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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published May 21, 2009                                                         

10 questions kids ask
most about sex ed

Robert Crown Center educators say they deliver the science and leave the morals to the parents

  By Christine Cuthbert

   They’re questions almost every middle school or elementary school student ponders from time to time. A question like, “What’s an abortion?” can catch parents off guard while they’re driving in the car or cooking dinner.
   Sometimes kids hear terms like this from watching television or from their peers, and educators at the Robert Crown Center for Health Education are trying to do their best in explaining the anatomy behind uncomfortable topics.
   David Bedney, an educator with Robert Crown, said the goal of answering tough questions is giving students as much scientific knowledge as he can.
   “We give them the medical explanation and then send them back to mom and dad for further information,” he said. “A lot of the tough questions kids ask have moral or ethical issues that we don’t touch. It’s something that each family has their own beliefs on.”
   Bedney explains abortion as a spontaneous or elective thing. He explains miscarriage and how sometimes there is something wrong that causes the baby to not make it full term. He also points out there is elective abortion, but doesn’t go into detail as to why some women choose it.
   “I tell them how it’s like a space mission,” he said. “When a rocket is set to launch and the mission is aborted or stopped, it means it didn’t end up happening, kind of like when a baby doesn’t make it to birth.”
   Bedney keeps mum on the details of elective abortion because it’s one of the topics he believes is best explained by parents. Another question he’s recently been asked quite a bit is, “How can a man have a baby?”
   In 2008 Thomas Beatie, who was born a woman but had gender reassignment surgery, gave birth to a baby girl. Bedney said this has led many kids to wonder how it’s scientifically possible.
   “This is another one of those questions where I give them the medical explanation and send them back to their parents,” he said. “We do tell them that there are times when a person can choose medical procedures to live as the opposite gender, but that person was born a girl. Surprisingly they do very well with the information. We get a lot of, ‘Oh, that makes sense.’ ”
   While abortion and men giving birth are discussions that require layers of detail, for the most part kids in elementary and middle schools are interested in the birds and the bees and more straightforward questions. Other top questions asked by kids include:

Q: How do people have twins?

A: “I usually tell them there are two types of twins – fraternal and identical. The identical is when one sperm meets one egg and form one cell that then splits in half forming two identical babies. I explain fraternal twins as when two eggs are released in one month and two different sperms fertilize the eggs creating two different babies.”

 Q: How does the sperm get to the egg?

A: “We try to keep this one simple. We usually tell them when the husband and the wife perform the act of love, the husband deposits his sperm and the baby is created. We give them the basics but the parents may want to go deeper and explain the act of love.”

 Q: How does a big baby fit into a small uterus?

A: “We show them a plastic model of a uterus we have. We show them how small a baby really is when they start off. The size of the egg is really only the size of a grain of sand.”

Q: How do conjoined twins come about?

A: “I tell them about how the conjoined twins start off as identical twins, and somewhere in the process of the cells dividing, something goes wrong.”

Q: What happens with the rest of the sperm that doesn’t fertilize the egg?

A: “I explain to them that it usually dissolves and is absorbed in the mother’s body.”

Q: Can a woman have a period when she’s pregnant?

A: “I tell them the answer is no. I tell them there are only three times in a woman’s life where she won’t have a period. The first is before puberty when they’re young, the other is when they’re pregnant and the third is when she’s a little older and goes through menopause.”

Q: Why do girls have cramps?

A: “I explain to them that there are some special chemicals that allow the inner lining of the uterus to separate. The separation causes muscle contractions that cause the cramping.”

Q: Why does a baby cry when its born?

A: “I tell them the doctor doesn’t have to pick up the baby and smack them to make them cry and they usually get a laugh from that. When the baby’s head pops out they’ll suction out the nostrils and the mouth and the baby takes its first breath. That’s when it starts crying. The baby’s been inside the mom and it’s been dark and cozy and all of a sudden it’s bright and there’s all kinds of people fussing. The baby is starting to breath on its own.”


       Making a Difference is a yearlong partnership between The Hinsdalean
and the Robert Crown Center for Health Education, which works
to teach and motivate youth to lead healthy, happy and safe lives.




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