Children and Sexuality

by Jason Stotts

We’ve talked about children and sexuality several times on the podcast (episodes #23, #24, & #25). What we haven’t talked much about is better options for educating children about sexuality. Luckily, PBS (of all places) just recently published a really good article called “The Case for Starting Sex Education in Kindergarten.” In it, they show some very good alternatives to our nonsensical ignorance-only education (“abstinence education”). I recommend taking a minute and reading the article, it’s worth it.

You’ll never hear an explicit reference to sex in a kindergarten class.In fact, the term for what’s being taught here is sexuality education rather than sex education. That’s because the goal is bigger than that, says Ineke van der Vlugt, an expert on youth sexual development for Rutgers WPF, the Dutch sexuality research institute behind the curriculum. It’s about having open, honest conversations about love and relationships.

By law, all primary school students in the Netherlands must receive some form of sexuality education. The system allows for flexibility in how it’s taught. But it must address certain core principles — among them, sexual diversity and sexual assertiveness. That means encouraging respect for all sexual preferences and helping students develop skills to protect against sexual coercion, intimidation and abuse. The underlying principle is straightforward: Sexual development is a normal process that all young people experience, and they have the right to frank, trustworthy information on the subject.

“There were societal concerns that sexualization in the media could be having a negative impact on kids,” van der Vlugt said. “We wanted to show that sexuality also has to do with respect, intimacy, and safety.” (LINK)

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