Being a mother, working with youth, and having a background in education will probably be a gift and a curse for my children. Knowing what I know about everything involving youth and children and the world has made me overprotective and a little paranoid over them. I push education, morals, values, friendships, and safety onto my children. But most importantly, safety!
Growing up, there weren’t this many kidnappings and missing children in my community. If a kid didn’t go home when he/she was supposed to, it was probably because they were with their friends and lost track of time. Within the last 2 years, every week I’ve seen some type of missing person post of a child come across my social media feed. I even had a conversation with a friend of mine about how we let our children play outside. I kindly told them that they were a little too lenient with where they let their kid wander to outside and they became defensive. I don’t even let my kids walk behind me when we are walking anywhere, let alone allowing them to go off and play outside of my eyesight. I guess I’m just a little too protective of my children-all children within my care. Especially because I know the statistics of 1- young children having sex in elementary school and 2- the rates that children are being trafficked for selling sex (themselves) and/or drugs. I do not wish for any child that I know or care for falling into those statistics.
So that leads me to my question- how young is TOO YOUNG to talk to children and start educating them about these things? Being the youth development director at my job, I am certified to teach sexual risk avoidance curriculums (sex ed) to young kids. Because we receive funding for it, we need parental consent outside of the schools to teach the curriculums. I cannot tell you how many parents do not want their kids talking/knowing about ATTRACTION, let alone developing healthy relationships with their peers. Moms. Dads. I get it. You think that talking to your child might open up a door that you aren’t ready for them to walk into. But the flip side is- what if they are already talking about it; or worse-doing it? Need I remind you that I know the statistics? In 2015, 3.9% of students have had sexual intercourse for the first time before age 13 years. The prevalence of having had sexual intercourse before age 13 years was higher among male (5.6%) than female (2.2%) students. Considering the fact that 30 years of public health research clearly demonstrates that when young people receive such education, they are more likely to delay sexual initiation, and to use protection when they do eventually become sexually active, than those who receive no sex education or learn only about abstinence. Withholding information about sex and sexuality will not keep children safe; it will only keep them ignorant. Proven research has backed this theory, yet parents are still leery about educating their children.
I have begun to teach my children to name all body parts with the proper name. We don’t call anything “the cookie”, “your goodies”, “your privates”, or any other name other than what it actually is. They can refer to it as whatever they would like, but when I ask “what are you referring to love?”, they both are able to name the part. Educating them about good touching and bad touching in those areas, and who should be touching there in the first place, etc. I am also transitioning them into being able to take a shower and washing themselves independently so that NO ONE will need to be anywhere near them without clothes on period. Including myself. We used to be able to say that just girls were getting molested, but now boys are being targeted just as much- if not more- than little girls. As they grow older, I will teach them about attraction, urges, protection, and the right way to protect themselves if they decide to have sex. Both of my kids get sexually aroused. If you think that children do not touch and play with themselves, you might need to have a long conversation with your child’s pediatrician. I’ve even had to explain to my daughter that she should do that to herself only when she is alone in her room because it is not appropriate to do in front of people. That was not an easy conversation to have with a 4-year-old.
We as parents need to start being proactive rather than reactive with our children. We work. We aren’t with our children 24/7, not matter how much time you spend with them. Teaching them before someone else does will help your child (and you) avoid many difficult situations in the future. From one parent to another, do not be scared of them knowing- be scared of them learning from someone else.
Be legendary Kings; be extraordinary Queens!