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Primary school kids and sexual content: then vs now

Sketch by the child, aged 8 (inspired by my old concept for a beer label)


Sex Ed for primary school kids is a tough topic, with a huge difference between sexual content available now and when I was a child. Then, there was tame ’70s TV, compared to the sexually and graphically violent shows at our fingertips now. In primary school my mother got me books on ‘changes in your body’, so I couldn’t just check out someone’s private parts on my phone. Most of what I gleaned about sex was via the secret reading of cliterature.


Primary school

My first taste of sexual content was aged nine, when I sneak-read my parents’ James Hadley Chase paperbacks. 

It didn’t make me promiscuous, potty-mouthed or dress like Lolita. Instead, I remained shy and cloistered up until I went to a convent high school for girls where I remained shy and cloistered. At my first job I was named and shamed on the noticeboard for not knowing what a ‘BJ’ was at 23. A Polaroid of me eating a banana was also my first foray into sexual harassment. But that’s another story.


High school

My biggest involvement with boys was a bunch of us blowing kisses and waving at young army guys en route to Wynberg from the back seat of the school bus. Pathetic maybe, but sweet and innocent too. Hence total disgust when I overheard some senior girls talking about ‘naai’-ing* in the loo. Sex Ed was a nun teaching us, and some smartass classmate bombarding her with questions on masturbation. 

And then I did some research.



Today I am the owner of the filthiest mind north of the Labia – stylishly honed on illicit childhood reading. This included my young uncle’s Scope magazines plus my mother’s ‘Everywoman’ gynae book (from whence I’d copy line drawings of couples in flagrante). While studying graphic design at Michaelis I discovered reams of photographic books at the library that made me appreciate the beauty of naked humans without the awkwardness of being in the same room.


My child

My husband made me hide all my erotic literature after our daughter started asking “What are they doing, mommy?”. I also removed the Cosmos and GQs from the loo reading pile after she said “Why are they kissing on the lips? Are they married?”. She was six. He’s right. We didn’t need to have the talk just yet.


Kids today

Most magazines for twenty something women are filled with fashion, make-up, sex and schlebs. Is this really all females need to know? I feel for my daughter growing up with cyber trolls, violent bullies, instant access to porn and rampant sexual predators. It’s a far cry from me giggling at someone’s older brother’s porn comic in the primary school toilet to today’s kids filming their schoolmate’s rape for likes.


Kids and sex – now vs then

Kids today are having sexual experiences as young as nine. Lord help us all! I don’t even know what’s changed from my childhood until now. Surely porn is still porn whether it’s available on your cell phone or you read it in a smutty paperback in nineteen foot sack? But why didn’t reading porn then make me stop respecting myself or showing gynaecological self portraits to strangers?

Sons and daughters need to be reared with the same values because all genders deserve equal respect and consideration. Too many children are left to do as they please instead of being given a snotklap* or punished when they misbehave. Sex education in primary schools should lead to better lifestyle choices and might even reduce incidents of abuse if the child is aware of their rights. Ignorance is never bliss because knowledge always empowers.

Is it nature vs nurture? I’m simply a mother who wishes for her daughter to stand firm in a festering world. If she wants to know about sex and doesn’t necessarily want me to talk about it, I have an age-appropriate book for her. If she wants to check out my stash of adult literature when she’s older, that’s ok, at least she’ll be reading a book. A dirty, sharp mind with a pure, strong heart sounds like a decent human being to me…

*Glossary of South Africanisms:

1) naai (nigh): f..k

2) snotklap (snawt-klupp): literally ‘snot smack’, slap face (until snot runs)