teach kids this important subject without affecting their innocence at least a little. You will be a good role model, though, if you are allowed to stress that their bodies are a gift from God and that their sexuality is a treasure to be unwrapped by their future spouse, no one else.

Do they offer parents an opt-out option if they don't want the school to teach that material to their child? Is the class taught to each gender separately? That is critical - at least give kids privacy with such intimate details of their own bodies.


#4

[quote="Monica4316, post:1, topic:228550"]
would you say it is proper to teach children such detailed information about sex at a young age?

[/quote]

Absolutely not.

[quote="Monica4316, post:1, topic:228550"]
is so much knowledge about sexuality at a young age a way to encourage chastity?

[/quote]

No.

[quote="Monica4316, post:1, topic:228550"]
I''m interested in your thoughts... I just feel there's a big responsibility on teachers to teach the right things and someday I would have to answer to God for how I taught children. I want to be a positive influence in their lives and encourage them in faith. Do you think that teaching children all this information at a young age would harm their purity? (I'm not saying they would start sinning, rather would it harm the purity and innocence of their hearts at that point.)

thank you :)

[/quote]

I suggest you use The Truth And Meaning Of Human Sexuality from the Pontifical Council For The Family as your guide.

vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_08121995_human-sexuality_en.html


#5

A lot of girls start their periods in 5th grade (or even younger). I did (I'm 53 now).

So yes, kids, especially girls, need to be educated.


#6

[quote="Monica4316, post:1, topic:228550"]
Also they are introduced to anatomy and (rather graphic?) terminology.

[/quote]

What do you mean by "graphic"? By using the medically correct terms for parts? If so, it is absolutely fine! My 3 year old boys knew they had penises, and not "wangers" or any other equally silly nicknames. They learned all the proper terms. For both sexes. They knew that Auntie nursed using her breasts, that babies were born via vaginas, and that their amusing little accessories were called testicles!

As far as intercourse, are they learning that sperm exits penis and meets egg in woman? Or are they learning more specific things? The former is fine.


#7

#8

Learning an introduction to it in grade 4 doesn't seem questionable to me, in and of itself. I went to a Catholic school, and we were all taught in 1st grade how boys' and girls' bodies differed from one another. Around 4th grade, the class was split into two groups (boys and girls) and we did a more in depth look at things. Girls were taught about menstruation. We learned all the parts of the female reproductive system, with their proper names. We were also taught how the male reproductive system works. And we knew that sperm + egg = baby, but we didn't go into particulars past that. In sixth grade, they told us what actually happened during intercourse. That was when the average girl usually started her period around 6th grade... nowadays they're starting earlier, if I'm not mistaken. What do you mean by graphic? If it's like an anatomy book, with proper names for each body part, I don't see a problem with it. I don't think pictures should be included, but drawings can be useful. (We had a drawing so we could see where everything fit within the abdominal cavity when I learned it.)

There is definitely a fine line to walk, though. We don't want to destroy children's innocence by teaching them all this stuff too early. On the other hand, we don't want them learning the wrong things by learning from peers or the media. Weighing one against the other, I feel that it's better to explain things to kids the right way, before they get "what sex is all about" from the secular world. If we wait too long to teach kids about sex, we are setting them up for failure, because they will not know anything different than what their peers and the media tell them.

I think it's important that genders be separated if there is going to be that in depth of a discussion about it. I remember all the girls in my class being curious and embarrassed at the same time about it--we wanted to ask questions but there is NO WAY we would've asked had there been boys around.


#9

thanks for the replies!

[quote="Catholic90, post:6, topic:228550"]
What do you mean by "graphic"? By using the medically correct terms for parts? If so, it is absolutely fine! My 3 year old boys knew they had penises, and not "wangers" or any other equally silly nicknames. They learned all the proper terms. For both sexes. They knew that Auntie nursed using her breasts, that babies were born via vaginas, and that their amusing little accessories were called testicles!

As far as intercourse, are they learning that sperm exits penis and meets egg in woman? Or are they learning more specific things? The former is fine.

