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WV Focus: Reproductive Education and Equality

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What Children Should Know About Human Sexuality

By age five, the child should:

1. Use correct terms for all sexual body parts, including the reproductive organs.

2. Be able to understand the concepts of “maleness” and “femaleness.”

3. Understand that their bodies belong to themselves and that they have a right to say no to unwanted touch.

4. Understand that a woman does not have to have babies unless she wants to.

5. Know where babies come from, use appropriate language.

6. Be able to talk about body parts without a sense of “naughtiness.”

7. Be able to ask trusted adults questions about sexuality.

8. Know that “sex talk” is for private times at home.

Elementary School Children (ages 6-9) should:

1. Begin a study of growth and reproduction in animals and plants—be aware of their needs and the responsibility of caring for them.

2. Have an awareness of the life cycle, including sexuality at all ages.

3. Have and use an acceptable vocabulary for communication about body parts, their own and those of the opposite sex.

4. Have a grasp of different types of families.

5. Be able to identify family roles and responsibilities.

6. Begin to be aware of non-stereotyped gender roles.

7. Become familiar with the health care system, viewing it as non-frightening and supportive of their health and well-being.

8. Take an active role in managing their body’s health and safety.

9. Be able to develop and maintain friendships.

Nine to 13-year-olds (in addition to developing earlier skills) should:

1. Understand human reproduction, including:

  • Human sexuality as a natural part of life
  • The legitimacy and normalcy of sexual feelings.
  • The idea that sex is pleasurable as well as the way to make a baby—the realization that sexual acts can be separated from reproductive acts.
  • The biological components of the reproductive cycle including the probability of pregnancy with unprotected intercourse.
  • How male and female bodies grow and differ.

2. Understand the uses and types of contraception:

  • It is possible to plan parenthood.
  • Having a child is a long-term responsibility, and that every child deserves mature, responsible, loving parents.

3. Understand the changes they can expect to begin in their bodies before puberty

  • Range of times at which normal development begins—including normal differences in male and female timing of these events.
  • The general stages that bodies grow through.
  • Menstruation and wet dreams.

4. Be able to protect themselves against potential sexual abuse and how to react to such dangers.

5. Understand how to be a good friend and how to end a relationship without anger.

6. Understand the purposes and considerations of dating—awareness of potential for damage in exploitative relationships.

7. Recognize of the ways in which behavior can be interpreted as sexual, and how to deal with such interpretation (by 12-13). Recognition of male and female prostitution and its dangers.

8. Be aware of appropriate roles for young men and women—an awareness of the differences between biological sex and socially assigned gender roles.

9. Know how sexually transmitted infections are transmitted and treated.

10.Have knowledge of the relationships among family members and how families fit into society.

Fourteen- to 18-year-olds (in addition to developing previously listed skills) should:

1. Be knowledgeable about human sexuality:

  • Recognize the impact of media presentations which push for sexual involvement.
  • Understand differences in sexuality including homosexuality, celibacy, and marriage.
  • Have an articulated value system about interpersonal relations, including sexual behavior.
  • Know contraceptive alternatives and the causes and treatments of sexually transmitted infections.

2. Understand social pressures and have a demonstrated awareness of the potential consequences of casual sexual relationships.

3. Understand personal relationships:

  • Understand they have a right not to have sexual relations.
  • Be able to have and maintain friends.
  • Be able to identify expectations of marriage, e.g., emotional support, companionship, child rearing.
  • Have information on changing relationships in families over time.
  • Be aware of the mixture of independence and responsibility needed at their age.

4. Receive education for parenthood:

  • Be able to demonstrate knowledge of the stages of gestation.
  • Know the basics of child care and child development, including sexual development.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the responsibilities of parenthood.
  • Discuss how they believe children should be raised.
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