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Sex, it’s one of the biggest mysteries in life. Something we never stop learning about from cradle to grave. Fortunately we’ve come a long way since the Victorian era, though we do need to remember that kids need a basic knowledge of the world, and from as young an age as possible.

I’m not talking about reading them 50 Shades at the age of 5, or getting the Queer as Folk and Orange is the new Black box sets at the age of 8. But age appropriate education.

As a homosexual of the highest order, I understand that my life and lifestyle isn’t, shall we say, the most conventional, but my nieces and nephews have seen firsthand what a healthy relationship looks like from a young age.

Sex education isn’t only about where babies come from. It’s a huge subject that needs addressing in bite sized chunks, starting from as young as 3 or 4. Explaining that some people have 1 parent, some have 2, some have same sex parents, some have carers, basically different family dynamics.

Then when a little older, the difference between abusive, controlling relationships and happy and fulfilling relationships, and being able to spot the signs of abuse. The difference between inappropriate touching and simply giving your Uncle Bob a hug hello. What should essentially be common sense teaching.

At around 10, everyone (boys and girls) should be taught about how their bodies will change, and that girls will menstruate once a month, and boys will suddenly find their voices are an octave lower. There is nothing dirty or wrong about knowing what the opposite sex’s body does and why it does it, it’s basic human science.

Once they’re getting older, or towards the age of sexual consent (16 in most of Europe), the making babies bit should be explained, in detail. But furthermore, the risks that come from sex. It’s all well and good telling kids how to make a baby, but there are nasty things out there you can catch from sexual partners too. Herpes, Syphilis, HIV, Gonorrhoea, and the most important one, Pregnancy and child birth, because as soon as you have a child, you’re pretty much going to have to look after them for life. Safe sex practices and contraception should also be covered and explained. Schools aren’t teaching enough about this side of sex.

By all means, try and shelter your little darlings as long as possible, but remember, the rise of online pornography is giving both boys and girls a distorted view of sex and relationships. Girls think they need to have boobs the size of melons and a waist not exceeding 24”, and boys are thinking they need to look like action man and be hung like a horse. Which simply isn’t true.

People constantly bleat on about kids growing up to fast, but in this day and age, where a simple search for ‘Porn’ will come back with millions of hits, some extreme to the point of morally questionable, we need to educate our young to know that what they see in one of those videos isn’t reality, and what is reality, is refreshingly mundane.

 

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Sara O'Connell
A passionate photographer from Arizona, Sara enjoys art and culture.