Ostrich parents in Queensland are said to be up in arms today about a sex education website aimed at Grade 7 students.
The site, thehormonefactory.com (warning:website sound), contains a selection of pubertal anatomy and physiology, basic sex information, talk about body image and bullying, information on children’s rights, and info on protective behaviours both on and off line.
Primary school students are being told abortion can be “a relief” and hormones make you “feel sexy” on a website endorsed by Education Queensland.
Outraged parent groups are demanding the State Government immediately withdraw its endorsement, warning the website is inappropriate and even dangerous for pre-teens. But educators argue it is a valuable, fun tool that helps children entering their teens learn about their bodies.
The controversial site, thehormonefactory.com, has been approved as a student resource for Queensland Year 7 classes.
Set up by La Trobe University, it uses cartoons to tell 10 to 12-year-olds why certain hormones give them “sexy thoughts” and start making them “interested in sex”. It asks students if they think “a six-inch penis is normal” and if they believe “13 is too young to have a baby”. Students are told it can be a relief if a woman has a termination.
I think the Hormone Factory site is poorly designed, inaccessible, predominantly heteronormative, and perhaps a bit simplistic in places for its target audience. However, the information in it is mostly solid, and respectful of the variety of opinions and experiences around sex.
The site tells children that masturbation is normal, that sex should be their decision, that they should wait until they’re old enough and mature enough to handle the consequences, that adults should never behave sexually with them, that porn is not a good source of sex ed.
[Because the site is so difficult to use, I’ve appended a sampling of the information they present.]
Note that where the newspaper talks about the site saying that abortion can be “a relief”, what they actually said was “Having a termination is a hard decision to make, and can be very sad. It can also be a relief.” The site also includes controversial statements like “The only sure way of not making a baby is to not have sexual intercourse.”
Oh noes! Giving children accurate, factual information! They must be STOPPED!
*mild trigger warning now applies, non graphic child sexual abuse report*
Also in today’s news, sex offender Neil Havens Rodreick II has been sentenced to more than seventy years in prison after posing as a 12 year old to enrol in schools.
Rodreick attended schools in Arizona starting in 2005. Authorities said he shaved and wore makeup to help him appear younger, convincing teachers, students and administrators that he was a boy named Casey.
He was caught in January 2007 after spending a day in the seventh grade when school officials became suspicious because his birth certificate and other documents looked forged. They had initially thought they might be dealing with a child who had been abducted.
Authorities didn’t find any victims of sexual abuse at the schools Rodreick attended, but they found an extensive collection of child pornography at his home. […] The assault charge involved an allegation that he grabbed a girl’s buttocks at a school in Prescott Valley with the intent to injure, insult or provoke.
Rodreick was arrested with Brian Nellis, 36, who was posing as his cousin, and two older men posing as their uncle and grandfather.
So tell me again why we shouldn’t be educating children about their bodies, their rights, their self-esteem, and creepy people?
Howard Sattler characterises the Hormone Factory site as an “assault on childhood” in his Mad As Hell column, When sex-ed goes all the way.
Sattler’s a prat in every way, of course. The rest of the column goes on to also call a child care centre’s decision to stop providing licensed toys and costumes such as Barbie and The Wiggles as an “assault on childhood”. Where would we be without such crusading princes?
I tell you this, Sattler: If our sex ed hasn’t “gone all the way” by the time our kids are 12, they’ll get their first taste of sex ed either from people like Neil Havens Rodreick, or at the GP when that positive pregnancy test comes back.
A sampling from The Hormone Factory website:
Research in Australia says that about half of all 18 year olds have had sex. But more 18 year olds have not had sex. Some people never ever have sex, and lots of people do by the time they are in their 20’s. And no-one ever, ever HAS to have sex. It is their own choice.
No-one’s sex bits look just the same. We have different shaped ears and noses, or skin colour, and sex bits can look different too.
Wet dreams usually start at puberty, and happen when a boy is asleep. A boy might have a sexy dream and when he wakes up his pyjamas or sheets could be wet or sticky from semen.
This is normal.
It might happen once or twice in a lifetime, or three times a week.
This is normal too.
When a girl has her period the egg and lining are trickling out of the uterus through the vagina and onto her underpants.
