California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Why Elementary Children Need More Education On Sex

According to the California Healthy Youth Act that took effect January 1st 2016, school districts are required to provide students with comprehensive, integrated, accurate and inclusive sexual education and HIV prevention education once in high school and middle school. This is nowhere near enough, and sexual health education certainly should not begin so late. Children are already starting to hit puberty in middle school.

Children should begin sexual education in elementary school in order to prevent unwanted teen pregnancies, as well as, to decrease dangerous abortion rates.

An article from PBS discussed how sexual education begins in the Netherlands at the age of four. At this age, children begin to learn the names of body parts, where babies come from, and what they should know is inappropriate in case they need to inform an adult.

Michael McCambridge, director of the Interdisciplinary Education Studies Program at California Lutheran University, has a doctorate in education. He said he believes that having these programs start at a young age can be beneficial.

McCambridge said he believes when it comes to teen pregnancy rates and dangerous abortions, we can only predict that starting sexual education at a young age can help decrease them since cultures are so different. However, in the U.S., it could be effective since schools teach anything from abstinence to nothing at all.

โ€œWe let parents take the role and parents can opt-out of their children learning about [sexual education] in schools,โ€ McCambridge said. โ€œAs a value judgement, I think it is a factor when arriving at those conclusions.โ€

I remember being in middle school learning about how abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method against pregnancy. Other than that, I canโ€™t recall much other sexual education I received other than a high school health course. For some people, waiting until they start to think about sexual experiences to begin this kind of education is too late.

โ€œI think that programs which talk about a lot of different things are helpful, so it would be appropriate to begin to integrate it over time,โ€ McCambridge said. โ€œConsidering the development of children, I think it would help to have a program that runs from K-12.โ€

According to PBS, the Netherlands also happens to to have better sexual health amongst teens than other countries. It was reported that compared to teens in the U.S. and other European countries, teens in the Netherlands wait longer to have sex.

The PBS article wrote, โ€œAccording to the World Bank, the teen pregnancy rate in the Netherlands is one of the lowest in the world, it is actually five times lower than the U.S. Rates of HIV Infection and sexually transmitted diseases are also low.โ€

What I find to be the most unacceptable part of sexual education in the U.S. is that there are only 18 states including the District of Columbia that require schools to cover information on birth control. It is no wonder our teen pregnancy and STD rates are so high. How can people practice safe sex if they are not informed on different methods of birth control?

โ€œTypically, we ask each other and often the information we get isnโ€™t correct,โ€ McCambridge said. โ€œThere are things you can read, but they are open to interpretation-having a qualified teacher would be better.โ€

It should be required that all schools in the country teach sexual education from a young age. Starting this kind of comprehensive learning at such a young age allows children to ask questions that come up at different times during their adolescence.

We should not feel afraid or ashamed to talk about sex and the many different topics that come with it. As humans, we should embrace it and be open and honest. Doing so is the best way to be healthy and safe.

Ashley Fisherย 


More to Discover