[/quote]

yes that is what I mean.. the medical terms


#10

As both an educator (granted I teach college) and as a parent, I think unequivocally that teaching a 4th grader explicit terms and verbiage is uncalled for. Quite frankly I don't think it has anything to do with Catholic Faith or doctrine. I think it is more so about protecting a child's innocence. Now, don't get me wrong. I teach my children very early about the good touches/bad touches, using proper terminology even as early as potty learning (ie it's a penis not a pee-pee or something). But it is a need to know basis. I don't beleive 4th graders NEED TO KNOW the in's and out's of sex (no pun intended). When a situation presents itself, I give limited/age appropriate information. For example, my oldest was 7 when my middle child was born. He was very curious as to the how's and why's of delivering a baby. Do you think I told him about penis in vagina so sperm can meet egg? Nope. Sure didn't. Why? It's too complicated an issue. It's my job to protect their innocence. They have their whole adult life to learn about it -- *which *I will teach them, age appropriately. **

Part of the reason we go there on ANY level is b/c the public schools HAVE to as a matter of necessity -- it's the "if they don't get it in school, they will never get the education of it at all" ideology. It's reality that so many parents don't educate their children appropriately in this subject matter (whether they are teaching them the technical aspects, spiritual aspects or both). The point is that MANY kids in public high school don't really understand pregnancy, STDs, and the general emotional toll a sexually active relationship can have on a teen... Why? They aren't taught. So the schools do what they can, when they can, with what they have.


#11

[quote="cmscms, post:2, topic:228550"]
Considering I knew where babies came from at 5 and so did all the other 5 year olds,no, I don't think it os too young, ** Chances are most kids will have heard the street version by the time they are in grade 4.**

As for graphic description, if the words used to define the body parts are the same as the ones used in a medical dictionary,(not slang), then I think it is positive

The only thing that would upset me is if the class was co-ed

CM

[/quote]

Though I'm sure that there are some that do, none of my sons' 7yo and 5yo friends do NOT have the first clue.

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:3, topic:228550"]
It is rather a darned-if-you-do, darned-if-you-don't situation...
**
Yes, using the terminology and descriptions does affect their modesty. The longer we can shelter our kids from knowing too much, too soon, the better it is for them. but...**

On the other hand, with the way society is today, it's likely that they will hear about sex in crude and graphic terminology from their friends, on TV, in movies, etc. so at least if parents teach them the right material, they will know the truth. Unfortunately it is very difficult to keep kids from being affected by the morally defective sexually-charged atmosphere all around them...I had to talk to my 7th grader about homosexuality when one of the middle-school coaches was arrested for child molestation...It was a rather horrible time...Not how I wanted to have that discussion, having to talk about pedophilia as well. Stuff happens. I don't know exactly how to teach kids this important subject without affecting their innocence at least a little. You will be a good role model, though, if you are allowed to stress that their bodies are a gift from God and that their sexuality is a treasure to be unwrapped by their future spouse, no one else.

Do they offer parents an opt-out option if they don't want the school to teach that material to their child? Is the class taught to each gender separately? That is critical - at least give kids privacy with such intimate details of their own bodies.

[/quote]

1st bolded -- totally agree!!!

2nd bolded -- I completely disagree. No we can not shelter them from EVERY.single thing out there however they ARE teaching moments. When something is seen or heard, we can use that as a chance to teach our kids what we beleive. However, we should try to shield them as much as possible...

[quote="Cat, post:5, topic:228550"]
A lot of girls start their periods in 5th grade (or even younger). I did (I'm 53 now).

So yes, kids, especially girls, need to be educated.

[/quote]

But by who? I don't want anybody initially teaching my children. I, do, however want them to reinforce what I believe.

I must add -- I'm a pretty bold parent. Sex talks and that subject matter do NOT frighten me nor is it a topic that I am uncomfortable talking about. To include the constant conversations I have with my high schooler.


#12

[quote="Anna1345, post:10, topic:228550"]
He was very curious as to the how's and why's of delivering a baby. Do you think I told him about penis in vagina so sperm can meet egg? Nope. Sure didn't. Why? It's too complicated an issue. It's my job to protect their innocence. They have their whole adult life to learn about it -- *which *I will teach them, age appropriately. **

.

[/quote]

What do you tell them when they ask HOW the sperm meets the egg?

