The Price of Innocence: Teachers, Gender, Childhood Sexuality, HIV and AIDS in Early Schooling

Author: Deevia Bhana
Created: 2007
Country South Africa
Organisation University of KwaZulu-Natal
Type Journal Article
Format pdf
Extent 15 pages
Original Publication
Publication International Journal of Inclusive Education
Drawing on interviews with Grade 2 teachers working in a black working-class township school, this paper explores the meanings that teachers attach to HIV and AIDS education. It is argued that the relationship of many teachers to the subject of HIV and AIDS is inscribed within regulatory forces based on the notion of childhood sexual innocence, one that upholds and constructs a particular version of childhood that is racialised, ‘classed’ and gendered. Despite the urgency of addressing young children’s right to HIV and AIDS education, teaching discourses mobilise a notion of innocence that culminates in fear and anxiety around expressions of sexuality in early childhood. The paper shows that while teachers’ constructions of childhood are formidable, they are not irreversible, since teachers point in contradictory ways to young children’s sexual agency.
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