Banter || Sex Education: How Early Is Too Early?

About three years ago or so, a friend of mine who is a teacher in a private primary school in Abuja, told me they had begun teaching the pupils Sex Education. Honestly, that didn’t sit too well with me. I had felt it was too early. I still feel it’s too early. The average age of the oldest pupil in any primary school is ten years, maximum, eleven.

I have always had the thought that if you expose something to someone that they didn’t know about before, and you make it seem forbidden, their interest is piqued. You know what they say about the forbidden fruit seeming sweeter. I fear that exposing a child to that type of information may further arouse their already highly curious minds and cause them to become interested in ‘testing’.

But at the same time, I worry that with more perverted men and women on the loose, children are in danger, now more than before. It’s frightening the number of pedophilia stories that are on the rise. No age is spared. None. Not too long ago, the BBM personal message of a friend of mine was about a man who was caught raping a seven-month old baby. A seven-month old baby. Stories like that just make you wonder.

So how then do we strike a balance? What topics should be discussed with pupils without too much being given away? You should hear some children talk about sex-related topics—your heart would crawl to your mouth, I tell you. How do we teach children what is right and wrong without arousing the desire to experiment? How can children be protected from perversion but still have their innocence and childhood intact. Is it even possible? It’s not even just about protecting their innocence; how do we protect them? The seven-month old baby who was raped certainly hadn’t reached that age of fluid communication so Sex Education would never have had any part to play in saving her life.

About two weeks ago, I came across an article about a mother who walked in on her maid and a male staff (don’t remember what his job was) having sex right in the presence of her children, a boy and a girl, in her living room. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the mother questioned her children and found out they were asked, by the adults, to reenact what they had seen…with each other; i.e. brother was told to have sex with his sister. I don’t think these children were up to ten years of age. I nearly had a heart attack when I read that story and I don’t know if such scenarios are covered in Sex Education classes. This begs the question of how much information the children should be privy to—should it be limited to “Don’t sit on any uncle’s laps”, “Don’t let anybody touch your peepee”, “Boys have penises, girls have vaginas”? Or should they also be told that sex isn’t something they should consider starting at all, till they get to a certain age or that it isn’t something brother should do with sister? Also, you know how it is with children—one question usually leads to another. How do you efficiently deflect excessive questioning but still give ample answers that would satisfy their curiosity?

And what about the ones who have been abused already or the ones like in the story I earlier told about the siblings? Is there a way to reverse or manage the psychological effect? How early is too early, guys? How much information is too much? Who should do it? Is it something that should be left for parents or is it something that should be taught in school? I would love to know your thoughts on this. Please, let’s discuss.

Ihuoma.

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9 thoughts on “Banter || Sex Education: How Early Is Too Early?

  1. Its a lot to deal with..the what, how, when and why. But if i am to say, irrespective of the part we chose to deal with, it is important to hammer on the why…the consequences and the effects they will have to deal with down the line of action or inaction. Its a crazy world and it is getting worse by the day. May God protect us and ours.

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  2. I literally cringed at some of the stories here. Like you rightly said, the realities we face now are quite different from what it was before. (Maybe it has always been this way, just not reported as much, I don’t know) but these days, is it ever too early to teach kids about it? Once they can grasp things, the discussion must be had, however, what is taught should be age appropriate. And yes, the why should be emphasized.

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    1. Hi Amarachi. Thanks for your input.

      There have always been cases of abuse, but I think so many parents were in denial. And there’s also the desperate need to keep things shrouded and hidden, so even if a few people knew, the case would always be swept under the carpet. However, we can’t dispute the power of the internet, how the world has become so small and how information now spreads like wildfire and that’s why we know more now.

      I know it’s something children need to be taught. There’s no escaping it, but still I worry that if wisdom isn’t applied, more damage may be done. I do agree that what is taught should be age appropriate.

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  3. I don’t even know where to start. The world is in shambles. Before, I used to pray that God should not give me a girl cos of the wicked stories of abuse you hear. But now, even our sons are not safe. So, the best time, in my opinion, to have this conversation is when you know that they are able to understand what you are saying. The tone of your conversation should be tailored towards their level of understanding.

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    1. Hmm, Onyinyechi. You would hear some things and just shudder. I do agree about the ‘how’ in passing the message across. That’s very important.

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  4. Personally, I’d rather the education be left till the age where they should be aware, and that’s not Pry school for me. The saying “You act better when you know better” does not apply in this situation. When these kids know these things at these ages, what can they possibly do to protect their bodies or prevent their chances of being raped. I mean, what is the knowledge of open sex talk going to do? I’ve never really gotten it. What are we sensitizing? Why expose their minds to something that would not help them or am I missing something?

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    1. I feel exactly the same way, Oluchi. You’re not missing anything at all but the world has become such a perverse place to be in. I believe the main thing is to create a balance – instead of giving waaay too much information about things they have no business knowing, what should be taught should be age appropriate. For instance, I feel children should know that it’s not OK for an adult to touch you in a certain way. And that it’s OK to report to someone in spite of what the paedophiles tell them. To me, any ‘lesson’ more than that is just too much.

      Thanks for your input.

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