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Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Should We Be Teaching Sex Education to Four Year Olds?

I was recently asked to take part in a debate on BBC Radio Oxford about whether or not it was a good idea to introduce sex education to children as young as four, following the Department for Educations unveiling of new Sex and Health Education plans...

I can imagine your initial reaction to that; it is most probably along the lines of disgust, shock or horror. Children of that age are too young and innocent to be taught such a topic surely? It would only corrupt their little minds. The thought of my nearly five year old being taught sex ed made my face scrunch up a little at first too however, upon giving it some thought and research I very quickly changed my mind.

While I don't think for one moment that they should be taught the physical aspect I do think that there is so much more to sex education than just the mechanics and there is absolutely no harm in teaching them at a young age about love, respect, boundaries and relationships. That way they grow up with this information automatically instilled in them.

My year never had sex education in primary school, I remember the forms being sent out for parents to sign merely weeks before we were due to leave for high school but it never went ahead. It was only ever going to be a half hour video anyway, followed maybe by some awkward Q&A and would have done no good whatsoever. By that age we knew what sex was, yeah OK some of the viewpoints would have been skewed but we knew what happened and had our own perceptions of what sex and relationships were. We were also approaching an age where hormones were starting to kick in.

Some of us would have been looking forward to a giggle or watching the teachers squirm and some of us would have felt dreadfully embarrassed at the very idea of sex education. Because most parents cower away from the very idea of talking about sex with their children it becomes seen as a taboo subject or even a taboo act and that can have a really negative effect on kids growing up. They can become more curious and equally ashamed by that curiosity.

In this digital world we live in the risk of teenagers looking to porn for either guidance or self gratification is higher than ever. Sexting is rife among the young and impressionable and whether we like it or not we NEED to be educating our children more on this topic. It is as important as teaching children to read and write or ride a bike. The right information on love and sex will keep them safe.

Knowledge is power people.

Savannah is in reception at school and has already been taught the NSPCC 'pants' campaign which I feel is very important and I talk to her regularly about what areas of her body are private and also that if any behaviour from other people makes her uncomfortable she must speak out no matter who that person is. This kind of chat with young children is one of many strings to the bow of sexual education.

By being more open children will develop healthier attitudes towards same sex couples and transgender people and quash the dated attitudes previous generations hold towards these  individuals.

They will be able to recognise toxic behaviour in relationships and have the strength and self respect to walk away. They will love and respect themselves and their bodies for what they are and not fret over the unrealistic images they are bombarded with online.

They will value themselves enough to say no to requests of nude pics (or not to request them in the first place) and realise that doesn't make that person love or respect them. They will recognise sexual discrimination or harassment in the work place or day to day life and be able to call it out.

Teach girls and boys about periods and the side effects that come with it as well as health concerns that can hinder many women. Teach girls and boys about how pregnancy changes a womans body in all the weird and wonderful ways and what a normal post natal body looks like.

Whether we accept it or not sex is a huge part of life. If we sweep sex talk under the carpet or tell children they are too young to ask certain questions and even tell them off for asking we make them feel ashamed for their natural, healthy curiosity.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree or think I'm nuts? I would love to know!

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Hi there, I’m Marina – a girl love fashion and love to express herself with her own sense of style.

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