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How to talk to primary kids about gender, sex and porn

Increased exposure of children to sexually explicit material and the difficulties which parents and primary carers can have in knowing how to respond has sparked a new book series for primary school students, covering big topics such as pornography and gender.

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Birds and Bees By The Book is a six-part series by Patricia Weerakoon, a sought-after Australian sexologist, author, and speaker. For the past five years, Weerakoon has been speaking with youth groups, parents groups, churches and schools about a wide range of sexual matters. Like Melbourne author and mother Emily Olivia who last year published Put A Lid On It – also an illustrated resource of sex education for children – Weerakoon was prompted to write her book series after spotting some concerning trends emerging.

“I have noticed an increasing drift towards younger and younger children being exposed to sexualised material in the form of TV, social media, internet, music videos, comics and advertising,” says Weerakoon, who recently contributed to Eternity’s investigative documentary Pornography: The Elephant in the Church.

Weerakoon points out that she has also experienced increased parental concern about broaching subjects such as pornography and the introduction of gender fluidity conversations at schools.

She says parents are concerned about “how they should discuss the issue of same-sex parenting, transgender, and same-sex attraction at primary school age.”

“Parents have repeatedly asked for a resource for younger kids!” – Patricia Weerakoon

Even though Weerakoon has already published a book for 10-14 year olds, Growing Up By The Book, and a book for adolescents over 15 (Teen Sex By The Book), she says that “parents have repeatedly asked for a resource for younger kids!”

The six-book series is targeted at ages 7-10 and provides an “age-appropriate, biblical, Christ-focused view of the body, brain, identity and sex, for parents and carers to read with children.”

“Research reveals that early sexuality education from parents and primary carers influences children’s values and attitudes to relationships and sex,” explains Weerakoon. “It can reduce the likelihood of sexual risk-taking behaviour, protect against sexual abuse and benefit healthy sexual development.”

The books are designed to be read by children with a parent or carer. “We also provide a web resource for parents with a background to each topic and activities they can do with the children.”

According to Weerakoon, the books can be used in two ways: Proactive and reactive sex education. To be proactive, Weerakoon recommends setting apart time to discuss issues with children adn having a “special” place to read with them. “Some parents report that this ‘special’ place becomes the ‘go to’ place, when the child has something difficult or sensitive to discuss.”

The Birds and Bees books also can be used for reactive sex education, in response to a question or situation. Weerakoon suggests asking children questions such as, “Where did you hear that?” “What do you know about it?” and  “What do you think it means?”

Like last year’s Put a Lid on It, the Birds and Bees series is sensitively illustrated. “We wanted the books to appeal to a cross section of our readers,” says Weerakoon about the approach she took with illustrator Lisa Flanagan. “That is why we use children of different ethnicities and differing family backgrounds.”

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Birds and Bees by the Book

Patricia Weerakoon

Available from Koorong

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