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Sex education: How young is too young?

on Jul 1, 2010 | Sexual Health Sex ed Adolescent health | 0 comments

A somewhat controversial article was published in the UK last week. According to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) in London and Manchester, children as young as five years old should be taught about sex—and not just sex but the “value of ‘mutually rewarding sexual relationships’” says Jimmy Kilpatrick from

While I understand that kids should understand the value of healthy relationships —and at this age I would define “healthy relationships” as showing teachers and peers respect, kindness, and overall “treating others as you would like to be treated”—what do five year olds need to know about mutually rewarding sexual relationships?!? At this age, the only thing they should know about sexual relationships is … well…nothing. Yeah, I get the importance of sex ed. for sure, but starting that young?? Get real!  Teach them the alphabet first…

What approach do you believe should be taken when teaching adolescents sex education? Research has shown that abstinence only education is not effective. So how should schools go about teaching sex ed and what should the curriculum include? ASHA supports comprehensive sex ed programs that teach the value of abstinence along with the need for those who are sexually active to protect themselves.

I believe teaching kids sex education early could have its benefits. When should it start? Given that puberty usually begins around age 10 and a girl normally gets her first period around age 12 or 13, this seems a more appropriate time to introduce sex ed. What do you think?

If you don’t believe schools should teach sex education, whose role is it to teach kids about sex? Many people believe that education should begin in the home. Sex education is seen as a private rather than public matter. While NICE is pushing sex education in schools, they are also urging schools to provide courses for parents to help them talk with their children about sex and relationships. That partnership between schools and parents seems like a good approach. If you want to know how you can be an approachable and askable parent, buy ASHA’s brochure on the topic and check out the our “I wanna know” website for more.

**Click the link for a related recent news article about controversy between religion and the government concerning sex education in the Philippines (sex education—a public or private matter?) Feel free to leave thoughts on this as well! **

~Connie A.



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