At What Age Should Sex Ed Start?

Sat, 11/23/2013 - 11:42
Submitted by Carlin Ross

 It starts as soon as they're born.


Tue, 10/14/2014 - 04:30
Jeffrey65802 (not verified)

"We want you to tell us the answer."

"The answer to what?"

"Life. The universe. Everything!"


- "The HItchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

Conventional wisdom would probably say before kids hit puberty, lack of sex hormone production in their bodies means they aren't yet 'sexual beings.' Yet I vividly recall masturbating over my pj's to climax from whatever age I was then, and then by the time I was 10 'naked body rubbing' and kissing with my cousin (also 10.)

I've seen articles recently about new programs teaching 'sex ed' to 5 year-olds. I dunno what a 5 year-old needs to know beyond some basic anatomy and that rubbing themselves is fine like. But I think it's going to wind up pretty much academic in any event. Kids are being arrested, suspended, and expelled for doing things every kid in every culture does growing up like touching, kissing, and experimenting with 'sex play' behaviours, albeit at school. So I'd worry if we teach anything resembling sex ed, we're going to be missing the mroe important aspect - appropriateness. "Yes little Billy, rubbing your penis feels good and is perfectly normal and good. Just don't do it at school." - "Huh, but you just said it was normal and good!" Therein lying the problem.

At what age should sex ed start?

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 12:37

Sex Ed should be given long before it's needed.

We had a policy of answering the questions as they were posed having first checked we understood exactly what was being asked and sometimes, why. When they ask where they come from, sometimes they just mean where they were born (the hospital/home/London/NY) rather than the whole conception story. When I was asked who should be allowed to touch their genitals, driving along to piano lessons, I wanted to know why before answering (because of a school sex ed class aged 9).

My girls were very interested in where babies came from since they were surrounded with friends about to have new siblings for most of their pre-school years. There is a lovely Babette Cole book "Mummy never told me" which worked for us in terms of telling the facts in a sex positive fashion. They understood the basic concepts around sperm, eggs and PIV sex before they went to school.

Since they then wanted to know why they didn't have another sibling, the idea of basic contraception was mentioned; all before 5 years old so all pre embarrassment or yuck-factor.

At primary school they were told about appropriate and innapropriate touching (who touches what on your body/public versus private behaviour) fairly early on, certainly by the age of 9. Apparently it works to identify child abuse at home. I was quite glad we'd covered the basic stuff beforehand, including some positive sex info before they got to the negative.

In the final year at primary school (aged 11) they had three videas to watch and discuss, working through the biology, basic PIV sex followed by a woman giving birth. They'd also discussed basic puberty (menstruation, physical growth spurts, body hair & hormones) which was only practical given how many young girls start their periods before 12 these days.

Their secondary schools covered standard contraception, STDs and basic gender orientation and sexuality (homo/hetero/trans) by 13 years of age. They'd had HPV vaccinations as part of the school programmes at around that age as well so the conversation about STDs was framed in that context.

Aged 16 & 14 they're now able to access websites like this all on their own, though as is often the case, the informed kids of liberal parents are much more likely to have sex later and more likely for it to be safe, protected sex.