Disgruntled parents have raised concerns about a “graphic” sex book targeted at children as young as eight being sold at Big W.
Dr Melissa Kang and Yumi Stynes’ book, Welcome to Sex: Your no-silly-questions guide to sexuality, pleasure and figuring it out, released in May, is billed as a “frank, age-appropriate introductory guide to sex and sexuality for teens of all genders”.
But the Woolworths-owned department store has come under fire after an Instagram video from podcast host Chris Primod showing some of the book’s pages went viral.
Critics have argued the content is far too mature for its intended readership.
“Why is Big W selling this GRAPHIC SEX GUIDE FOR KIDS in Aus which includes how-tos for anal/oral sex, masturbation & heavily pushes gender ideology?” Rachael Wong, chief executive of Women’s Forum Australia, wrote on Twitter, sharing the video.
“Co-author [Yumi Stynes] says the book is for 10-15 yo but she’d ‘be happy with a mature 8-yo having a flick through’.”
The book, on sale for $5, contains detailed explanations behind sexual activities including oral sex, fingering, anal sex, scissoring, hand jobs, porn, sexuality and gender identity.
Reviews for the product on Big W’s site have been turned off after it had earlier been bombarded with negative feedback, prompting a response from the retailer’s customer service team defending it as “educational, age-appropriate and inclusive”.
Stynes and Dr Kang have been contacted for comment.
In response to Ms Wong’s post, some social media users branded the book “disgraceful”.
“They have no right to interfere with parental rights, not to indoctrinate children,” one response read.
“Shamelessly destroying young lives. It would be a crime in any civilised society. Sadly, there aren’t any of those anymore,” another complained.
Someone else suggested the book was attempting to “sexualise” people prematurely.
“I’ve seen kids on their own perusing the book section in Big W. Younger kids could easily ‘have a flick through’ this book. Why do they want to sexualise children? It doesn’t take Einstein to figure that one out,” they wrote.
In an Instagram post promoting the release, Stynes explained the book’s purpose was to begin teaching children about sex and consent at a young age to combat the “putrid effects of porn on real-world sex”.
“I like to think of it as a bit like the book L-platers read before hitting the road,” she wrote.
“It is a book for young ones who aren’t necessarily practising any partnered sexual activities but who are curious enough to Google – and whose parents would prefer this early (and influential!) info come from legitimate and researched sources who understand exactly who their audience is — rather than the unbounded limitlessness of the internet.
“YES, it’s frank, and YES, it talks about stuff that parents might find embarrassing. Research shows that kids don’t necessarily want to talk about sex with their parents. It’s common. But parents? I hope this is a reassuring resource that you can slap down on your kid’s desk feeling confident that this info is setting them up for safer, happier lives.”
Her post received a mixed reaction — some parents couldn’t wait to purchase a copy for their children, while others vowed to campaign against retailers that stocked the book.
“What 10-year-old needs to learn about this? What planet are you living on?” one critic wrote, with another commenting that it was “not age appropriate at all for our little ones”.
Meanwhile, others could not have been more excited.
“Can’t wait to purchase this. Your period book took away the fear for my 10-year-old daughter (and me!) so much. Forever grateful,” one parent wrote.
“Ohhh congratulations! I recommend this series all the time,” another said.
A spokesperson for Big W defended the retailer’s decision to stock the product, disputing claims the book was inappropriate for children.
“Big W has a wide range of books and products that represent a diverse Australian community,” the spokesperson said.
“Welcome to Sex is an educational, age-appropriate and inclusive book featuring content from adolescent health experts that matches the development and early experiences of teens aged 12-15. It is shelved in parenting in our books section so parents can make their own decisions on what is appropriate for their family.”
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