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Should Children Be Taught Death Education?

Update Date: Feb 28, 2017 09:20 AM EST

Death education is all about dealing with end of life. One doctor is going to schools to prepare high school students on what to expect. However, some parents may not totally agree with the concept, just like with sex education.

Dr. Jessica Zitter, a critical care and palliative medical doctor in Highland Hospital, Oakland, California, is doing rounds teaching education to high school students. Due to the nature of her work, she is often confronted with sick and dying patients. People who are affected, like family, friends and even the patient himself, is always unprepared. She first made her talk in front of ninth graders in Oakland.

Zitter has also talked about sex education to children several years ago when nobody wants to do it. Now, she wanted to give death education so she can be honest and not talk about it in a euphemistic way.

Zitters goal is to educate people children whom she sees at the bed side of dying grandparents. She wants to equip people on their decision whether or not they want the patients to continue using life-prolonging machines.

Death education is not the same as physician-assisted suicide; rather it is a physician-assisted death. Children can expect basic understanding on the phenomenon of death.

During the death education talk, children were initially nonchalant about the topic death education. For them it was no big deal thinking that as people live, they will eventually die. However, when Zitter made them understand that dying is not just a moment, but can be a protracted period of time, the children began asking questions.

Some parents or guardians may be hesitant to talk about death education to their children. However, Zitter believes that, thought the topic may be sensitive. There will be a time when families have to confront death. By that time, it may be too late as members of the family involved are not prepared.

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