Sexual Education for Children
Should children know more at a younger age?
So my summer blogging is going to be all about health. Mental health, my personal journey plus education, sexual health, abuse, and all the taboo subjects that Personal development in schools, don't like talking out.
So this is the first instalment of my #SummerBloggin project.
So recently my partner and I have been discussing our future and whether we want children, should we adopt because of my genes being a bit rubbish etc.
One thing that came up for us was our approaches to teaching our children about their sexuality, their bodies and how best to protect them. I warn you now there are some strong opinions in this and you may or may not agree with them. I'm up for debate but please don't tell me that I have raised the two children I already have wrong or anything as I feel this is a personal choice and subject and we all have our own views and reasons.
Anyway I shall continue...
I am a very liberal person, I grew up with no family, no structure, no support and the most I knew about my body or sex was through abuse and the fact that if I told anyone or spoke about it, I would get told off. Now I have enveloped my own identity, a sense of who I am and I am alert to dangers that are out there.
I have one approach and this doesn't matter if I have a boy or girl for my next child, the approach would remain the same. I believe the key to this topic and keeping a child safe is trust and openness. Not open as in tell your child if you have a kinky fetish... that's wrong but open so they can feel free to ask about their bodies, tell you if something is wrong and ultimately if they feel someone has taken advantage.
0-5 years old So by the time my child is starting school, preferably nursery they will know the PANTS Rule...
I will explain the PANTS rule but for the video and more info visit the NSPCC site below:
NSPCC PANTS RULE
So PANTS is an anagram:
P- Privates are private
A child should know that no one has the right to see, touch or go near their privates. By this point they're likely to be toilet trained and self caring. If not as a parent ensure there is a member of staff to help your child and make sure that the child knows that adult is only there to help them after the toilet. Even a doctor should not be allowed near them without a parent there.
A- Always remember your body belongs to you
In my eyes a child has as much right to feel safe and comfortable in their body as anyone else. They shouldn't be embarrassed or forced to show their body if they're not comfortable.
N- No means No
If someone tries to touch my child and they say no, they mean no. It's about consent, just because they're young doesn't mean they should be forced into anything they don't like. (Eating vegetables and going to bed is not included. This is purely for safety)
T- Talk about secrets that upset you
This is important and I feel that this links to openness. A child should be comfortable talking to a responsible adult (teacher, doctor, parent, police) about things they don't like. Ensuring they know these people are there to talk to means if it is a family member being abusive they have multiple outlets.
S- Speak up
This works for both adults and a child. If a child is abused they need to be able to tell you and the adult should immediately speak to child protection or police.
Ensuring my children know this by the time they start school will mean they can identify if something isn't right and reduce the risk of abuse, Neglect or grooming.
5-10 years old Through my work, training and past this is the most vulnerable age for a child. Their bodies are changing and children are growing up quicker and maturing younger but the world isn't any safer.
My eldest daughter is nearly 8 years old and she knows everything to do with her body.
She knows about periods (I started around 8 so although she may not start until late, I feel it's important she knows what is happening to her body).
She knows about pregnancy and how her body works. They also learn this in school around this age so she has an advantage.
She knows about internet safety. Internet usage is monitored, she doesn't go on computers alone but she knows not to go on any websites she hasn't asked to go on and not to talk to strangers online or send any pictures of herself clothes or unclothed.
By the time she is 10/11 and preparing to start secondary school she will know about porn and how to avoid it and that although she may get pressured into looking it up or she might be interested that it is for adults only.
She will also know about relationships, sex and abuse.
The worst of my childhood abuse happened around this age and I had no one to talk to and didn't know it was wrong until I reached 13 in a sex Ed class. When I say she will know about it I don't mean the ins and outs, I mean looking for signs, what's right and wrong and how to look after her body.
This would be taught alongside basic life skills, washing properly, responsibility, chores, money. Things to set her up for life but in a safe environment so she isn't ashamed of these things and knows she can talk to me if anything is wrong.
Again going back to being open with your child. This is the same for boys although the additional talk about urges would be thrown in there, one for the other half to do.
11-15 years old This age is always difficult as maturities and different for every child. I know people my age who were immature, still laughing at the word 'fart' at this age but then there were girls pregnant at this age too.
It's a trial and error stage and one no parent can get perfect. My rule would be no sexual activity at all until 16 like the law states but let's be realistic. If you have two kids at a school age 14/15, they've been in a relationship 6 months and only held hands and kissed, chances are they're thinking of doing more.
Advise them against it by all means but we all know that won't stop them. The second my daughter gets in a relationship, she's getting the talk about STIs, safe sex and going straight to the clinic for protection. My house will also be fully stocked with condoms.
I grew up hating sex so it wasn't an issue for me to avoid it but I know my other half hit 13/14 and was girl and guy mad (being bi not discriminating). Although as a parent we have to be strict and concerned in this situation it would be monitored and ultimately your child's safety is best. Locking them away will only cut off that trust and ultimately they will find a way out.
Speaking with my other half he agreed with this but we came up with our own scale for the tricky teen years.
11-13 any mention of sex we cut it off, try to explain what's right and wrong and if they're in a relationship make the other parent aware.
Late 13-14 contraception, the talk with their parents as well, and the other parent knows, again advise them to refrain but make sure not to punish as its natural for urges especially in today's sexualised society.
15 if both parties are 15, talk to both together about their relationship, safety and make sure they know the boundaries but more importantly teach them about pressure and healthy relationships.
16+ they're consent age. Support them, if their behaviour concerns you talk to them, you're still a parent not a friend. Make sure they're safe.
If for whatever reason you find out that your 13 year old is dating an 16+ year old. This is child protection. Same for any age under 12 with anyone 13+ and should be treated with caution and social services support.
Important Note: Reminded by Tara.
Anyone over 13 having sexual relationships with anyone under 13 will be prosecuted as law states anyone under 13 does not understand terms of consent fully.
Additionally anyone 13-15 can still be prosecuted if parents or partner Perdue it but this is assessed on an individual basis.
So that's how I think sexual health should be approached with children and teens. With education teaching them the basics of their bodies, relationships and sexual health such as STIs but leaving the details to families and not other school children.Tara
The worst part of my sex Ed was being put in a group of boys and told to write everything we knew about sex on a piece of a paper. Our sheet was covered in sex positions and that was pretty much it. I felt ashamed and scared and it shouldn't be that way.
Like I said before this is a strong opinionated piece and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.