Sex education for the youth is designed to help them gain the information, skills, and motivation to make healthy decisions about sex.

No more myths; schools and families alike need to teach children about the importance of sexual education. Parents might benefit from the advice of experts who explain the benefits of starting early.

Many parents don’t look forward to helping their children with sex education. It’s difficult for parents to navigate these conversations with their children when they rely on memories of their own awkward or restricted experiences in middle or high school. But it’s essential to do so.

Thirty-nine states (plus the District of Columbia) mandate schools to teach sex education in any way at all. Only 18 states mandate that the information being offered is medically accurate. Historically, sex education has not been inclusive of LGBTQ+ students. Doctors have created a new category of sex education videos on TikTok to fill this knowledge vacuum to answer kids’ inquiries.

In May, the New York Post published an article about Dalton School in New York City, which sparked a controversy regarding modern sexual education. The essay’s author was cautious in his criticism of Justine Fonte’s job as a health educator. Furthermore, it misrepresented the material she shared with her young students, which was in reality in line with widely accepted national standards for comprehensive sex education. Adults who are knowledgeable about best practices in sexuality education may support their children’s healthy relationships of all types as they grow.

Starting with the Basics

“Sex ed” is best referred to as “sexual education” in early elementary school. Gendered, anatomical, and bodily functions are only a few examples of the many aspects under this umbrella word. The idea is to begin teaching toddlers how to communicate their desires and needs with others. Similar to other school courses, sexuality education is more complex as children get older.

Fonte incorporated an animated animation into her teaching to show students exactly what “private parts” are and what they do. The non-profit AMAZE, a branch of Advocates for Youth, developed it. It is typical for young children to touch their genitals because it makes them feel good, and the characters in this film are no exception. While acknowledging this to the child, the adult character reminds them it’s inappropriate to do so publicly.

The proper names for a child’s genitalia should be taught as soon as possible. Knowledge of what areas of the body are public and private and the authority they have to select who can and cannot touch them is essential for gaining consent in all sorts of relationships, including romantic ones in the future. It also aids in the prevention of sexual abuse of children.

This is a case where innocence does not protect children but rather increases their vulnerability to danger. Improperly naming your child may give them the false impression that they’re evil. School-age children should be involved in discussions about their bodies, consent, and language (sex ed).

Teaching Consent

Gender identity and consent can be easier for children to grasp than for adults. For instance, children are usually taught the need of asking for permission before taking something, such as waiting their turn, avoiding hitting, or biting. In many classic children’s games, the concept of consent is introduced by demanding that players ask for permission to progress. 

These discussions naturally lead to the application of these ideas to relationships with friends and family members. Respect for others and asking for permission before doing, make it much easier to translate when it comes to sexual relations when we maintain this attitude.

A higher awareness of the necessity of helping children in making decisions about who to display physical affection to has emerged during the past few years. This is especially relevant over the holidays, when children may feel forced to give a hug or kiss to a long-lost family. When a parent enforces this boundary with well-intentioned relatives who are eager to see their children, it sends a constant message that kids’ bodies are their own, at all times.

Parental Anxiety and Distress

Initially, parents may be apprehensive about some of the candor in these chats, especially if they weren’t exposed to it as a child. While teaching their children in the midst of their own discomfort, adults must be open to learning and unlearning aspects of sexuality education.

Over the past three decades, public health research has demonstrated the reverse: addressing sexual health does not lead to promiscuity in caregivers. Strictly “abstinence-only” instruction in sexual health and relationships leaves children uninformed.

Is there a new problem? Black females are assumed to be more knowledgeable about sex and adult concepts. Kids are assumed to already know about sex. Thus they don’t require as much protection, instruction, or nurturing because of this presumption. To protect kids from the pressures of “adultification,” caregivers may avoid providing them with truthful knowledge regarding sexual health.

Caregivers don’t have to know everything. Kids are ultimately responsible for reinforcing the things they’ve learned in school. We get to reinforce true knowledge, and they get to decide how it works out for them in their own way.

Related article: Helping Children Develop Emotional Intelligence in Small Steps