She might feel nothing, or she might feel wet and like bubbles are coming out of her vagina. Some girls get backaches or tummy aches when they get their periods, and can feel pretty terrible. It can help to put a hot water bottle on your belly, or have a hot bath. Going for a walk might help, and sometimes you should go to the chemist and ask for some paracetomol.
It is against the law in Australia and most countries for anyone under 16 to have sex. That’s because it is a very important decision in your life, and it’s important you feel safe and that is a nice thing to do. If you feel scared or forced, it is not right to have sex. If you are under 16 the person having sex with you is doing the wrong thing and you should TELL someone you trust. Also, sex can make babies, so a person needs to be old enough deal with that.
Having sex can feel great and loving, or boring, or uncomfortable. When a person feels ready, safe, happy, and old enough, it is more likely to feel great. The reason for this is to try and protect kids from getting pregnant, or catching a sex infection, and to stop children being forced to have sex. Having sex should be a good, happy and sexy feeling. It should not be scary, or a person should not have sex because they think they should do it. It is important both people want to have sex.
You told us you are 11 and asked us if it’s wrong to look at naked ladies showing breasts and vaginas. These kinds of pictures are called pornography. It is normal for you to be interested in this stuff at this age. (It is also normal not to be interested yet). But, pictures of naked people on the Internet is not a good way for you to find out about sex when you are this age. Usually these photos show sex and women in a pretty yucky way that makes women seem like they enjoy being treated badly, and it doesn’t show sex as a loving kind of thing, just a thing that is about body parts. It is against the law for an adult to show you pornography. if this is happening you should tell and adult you trust, as its very creepy for someone to show a kid this stuff.
Adults should never touch a child in a sexual way, have sex with a child, or show them pornography. It is against the law. Adults know it is wrong so they might tell the child to keep it a secret. Sometimes it is a person the child knows & loves, a bigger kid or an adult. If it happens to you do not keep it a secret!! The adult has done the wrong thing, not you!! If someone does something or says something and you feel worried, or scared, or confused then its good to walk away, if you can, and later on TELL SOMEONE you trust. It is good to make a list of 5 adults you would go to if you needed help, were worried, or felt unsafe. Pick people who you think will act in an OK way and who will listen to you. Choose 5 people in case you cannot find the first person on your list, or if they do not believe you, you can go to another adult on the list.
If someone does something or says something and you feel worried, or scared, or confused ….
You have a right to say NO !
GO – get away as soon as you can !
TELL – tell someone that you trust !
It can be hard to say NO to an adult, especially if they are angry and scary. It can also be hard to GO.
But, you can always TELL, later.
It is OK and healthy for girls and boys to masturbate. Of course, it is a private thing, something to do when they are on their own and in a private place.
Also, a man’s semen (The stuff that spurts out of the penis when a male ejaculates), and a woman’s vaginal fluids (The wet stuff inside the vagina) can carry infections. Condoms catch the semen and stop vaginal fluids from touching the penis. Condoms also help people to not make babies.
Sex means different things to different people. People have different beliefs about when sex is ‘right’ for them. Some people want to be in love and know that they are loved back before they have sex, so that is good to wait for. Some people wait till they are married to have sex, and that’s an important decision that matters to them. Some people have sex because they like having sex and don’t need to be in love.
Sometimes a woman and man want to have sexual intercourse but don’t want a baby. The only sure way of not making a baby is to not have sexual intercourse. If a man and woman don’t want a baby they can use contraception, like condoms or the Pill. Sometimes people get pregnant and don’t want a baby. They might see a doctor about a termination.
Sometimes people find they are pregnant and do not want to have a baby. They might decide to go to a doctor and have an operation to end the pregnancy. This is called a termination, or an abortion. Having a termination is a hard decision to make, and can be very sad. It can also be a relief. If a woman has a termination she can still have a baby at another time. In some countries it is a woman’s right to decide to have a termination. It is against the law in some countries to have a termination.
Adoption can happen when a baby or child cannot be cared for by the mother who gave birth to them. The baby or child is taken into a new family to grow up with them. Legal papers are signed to say that the child now is a part of the new family.
There are some different ways to make a baby and different ways to make a family. Mum and dad and kids; grandma and grandchild; mums on their own with kids; dads on their own with kids; lesbian parents; and gay parents.