AUCKLAND, New Zealand, December 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new graphic sex education program aimed at five-to-12 year-olds has been launched in New Zealand, drawing sharp criticism from parents who are shocked at the material covered.
The Every Body Education program provides both in-school and out-of-school programs for children aged between 5 and 12-years-old.
Presented by Kathryn Heape, children are taught what she perceives to be age-appropriate information about sexuality, starting at the earliest age with the details of sex.
“We talk about how the baby grows in the uterus, [and] we talk about how the penis's job is to deliver the sperm to the egg through the vagina. It's all very matter of fact,” she recently told 3 News.
In addition to this “matter of fact” explanation of sexual intercourse, five and six-year-olds are taught the scientific terms for sexual and reproductive body parts. Childbirth is described, and, under the guise of personal safety, condoms are shown with the instruction not to pick them up off the ground.
According to the Every Body Education literature, seven and eight-year-old children are given information about menstruation and nocturnal emissions (wet dreams). They are also taught that “all families have different values and beliefs towards sexual activity”.
Nine and ten-year-olds are taught about the different ways conception can occur, how families are formed, and the “responsibilities that come with being in a romantic relationship.”
Sexual and reproductive health, STI’s and sexual responsibility are in the curriculum for eleven and twelve-year-olds.
So far five North Island primary schools have signed up for the program, according to 3News.
Heape believes “the earlier we start talking, the better.”
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But parents disagree.
One mother Carla Smith, who attended a Health Curriculum Community Evening at her child’s school in November, was disturbed the program was even being considered by her children’s school.
Smith said she believes that a “one size fits all approach” is “inappropriate” in the school setting. Discussion around sexuality “should be introduced at home by parents at an age they determine appropriate for their individual children,” she told 3News.
“I just think you're placing seeds in their head which they may not know what to do with. Who knows where those seeds are going to go in the future, and in what directions they're going to turn?” Smith said.
Although the Every Body Education website welcomes the involvement of parents, and requests that a parent presentation is held prior to classes for children, critics are sceptical.
“Involving parents doesn’t change the fact that this material is graphic” says Dame Colleen Bayer of Family Life International NZ. “It assaults children’s innocence. It is a form of abuse. We need to get this, and other sex ed programmes out of our schools.”
Sex education is being discussed on a national level as teen pregnancy, STI’s and deviant behaviour among youth increases.
All New Zealand public schools, including Catholic integrated schools, must provide “sexuality education” to students in Years 1 to 10. Parents can remove their children from classes. However, a proposal removing the option for parents to withdraw their children from classes has been tabled.
Currently schools are able to choose their own resources as long as the curriculum achievement objectives for each year level are met. Consultation with the school community about the program must also take place every two years.
Heape is a qualified teacher with a degree in Psychology, and developed the sex ed program after spending a year training and working in Vancouver, Canada with Saleema Noon Sexual Health Educators.