"Teach manners and morals first please": Our parents weigh in on school sex-ed policies

sex education - too young to know?
sex education - too young to know?

It's a fact that sex education doesn't feature prominently in South Africa's school curriculum, but when it was recently reported that the 2020 Grade 4 curriculum may include topics such as masturbation, parents had a lot to say. 

The Department of Education clarified their reported comment, explaining that the Grade 4s will learn "in a most age appropriate and sensitive way, how babies are made". You can read their update here: Department of Education slams claims of masturbation lessons for Grade 4 pupils

But parents were not mollified. See some of the responses to the retraction, below.

What are your thoughts on the current and future state of sex ed lessons at school? Tell us your opinion and we could publish your story.

"Our education curriculum in Mzansi needs serious reforms"

Also read: Bringing “the talk” onto school premises: case for comprehensive sexuality education

Many parents reached out via email to share their thoughts on this topic: 

Children have parents for a reason

Kershnee, mom to an eight year old, wrote to us to say:

"I am frankly appalled that this kind of approach will be deemed adequate to prevent teenage pregnancies.

"We are bombarding our innocent children with sensitive information in the hope that they will make more informed decisions. Information isn’t the only aspect to consider," she explained.

"Children have parents for a reason, we are there to morally guide them into mature individuals one day. But the government is interfering with my right to parent and protect my child. This kind of approach will not stop the occurrence of teenage pregnancies, but will result in child pregnancies."

Get their priorities right

An anonymous mom shared the same sentiments as many of the concerned parents: 

"Our kids are so stressed and have anxieties due to too much information that they are taught, that is not necessary for their age.  

"The Department of Education must set their priorities right because right now they're killing our children and this is really frustrating for us as parents because when kids get out of hand the blame is shifted to parents not the sick twisted education curriculum."

Also read: Trying to talk to your teen about sex? This is why you’re getting it wrong

So, how do we teach kids about sex?

It seems that parents would prefer to teach their kids about sex rather than to leave it to the school. So how do we bring up "the talk"? 

Owner and Co-Founder of the StepUp Foundation, Cindy Glass, offers her expert advice:

"With patience and love, you can learn to trust each other, despite the difficulties and challenges that you will face as a family."

She continues, saying your children will most likely model what you do rather than what you say.

Here are 5 actionable behaviours that parents can implement to help create and nurture trust:

1. Learn to listen to understand:

There is a difference between hearing and listening.

Listening entails eye contact and a genuine, sincere interest in what the other person is saying.

2. Be your word: 

Do what you say and say what you do, consistently and sincerely.

3. Be the person your children can rely on:

Keep your promises. Consistently tell the truth.

4. Establish boundaries and accountability: 

Just as you are accountable for your own behaviours, teach your children to own theirs.

5. Strive for non-judgmental parenting:

Children who hide their challenges and negative behaviour (creating a sense of mistrust) do this because they are fearful of their parents' reactions. 

Keep the lines of communication open by assuring your children that you do, indeed, have their back. Seek positive solutions to challenges together.

This does not mean that you must overlook or justify behaviours. It simply means that your children will fall from time to time and they need a safe, trustworthy place to seek solace.

Read more about how to talk to your kids about this sensitive topic:

Chat back: 

What are your thoughts on sex ed lessons in school? Tell us your opinion and we could publish you letter.

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