Let’s talk about sex education this morning because you guys are really good at helping me see opposing view points.

A local mother was aghast to see a sex education pamphlet that was sent home with her fifth-grader, handed out by the school nurse in the Steel Valley School District.

Before I fully read the article, I thought to myself, “Tsk. This mother is probably all upset because the booklet dares talk about body hair in new places, voice changes, and the sudden interest in the opposite sex. Chill out, mom. This is 2011.”

But then I read the article and saw what was in the pamphlet and WHAT THE VAN HALEN?!


This is what the schools are giving to 10- and 11-year-olds?

I have a very distinct junior high school memory of watching a “puberty” video in health class and the most explicit part of the video was an animated girl stick figure suddenly sprouting hair in a place where hair hadn’t been before, resulting in explosive laughter from the totally mature classroom. The video also had nice animated acne and animated profuse sweating.

That was then; this is now.

I found the booklet, which is from Proctor and Gamble, online in PDF format and read some of the stuff. Snippets:

  • When a boy or man is sexually excited, or sometimes for no reason at all, his penis becomes harder and stands away from his body. This is called an erection.
  • You can get an erection any time your penis is touched or rubbed, you have happy or exciting thoughts, or if you see someone attractive.
  • The average ejaculation contains more than 40 million sperm.
  • Sometimes semen spurts out of the penis.

Sex education is important and the booklet does a good job of answering questions that might be asked, but I don’t think this booklet should have reached the hands of a 10- or 11-year-old by way of a school nurse, or at least they should let the parents preview the booklet before deciding how they want to use it.

Some parents might give it to their child early.

Some might want to wait until their child starts asking more serious questions beyond, “Dad. Why do my pits stink so bad all of a sudden?”

Some might want to use different literature.

And some might be like my parents. “Sex? SEX?! Have you been watching Three’s Company again? Ask me again when you’re thirty.”

It’s a miracle my sisters and I all aren’t either crazy cat ladies or giant sluts with ten kids apiece from four different babydaddies.


  1. Janelle
    May 26, 2011 12:09 pm

    It does seem a little bit young, but then again–although boys and girls are obviously different–girls, at least, sometimes start getting periods around nine.

    But that’s easy for me to say. I knew way too much at way too young an age thanks to older friends and cousins. Better for kids to hear the facts in an educational manner. I went to Catholic school, so the nuns skipped it. There was a girl who came in with this book called, “It’s a Girl Thing” that answers all sorts of puberty-related questions and was a great resource, but since we weren’t getting any information at school and my mom just gave me the basics and talking to your mom about these things at that age is just totally weird the book was passed around and poured over. In middle school and high school, the emphasis was more on not having premarital sex, getting pregnant, having an abortion if you do, or masturbating. We weren’t presented with much in the way of useful biology until junior year–well after some of my classmates were having sex and pregnancy scares.

  2. spoon
    May 26, 2011 12:21 pm

    My family took me to Smithfield St news, bought me a Playboy at age 13 and said “here ya go!”

    I went to catholic school my whole life so even mentioning the subject was off limits.

  3. Christa
    May 26, 2011 1:07 pm

    10 or 11 might sound young, but that is how old I was when I started having my period. And I used to work with a girl who had a baby when she was 14. Which means she got pregnant when she was 13. It is a very touchy subject and all parents handle these things differently. I’m just saying that some helpful warning can be a good thing.

  4. Jaime
    May 26, 2011 1:38 pm

    What surprised me the most about this particular story was how the district’s been distributing this exact pamphlet for more than a decade and this is the first parent who’s been alarmed by it? I agree that parents should have been informed of what was coming because it is a hot button issue, but not with the information itself.

    I’m of the belief that the truth is always the best way to handle a situation. I was given “Are you there, God? Its me, Margaret.” Happy Puberty! But I was also raised in an open environment where I knew that I could ask questions. People will disagree on what is the right time, place, etc. MTV is glorifying teen pregnancy by making stars out of teenagers getting pregnant and that’s socially acceptable but a pamphlet on puberty isn’t? (BTW – I watch Teen Mom :) ) Society can’t have it both ways.

  5. Jlyle
    May 26, 2011 1:42 pm

    I’m in the district – they did send a note home letting the parents know the talk would be taking place. The child either did not take it home or the parents did not see it.

    Either way, the district did their part to “warn” the parents.

  6. MrsGJG
    May 27, 2011 10:40 am

    I have 3 boys. They are still little, but I think I would be happy for them to have this information in 5th grade at the latest. We did our “talk” in 5th grade, and by then I remember several classmates already knew a thing or two themselves. This was in 1990. God I’m old.

  7. Jennifer Lyn
    May 27, 2011 9:46 pm

    I was in 5th grade for the same talk. Those are the same things that were in the boys’ video (ours was about menstruation). By our video 2 girls I know had already started their period, and I’m sure plenty of boys had been experiencing erections for quite some time. These things are confusing and the time for explaining it is early rather than late.

  8. Sam's Dog
    May 28, 2011 9:09 am

    @ Mrs. GJG, 5th grade in 1990? Please, my son was born in 1991. Wait ’till your kids head off to college to feel elderly, or at least well on the way to the poor house. Oops, sorry for the outdated reference- you can google it.

  9. Butcher's Dog
    May 30, 2011 10:56 am

    Not to be, you know, cynical here, but if your kids ride the school bus they’ve already gotten a warped version of what’s in the pamphlet regardless of when the pamphlet’s being distributed. Just sayin’.

  10. Theresa
    June 3, 2011 3:04 am

    I am a school nurse and yes I did distribute those pamphlets as well. They are free, factual and good basic info with the appropriate medical terminology used! I never get calls or interest from parents when I send home info about the class that they have the option of having their child sit out of. The public school system has the burden of doing a lot of jobs that are probably the parents resposibility! I do that job and no it is not fun, actually the resposibility of this job is frightening. Not because of the material, I try to keep it simple but Children are becoming sexually active at younger ages and I am sometimes afraid that simple is not good enough. I have students asking me if they can get herpes from oral sex!!! So get off of your high horse and do the job yourself if you have a problem!!!!

  11. Theresa
    June 3, 2011 4:37 am

    I should have prefaced my opinion with the fact that I am a Christain woman and I try to uphold Chrisian values and I love my job as a school nurse. I myself have teen age children and the fact that there are 5th grade children out there asking about such bold topics such as sexually transmitted diseases scares me for my children, your children and even my future grandchildren! Regardless what we want our world to be, it is rapidly changing. I would rather our children be knowledgable with the facts, than be dead or have something so serious that may have irreversible consequences because we weren’t ready for them to hear about “that kind of stuff” yet. Because ready or not, they may learn the wrong facts from those kids that are asking me “those kind of questions”. And I do mail my forms home regarding permission for the class so every parent has the opportunity to ask me questions and even preview my material (rarely do I get requests for such). Also a big THANK YOU to Proctor and Gamble for providing the schools with FREE info otherwise there would be NONE! Budget Budget Budget……Yes, there are sadly many CHILDREN having sex. One of them may be yours or mine but I try to teach mine my values at home and pray that it all sinks in (lierally) when they start learning about the facts of life from the kid in the next desk. We ALL need to prepare our children with the real facts, one 2 hour class is not near enough. I know… I am a school nurse…I am aware of what many young students are involved in. And once again, I am scared for our children’s future!!