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Sex Ed Resources

June 15, 2006; Page D2

Should four-year-olds learn the facts of life?

An increasing number of parents are dealing with sex education at home — often long before it comes up in the classroom. And now, parents can turn to a wave of books and videos to help address the subject with small kids, some even as young as four.

“The trick is to find out from the kid what they really want to know,” says Dr. Charles Shubin, who teaches pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. He recommends that parents choose sex-ed materials that are age-appropriate and that they review all books and videos carefully before showing them to their children. Here are some resources:

Book: “But How’d I Get in There in the First Place?” by Deborah M. Roffman
Price/Publisher: $14 (paperback); Perseus Publishing
Comment: Ms. Roffman — who teaches sex education at schools in Baltimore — thinks parents shouldn’t always wait until a child asks to bring up the topic of sex. Published in 2002 and aimed at parents of children under seven years old, her book gives straight-forward advice.

Book: “Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know about Sex (But Were Afraid They’d Ask)” by Justin Richardson, M.D., and Mark A. Schuster, M.D., Ph.D.
Price/Publisher: $14.95 (paperback); Three Rivers Press
Comment: This book explains in depth a child’s sexual development, the emotions a parent may experience as a child changes and how to talk to the child about sex. Topics include nudity at home, a child’s sexual orientation, abstinence and dealing with sexually active adolescents.

Book: “It’s Not the Stork” by Robie H. Harris
Price/Publisher: $16.99; Candlewick Press
Comment: “It’s Not the Stork,” which will be published next month, is aimed at kids as young as four years old. Many parents will like this book’s direct approach, but some may feel it offers too much too soon.

Book: “Where Did I Come From?” by Peter Mayle
Price/Publisher: $9.95 (paperback); Kensington Publishing
Comment: Originally published in 1973, more than two million copies of this sex-ed book have been sold in the U.S. The cartoon-style drawings are child-friendly, if a bit cheesy. In one, a sperm wears a top hat.

DVDs: “The Birds, the Bees, and Me”
Price/Publisher: $19.95; National Training Organization for Child Care Providers
Comment: These 20-minute DVD videos — there’s one aimed at girls and one aimed at boys — use cartoons, diagrams and college-age narrators in an attempt to make young children comfortable with topic of sex. They cover basic information about the changes a body goes through during puberty, sexual intercourse and how a “baby” — note, not a fetus — grows in a woman’s body. There is also a strong abstinence message.

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