When is it appropriate to teach children about HIV AIDS?

A note came home from school last week informing parents that the children would be receiving instruction in HIV AIDS. This is a part of our society and it’s something everyone needs to learn about in health and how to avoid it. However I’m not sure that teaching it to elementary children from kindergarten up is really appropriate.In my opinion, 5 year olds have no reason to know anything about it. I would think that middle school health would be soon enough to teach about these topics. The note gives the opportunity to opt out of the lessons if you feel you don’t want your child participating but that creates its own problems with the children being excluded. When this first came home last year, I spoke to the middle school assistant principal to find out exactly what was being taught as I wasn’t sure I wanted Grand Master D even discussing it at 10. After an in depth conversation, I decided the content for that age group was ok and when I spoke to his teacher she said she really skimmed over most of it because she found it uncomfortable to teach anyway.
While I certainly agree with educating the community about at risk behavior, I worry that we’re exposing our children to too much, too soon. We shouldn’t be in any rush to take away children’s innocence by giving them adult information too early. The world can be a nasty place, why would we tell little children that! They’ll learn it soon enough.

So Miss Gremlin had her first HIV AIDS lesson today. When I picked her up the teacher came to see me and said Miss Gremlin had some questions that were more appropriate for me to answer. Her questions were beyond what the teacher was allowed to say. So I had to answer her. Let’s just say it was an educational walk home 🙂  For both of us.

There are other situations that I think we need to shield our children until we’re ready to answer the tough questions, not just about HIV AIDS. I remember riding the subway with the children when Grand Master D was about 7 and just getting proficient with reading. We were riding a car that had some ads that had adult content. As we’re riding Grand Master D says “mum what’s impotence?” as that’s what the ad was about and he figured out the word. Now not being one to worry about the curly questions too much, I always answer honestly with the amount of information I think they can handle. Hmm how should I handle this one? Wait until later or explain it right there on the subway with everyone around. I decided to just answer it for him right there…. How to answer, well I just gave him the 7 year old version of the truth. Those sort of things I believe are best answered truthfully, that way it can’t come back to bite you later. I’ve heard some pretty funny stories over the years of people telling different versions of the truth.

Even watching television these days has it’s problems. If you watch the 6 o’clock news at night then you have to explain things like erectile disfunction, contraception and periods.  Surely those ads can air later on in the evening. Unfortunately advertisers and tv stations are more concerned with profit than looking out for the innocence of children.

I switched to the 11pm news. It was just easier and less annoying. Those ads are just too much. Some things just don’t need to be advertised.

Unfortunately the choice of what our children are exposed to, although ultimately ours, is eroded by mainstream media and the government bodies who decide school curriculum. We can fight it by turning the tv off and protecting them as best we can. You are given options at school to opt out of anything you and your family disagree with.

Don’t worry when the curly questions come, just take a deep breath and do the best you can. There’s no right way to answer, I guess you assess each situation and question as it comes. You know your child best and what they can handle. What’s the worst that can happen???  Lets face it, we all need stuff to tell our therapists 🙂



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