How young should students start learning about sex in school?

Posted at 1:17 PM, Jan 13, 2012
and last updated 2012-01-17 13:24:46-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Should children learn about sex in school and at what age should they learn it?

This week, four health groups published guidelines it would like to see adopted in America's public schools.

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The National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, K–12 outlined what these groups believed should be taught in school, including:

By the end of 2nd grade, students:

  • should use proper names for body parts including male and female anatomy.
  • should be able to explain that all living things reproduce.

By the end of 5th grade, students:

  • should be able to describe the male and female reproductive systems including body parts and their functions.
  • should be able to define sexual orientation as the romantic attraction of an individual to someone of the same gender or  different gender. [CLICK HERE: Read the entire report]

"I do think times are different. I think that kids are exposed to a lot more," said founder of Kate Hall. "My two boys came home from school discussing something that I really didn't think we'd be talking about ages nine and six, so I've had to have those conversations earlier."

Not everyone agrees with the proposed guidelines.

"Second grade seems a bit young to me to be talking about human sexuality," said Susan Brown with Commonwealth Parenting. "I'm not sure we're going to change children's views until the dialogue at home begins to change."

“I hope parents are having these conversations because certainly it wouldn`t be comfortable for the educators and for the kids,” Hall said.

The proposed guidelines are just that, guidelines designed to provide a road map for school districts to follow.

The Virginia Department of Education told CBS 6 it's standards provide a K thru 12 curriculum that included age-appropriate sex education and abstinence.

“Kids are very confused about sex. What is sex? I think they focus on the mechanics of sex and less on the emotional piece of sex," Brown said. "I think that is what is most important is to set up a relationship between parents and children where children can come to you with whatever questions or concerns they may have.”

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For many parents having the 'Talk' is not something they relish. Sitting down with their little boy or girl to address the Birds and Bees can sting.

There is help out there for parents.

Commonwealth Planning will be holding "how to" classes in April.