All sorts of reasons exist why children need sex education at a younger age than in years gone by. One of the biggest reasons is the epidemic known as HIV/AIDS. Children are going to hear this bandied about the news and will hear about it from their friends. While the media may give a lot more accurate information about the topic, the peers who are not any wiser than any other children are more than likely misinform their friends.
Furthermore, parents will be able to deliver the message in a non-threatening way. Parents are also able to put their own stamp of family values on the subject. It is only normal to expect a fourth grade child to understand that this is a very dangerous disease that is spread from person to person and that it can be fatal.
That said, the child should be told that sitting next to an infected person or hugging that person would not be harmful in any way. It should be explained that the disease is spread through the blood. At earlier ages it is not necessary to go into too much detail about how the infection takes place.
Children who are somewhat older, between nine to twelve can be given a little more information. The issue of sharing AIDS infected needles can be mentioned to the child. This is good for the purposes of explaining that drug abuse is not right AIDS or no AIDS. The days of children becoming blood brothers and piercing each other's ears are now strictly taboo.
The virus can be present in breast milk, blood, semen and vaginal secretions. Oral and anal sex is also a way that this can be transferred. Mothers who have HIV and are pregnant can transfer this to the unborn baby. Mothers who are infected can transfer this via breast-feeding as well.
The importance of sex education for children of this age cannot be over emphasized. Parents can use this opportunity to teach the child the importance of love when engaging in sex. Children should also be told that the best form of safe sex is no sex.
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