Some kids are full of questions. They ask. My oldest did. I told him. My oldest knew in first grade because he asked. He and his brothers talked. So then younger brothers knew. I'm sure they told some friends. Then they knew. YOU may not have told your 7 year old, but my 7 year old knew and quite possibly told his friends!

Learning proper terminology is FACT, not graphic or inappropriate.

Teaching chastity and abstinence is preferable and preferred. Teaching ignorance is not smart. One can be chaste and abstinent and not ignorant.


#13

If they ask, I will tell, but that information is not freely given randomly. I did tell my oldest when he asked in 5th grade. My middle child recently asked me where babies were from and I told him "once God chooses us to be parents, the baby grow in an organ in the mom's body" (we had recently been talking about how hearts, brains, lungs, etc were all different organs of the body). He was perfectly happy with that answer. However I my oldest at that age would have asked more questions and my youngest at that age would ask more questions too. It hink part of it is knowing your child and knowing what level they are at in relation to understanding and inquiry.


#14

[quote="Catholic90, post:12, topic:228550"]
What do you tell them when they ask HOW the sperm meets the egg?

Some kids are full of questions. They ask. My oldest did. I told him. My oldest knew in first grade because he asked. He and his brothers talked. So then younger brothers knew. I'm sure they told some friends. Then they knew. YOU may not have told your 7 year old, but my 7 year old knew and quite possibly told his friends!

Learning proper terminology is FACT, not graphic or inappropriate.

Teaching chastity and abstinence is preferable and preferred. Teaching ignorance is not smart. One can be chaste and abstinent and not ignorant.

[/quote]

I completely 100% agree with that. And this is my high schooler. He knows, now, all the ins and outs. We completely teach him everything and answer any question he has. We also teach about emotional and spiritual responsibility along with physical responsibility. For example, we don't just teach that sex leads to pregnancy and STDS, we teach him how it can lead to a relationship that he is not emotionally ready for. WE explained to him recently about the pickings and choosing of girls he would consider good "girlfriends" (which is kind of just a label as he doesn't go on "dates"). Anyway we talked about.. okay let's say you did goof up and she DID get pregnant. What would you do if she out and out said "I'm just gonna have an abortion"? It was something he had never even thought about before. SO I think teaching about sex means teaching about ALL of everything encompasses the act itself -- feelings, emotions, consequences, etc.

However I also think that there needs to be a protection and kind of a shielding of younger kids. When we teach it is always medically/scientifically accurate but it is the bare bones minimum until they are older.


#15

I think what is necessary for all of these teaching moments is CONTEXT, and that is difficult to do in a school, perhaps even a private religious school. This is why I objected to the school teaching my kids (who are now 19 and 17) about sex in any way. I wanted to give my sons the proper CONTEXT to go along with the information. What I mean is that as we are teaching them about their bodies, we are talking about how their bodies are treasures from God, that no one should touch them, that their parts may feel good when touched but that touching themselves is NOT something beneficial or recreational, etc. We Catholics have a lot MORE to teach our kids than even some Protestant parents who may agree with the larger culture that masturbation is harmless, let alone sex with contraception! We don't dare abdicate the responsibility at the risk of having our kids absorb the lessons that are antithetical to our faith.

I don't think I did this as well as I wanted to. I told my sons early on that they could talk to me about anything, and I meant it. Yet once they started growing up and becoming more hormonal/turning into men, they didn't necessarily feel comfortable talking to me about their urges, etc. And their dad would NOT talk to them, no way, at all. All I can say is that a mom, THIS mom, could not do it all, and I hope that all the dads on this forum understand that they have to be there for their sons and daughters to help them stay pure. With the sons, the dads can talk about their own struggles; with the daughters, they need to treat her so well and teach her to love herself and love God enough to keep away from a boy who would not honor her and cherish her.

I never sat my sons down for "The Big Talk." I just did it as the subjects came up, as they were curious, and unfortunately, as bad things happened like a molester in my older son's middle school. That's a hard talk to have. Thank God my son wasn't one of the victims but I was terrified until I talked to him.

I was surprised at how many parents were totally fine with the middle school teaching their sons and daughters about sex! This was a private religious middle school so I guess they felt there would be no problems but they weren't going to be there listening so how could they guarantee that the viewpoint they believe in would be the one taught? There's no rebuttal when you aren't even there!!


