Naps and Sex Ed?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," March 20, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: There is a program now underway in New York City public schools to teach students about the virus that causes AIDS. Good so far, but these students in particular are in kindergarten. Is that really the right age to learn about AIDS?

Joining us now is former sex crimes prosecutor Wendy Murphy.

So I understand this concept of scaring kids straight. But, I have only heard it really in the context of teenagers. What are they thinking here telling kindergartners about AIDS?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR: You know, I think it's a rhetorical question. I don't understand the point of this at all. I don't know how scary it is because 4 year olds, 5 year olds don't know what AIDS is. And they have no need to know.

But I do think it is unnecessary and it is inherently sexual. There's no question that when a 5 year old starts to talk with family or friends about learning about AIDS you're necessarily going to bump up against a 12 or a 13 year old who's going to start a conversation about sexual things. That's not an acceptable age to start to talk about things that are inherently sexual and things about which the kid has absolutely no need to know.

But, you know what, John? I have a 4 year old. She is getting ready to go into kindergarten. I want her to know that it's a good idea to wash her hands and to think about not getting sick and to share germs. She was singing a Barney song just about this issue, washing the germs and so forth. I don't want to really scare you with my singing.

But the bottom line is I didn't have any urge to say, "And, dear, what germs would you be washing?" Because she doesn't have to know.

GIBSON: Wendy, I'm sure the argument here is that kids later don't take in the message. They resist it. And that you've got to get them while they're really impressionable and they can be frightened.

I mean, I've heard stories about parents not being able to take their kid now to the doctor because these little kids get so scared of needles. That if a doctor wants to give them an actual shot for something they need, they've been told needles, needles, needles to the point they are afraid of a needle at the doctor's office. But maybe it's effective. Maybe that's a good thing.

MURPHY: Well, look, there are some things kids should be afraid of, like predatory pedophiles and the next-door neighbor with a record. But being afraid of something they can't understand makes no sense. I mean, I suppose they should be afraid of Ebola and meningitis and gonorrhea, too, but that can't possibly be explained to a 5 year old. So it makes no sense to them about the word AIDS or the word HIV.

Again, I am happy to have kids understand the benefits of washing their hands and being healthy, but it serves absolutely no purpose and in fact it engages them in I think a highly sexual potential conversation with a host of people with whom they will have contact, family, friends, neighbors and so forth, which means it's far more likely to do harm than good.

GIBSON: Wendy Murphy. The story is New York City public schools teaching kindergartners about AIDS. Wendy, thanks very much.

MURPHY: You bet.

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