Stephen A. Peterson
Whether children and teenagers should be informed about human sexuality and reproductive functioning through some form of sex education is generally not an issue in 2004. The debate involves who, when and how this subject is to be conveyed to the young. Few professionals would disagree that teaching children regarding their sexual functioning and about human reproduction is and should be a function of a child’s parents/caregiver—not the school, not even the church. Yet many of these same professionals, question parental competence to reasonably and effectively inform their children and teens regarding human sexuality. Yet many parents/caregivers, in truth, are ideally equipped by experience, moral conviction and by training to educate their children regarding this most important subject. Some parents, on the other hand, because of their perceived inadequacies predominantly based on fears, their discomfort with the subject, when and how to explain “what” to their daughters and sons. It is the hope of this paper that parents/caregivers will be empowered to teach and inform their child or children with respect to their sexualness. If the parents or concerned caregivers do not, a pernicious and overtly hedonistic and sexualized society led by an amoral educational system and immoral institutions will with devastating results.
Many parents and caregivers often ask why they should be responsible for the teaching of human sexuality to their child. Some want to know why do any thing at all. Yet providing a child with an explanation of their sexuality that comes from someone they know and trust will:
1. provide her or him a moral base absent from most school based programs.
2. give the parent or caregiver an opportunity to explain God’s purpose for human sexuality and human sexual expression.
3. build trust between the child and her or his parent/caregiver.
4. build a line of interaction between parent/caregiver and child.
5. provide the child with a positive and credible source of information regarding human sexuality and sexual expression.
In spite of all that has been discussed, perhaps the most important and vital
hurdle that must be dealt with and overcame is that of the parent/caregiver. Parents/caregivers must overcome any fears and misgivings about bring up the subject of human sexuality. The parent/caregiver must become comfortable and confident in themselves that they can discuss sexuality with their child. The first step in achieving this is to become informed regarding the subject of human sexuality. There are excellent source materials that parents/caregivers may utilize as resources to educate themselves
Secondly, parents or caregivers must convey to their daughters and sons verbally and non-verbally that human sexuality and its expression are NOT filthy, dirty or disgusting. It is to be explained that sex is a gift from a loving, good and concerned God that is to be expressed only within the context of a marriage between one man and one woman. Any other expression under any other condition is unacceptable to God in spite of what some will say and what they may see in the print or visual media. The conveyance of this information should be done according to the child developmental level generally between 8 and 10 years of age. But parental patience, guidance and prayer are the initial stages in this process that children will understand in time if taught.
Children and young people are curious, observant and will ask their parents/caregivers questions about human reproduction and human sexuality. Sexual stimulation, sexual discovery and curiosity regarding sexual functioning are generally the stages young children proceed through. Sexual stimulation often occurs as early as age 1 or 2 years of age. Self-stimulation usually occurs with the manipulation of their genitals without a sense of what the child has done. They learn that doing this feel comforting and good. This action does not insinuate any deviant behavior or that the child is performing a perverted act in any way. A child’s parents’/caregivers’ response to the handling and stimulation of their genitals is often formed by the expression on their parents’ face and their gesture will convey the parents’ attitude to tell the child more than their words.
Around age 2 or 3 years of age, children generally discover that boys and girls possess different sex organs. Parents/caregivers will be faced with having to explain why a boy’s or girl’s sex organ differs from the one they possess. At about age 3, curiosity occurs when a child asks where babies come from. It is enough to answer such a question with: “They grow inside a mommy’s body in a special place built especially for them.” In the previous response and the one before it, straight forward answers using the scientific names (penis or vagina) when describing human genitalia will generally satisfy a child at this age. If a child’s questions are answered adequately, he/she will return, in confidence, as a child grows older when more exact information is wanted and required. The use of euphemisms and street terms do nothing more than degrade the beauty and wholesomeness of human sexuality and its expression. Should a parent/caregiver use them, this message will be conveyed to the child as such even though it is not intended.
Sex questions of children may, at times, appear frivolous, taxing to a parent’s/caregiver’s intelligence, or shocking. Sex for a young child is not charged with emotion or shame. A parent/caregiver who feels shame about human sexuality will more than likely give information in such a way that the child will sense an embarrassment that is not intended or understood by the child. For some parents, explaining sexuality and sexual expression can be so emotionally charged that useful and informative information is lost. Therefore, it is vital for the parent/caregiver to be comfortable with the subject of sexuality by being informed, honest, have a Godly moral foundation, expressing them without fear and be willing to be able to tell their child that you do not know the answer and will get back with them immediately. Despite what people, young and older think and even believe, no one knows ALL that there is to know about human sexuality. It is absolutely necessary to reference information in order to be as accurate and truth as possible.
