Children need to learn about their body parts, including private body parts and their correct names
Apart from having a better understanding about their own body, how it feels, how they grow, how they move, the differences between boy’s and girl’s bodies, they can also identify
- if something is sore, or feels out of the ordinary.
- when it is ok for someone to touch your private body parts, and when it is not ok.
- equally they can learn when it is ok/not ok to touch someone else’s body parts
Children should be learning about body parts from a very early age. If they learn ‘penis’ and ‘vagina’ at the same time as ‘hands, feet, head’ etc, children will not see these words as any different. They are not sexual or embarrassing to a child, they are just the correct biological terms. If children know the correct words it is easier for them to communicate that they are sore, or where someone has touched them. Children can still have ‘pet names’ for private body parts as long as they know the correct terms. If a child has limited vocabulary, or communication difficulties, too many words can be confusing. It is then better to just have the one correct name.
Parents have the advantage of talking about body parts at bedtime and bathtime when they help their child get washed. Parents can also use clothes to discuss what to wear over body parts, including private body parts, and when it is ok to show someone your private body parts or be naked. Most young people have better learning experiences at home, looking at and touching their own bodies.
All young people need to learn the correct names and differences in boys and girls before they can learn about puberty and body changes.
It is important to discuss in advance with young people the changes to their body that will take place during puberty and adolescence, especially those with autism who can find it difficult to deal with changes generally. .It can help reduce worries and anxieties if they are aware that these changes happen to everyone and have someone to talk to.
Teaching about Body Parts as part of the Health and Wellbeing outcomes should be received by all students.
For younger pupils giant body outlines (drawn round a child) and names of the body parts for a girl, and body parts for a boy can be duplicated at home.
For pupils who require more factual information the BBC Science website provides some clear factual images and information about the human body, some of which is interactive.