#16

I know you're dealing with a private school issue but this reminds me of the thousands of dilemmas public school teachers deal with. Because morality (i.e. the Bible) is no longer allowed in schools, the thing to do is teach kids the basic biology and leave it at that. Anything else is a moral judgment (and, of course schools can't teach that because of separation of church and state).

It is the parents' responsibility to instill morality regarding sex and marriage. If the parents fail, too bad for the kid. Society will simply be that much weaker and continue to crumble, which explains our current socioeconomic climate.

You can't have it both ways. Either you can teach morality as we used to before circa 1920, or you don't teach it at all.

Back to your situation: As for age appropriateness, I would let the parents handle it. Teach it when the kids start learning about human biology. Kids will have already joked and cursed about sex on the playground long before the official curriculum gets around to it. Don't worry about it as a teacher. The curriculum you were assigned won't be groundbreaking to these kids or affect their "purity".


#17

[quote="Anna1345, post:13, topic:228550"]
If they ask, I will tell, but that information is not freely given randomly. I did tell my oldest when he asked in 5th grade. My middle child recently asked me where babies were from and I told him "once God chooses us to be parents, the baby grow in an organ in the mom's body" (we had recently been talking about how hearts, brains, lungs, etc were all different organs of the body). He was perfectly happy with that answer. However I my oldest at that age would have asked more questions and my youngest at that age would ask more questions too. It hink part of it is knowing your child and knowing what level they are at in relation to understanding and inquiry.

[/quote]

What if they hadn't asked? Thank goodness I had it all straightened out in class, because Mom never told me anything! She didn't leave books laying around either, like they suggest now, and we didn't have the internet. I would never have asked about sex at that age- and never did. It's funny to me at this point, but for awhile I was afraid sitting next to a boy could cause pregnancy. So, yes, my vote is for mandatory sex-ed, if only for the benefit of the painfully shy. :blush:


#18

This reminds me of why I am glad that I learned sex ed in 5th grade, because soon after I ended up getting my period:eek: Sorry if that was TMI, but if I had not learned that in school, I would have ended up being a complete and frightened mess. My parents never taught me anything about this.

Unfortunately we live in an age where many parents won't teach their children these things out of fear. What is wrong with addressing body parts using medical terms? That doesn't mean it's graphic, or distasteful. That's just the way things are. I have noticed that shame and embarrassment get attached when "pet words" are used to describe private areas, and young kids start to associate that and think that things are a joke. When I used to work with a boy when he was about 7, he giggled about something he saw or heard and said "boobies." His mother corrected him and said "no, they're called breasts and that's not something to make fun of. That's a woman's private area." Her son quickly understood that using the proper term also came with using respect.

Children also need to be taught that their private areas are theirs, and knowing the proper terms gives them ownership. Unfortunately many kids get sexually molested and have no idea of what is going on. Schools need to be cognizant of this, along with parents first and foremost. I would rather that parents teach these things first, and if they want to opt their kids out, fine. But guess what folks-- KIDS TALK!


#19

[quote="amerrychase, post:17, topic:228550"]
What if they hadn't asked? Thank goodness I had it all straightened out in class, because Mom never told me anything! She didn't leave books laying around either, like they suggest now, and we didn't have the internet. I would never have asked about sex at that age- and never did. It's funny to me at this point, but for awhile I was afraid sitting next to a boy could cause pregnancy. So, yes, my vote is for mandatory sex-ed, if only for the benefit of the painfully shy. :blush:

[/quote]

If they didn't bring it up, I would find appropriate ways to work it into a conversation. For example, my 4 yo was "exploring" in the bath tub. He didn't ask but I realized in that moment it was time for the "good touches, bad touches" talk. There are ALWAYS times when we, as parents, realize there are things that occur, when the child doesn't ask, that can open the door to conversations -- TV commercials, THings said on the radio, things we hear people say, etc etc


#20

Some girls start their period as young as 8 years old these days. They need the information which they are not mature enough to understand...what a quandary. Their bodies are maturing WAY too early for them to grasp what is happening and what can happen to them.

When I was growing up most girls started their period at 12 or 13. There's a world of difference between sex education at 8 and at 13. And yet...you can't NOT tell a girl what is going on in her body.


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