A frequently asked question even in 2004 continues to be is: “Should sex education be the function of the home or school?” Regardless of one’s attitude and/or beliefs if parents/caregivers send their child or young to a school, any school, human sexuality as a topic will be presented or ignored in a biology, life studies, psychology, family’s studies class, discussed in the cafeteria or playground, restroom, locker room between students. In a child’s home, he or she will more than likely observe parental displays of affection (kissing, hand holding, hugs, nakedness or maybe accidentally, perhaps overtly observe their parents engaged in sexual intercourse). Therefore, sex education is clearly being taught and caught in both the home and school environments and must be explained. So it is clearly a function of both institutions. In the home setting, the basic relationships are laid down, the child learns from their parents through mostly observation, how to give, how to receive and how to show affection. In the home as well, he or she learns what it means to be a sexual person, practice self-control, be a moral being sexually. In short, what it means to be a female or male adult. So that by the time he or she enters their first year of school, her or his values and morals relating to sexuality, good or bad, appropriate or inappropriate are pretty well formed.
The schools, as previously indicated, generally all have sex education that are taught mostly in life science or family related classes. These classes are generally amoral, mechanistic programs that omit self-control; moral conviction and breed curiosity about sexual performance in spite of what the school and professional statements alleged to the contrary that school based sex education programs do not encourage overt sexual expression and experimentation.
Pre-pubescent children, both female and male, have reported engagement in consensual sex acts desiring experience of what sexual expression is like indicating little or no grounding in any sort of moral direction. Young children before becoming biologically capable of having children must have the opportunity to ask questions and get straightforward answers that pertain to the reproductive process and human sexual expression:
□ sexual intercourse
□ abstinence until marriage
□ the importance of self-control
□ Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)
□ Abortion (the emotional and biological problems they may and often cause and do experience)
□ Birth control (its benefits and problems)
□ Moral considerations
□ Religion and faith considerations
□ Social responsibilities for a person’s sexual expressions
□ Sexual crimes
□ Child care responsibilities
□ Meanings of love (that sex and love are not one and the same)
□ Divorce (its benefits and problems)
Parents/caregivers should understand that they are fully capable of being a
source of appropriate and straightforward answers to their child or children. As many parents and caregivers know, most school and professionals absolve themselves of self-control and moral considerations for philosophical and economic reasons. Many could care less about a child’s sexual welfare!
Because human sexual behavior is variable and affected by learning and social conditions (In 2004 much of the Western world have adopted sexualized, socially amoral societies, void of social control steeped in multi-billion dollar sex related industries—abortion, pornography, sex trafficking) parental/caregiver involvement in sex education is crucial. There is evidence that children who have the widest and most accurate knowledge regarding their sexualness which includes a religious and moral component find it easier to date, delay sexual intercourse until marriage and learn to acquire superior social skills as it relates to members of the opposite gender. Those with limited sexual knowledge or extensive sex education but no moral or self-control compasses, religious/spiritual considerations report feeling inadequate, awkward, and tend to immediately become seriously involved with the first boy/man or girl/woman they come in contact with.
Moreover, children, adolescents and adults are most likely to “act out” sexually in terms of their lack of moral direction that was never developed in their home lives. How paradoxical it has been demonstrated to be that one of the underlying principles of the school based educational process is and has been the assumption that imparting amoral, secular information to students improves their sexual decision making processes and competence have actually led to worse decisions. The upsurge of abortions, adolescent suicides, epidemic of sexually transmitted disease (STD), emotional disturbance and an inability to meaningfully interact within the marital relationship when marriage does eventually result.
Pre-adolescents and adolescents are looking to their parents/caregivers for adult leadership, for accurate information about their sexual selves, a moral compass and standards of appropriate sexual behavior. Parents/caregivers owe it to their daughters and sons to provide them with as many wholesome and accurate facts and arguments as they can muster in an interactive, pleasant environment. To present information based upon beliefs or to scare the young into abstaining from sexually promiscuous behavior will be met with rebellion and risky often dangerous sexual expressions.
This discourse began with asking the question: “Who is responsible for providing the young with sex education”. Parents/caregivers, the schools, other youth and some churches provide the young with what they know. Ultimately it is a child’s parents/caregivers who are best equipped to provide the most complete and comprehensive range of information to their daughters and sons. Schools and professionals, for the most part, omit the moral and religious components for legal, philosophical and economic reasons. In truth, sex education is a parental responsibility with schools, churches and professionals providing secondary, supportive information when and where needed.
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