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Sex Ed

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My 12-year-old daughter recently brought home a book that her class is about to begin reading, which talks very extensively about sexual body parts, the process of making a baby, and pregnancy. I personally feel the information is a bit too much for her age -- not the facts themselves but the details, which seem a bit too complicated. However, what I really object to is the discussion on abortion -- it gives statistics and then goes on to describe abortions. According to the principal, this series of books has been used in the school for years with no complaints. I think it's probably because other parents haven't actually read the book.

Could this discussion on abortion harm my daughter in any way? I don't want her to be adversely affected by this overabundance of information. This is a parochial school so the school, really has the final say on what is taught. What should I do?

A: Children tend to absorb only the things that they are ready to hear. If your concern is the possibility that your daughter may be overwhelmed with the details, she will likely not focus on them anyway.

You may want to find out ahead of time the day that abortion will be discussed and take your daughter to school late or pick her up early for some reason. That way you could let your daughter participate in the parts that are not as objectionable to you.

If your concern is that the other parents are not aware of what is being taught, ask the principal to schedule a parent meeting so that the book and the curriculum can be discussed. Even in a parochial school, parents should have the right to know about what is being taught.

You will, of course, want to talk with your daughter (if you haven't already) about puberty and sex. That way you can make sure that she hears the information that you want her to have, and you can also share your own values about sex and about abortion. There are many books available to help you with this discussion; check in a local bookstore or in your public library.

More on: Expert Advice

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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