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Sex education: Should it be taught in schools?

post #1 of 115
Thread Starter 
My daughter had something kind of like sex ed last year (5th grade) but it was an abstinence only education program and seemed pretty useless to me. I've been researching UCC and UU churches to find if one has a program going on for her age group that they do - Their sex ed program is called OWL for Our Whole Lives.

What does your school do, and do you think they should do less or more? My personal feeling is that schools should teach more because kids need to know this stuff and many kids don't hear about it otherwise, and it can help prevent teen pregnancies.
post #2 of 115
Our schools just teach about puberty. I think they should do a more thorough program such as the Planned Parenthood many districts do. We did a more thorough puberty class through PP and we will do the sex ed one there when she is old enough.
post #3 of 115

It's a long process in our district. They start with puberty stuff in 4th and 5th grade. They have yearly sex ed units 6th through 8th... each year getting more detailed. Example, 4th grade, straight puberty of your own sexes body. 6th grade focuses on how babies are conceived/develop/born. By 7th grade they know all the diseases, major forms of contraception, ect. In 8th, they are carrying around egg babies.

 

Our district (as do most) offer viewings of all the material and discussion... we went before 4th grade and 6th grade with our eldest and there were only 2 other families represented from the whole district. Like us, they felt positively about sex-ed but felt good parents should be aware of what was going on.

 

One year, a parent (who didn't bother to go to the info night) freaked out and got sex-ed pushed back a few months because she didn't want her 13-year-old seeing a drawing of a penis. I don't know why she didn't just opt out which is totally legal in our district and an option given in writing to all parents (and they send you letters in the mail, through the child, downloadable on the website and through email.)

post #4 of 115

I don't know whether or not I'm for them teaching more. But I wish they would stop teaching abstinence only education. I think that a full sex ed program could be done with the by product of more kids choosing waiting until they are ready/abstinence through school/teen years if taught correctly.

My oldest child isn't at the sex ed talk age yet. But she's coming up on it and I'm already thinking about what *more* I can tell her and before she has the "grade 5" talk.

She has never been interested in the subject so she only knows a little bit based on what she's asked. But she's becoming more curious and I'm personally a bit worried about what the school will be teaching her in this department vs what I want her to know. 

post #5 of 115

Yes. Abstinence only is not sex ed, that is a religious or cultural teaching. Sex ed should include sex.

 

What it is, how you do it, with whom, what the consequences are, other forms of prevention, pregnancy and birth, std's. Sorry, I really think the states is going backwards if this is the "education" the kids are getting. 

 

It should be in schools as a safety net for those parents who do not take care of the discussions. Because it isn't one discussion, one talk at age 8 or 10 or 15 or whenever, it is a bunch of different 2-way discussions at various times and ages. Ultimately it is the parents responsibility to explain this all to their children. I'd rather they hear it from me, then only from a 3rd party, or their friends who heard it from who knows where. But the school should also cover it, as a safety net, for those kids who do not hear it at home. Or only hear about abstinance. 

 

Personally I was raised Roman Catholic, so no sex talks at all. My mom decided to talk to me when I was 18, off in college, and had a boyfriend of 1.5 years. A bit late. When she found out I was on the pill (thank you planned parenthood), she wept - literally. She was bawling and saying how awful it was, because now I was obviously sleeping with tons of people. Maybe 5 or 10. At the same time! Being on the pill meant I must be doing that. My father said I was damaged chattel - "No man will ever have you now." I tell you the birth control pill was one of the most terrible experiences of my parents life. My kids - you bet I have swung around 180 degrees. 

post #6 of 115

I'm sorry for those of you who had bad experiences with religion and a lack of sex ed, but that is not the case for all people of faith.  We are Roman Catholic and we talk very openly and frankly to our children about sex.  We teach abstinence and we teach that birth control is a sin for Catholics.  That said, we also teach grace and forgiveness.  They know they could come to us even if they make a mistake. 

 

Abstinence is not just a religious thing.  There are serious psychological and emotional, even physical consequences to sex at a young age.  I think it is insane and irresponsible to teach 15 and 16 year olds how to have "safe sex".   People who are not religious are quick to object to prayer in school.  So why is it okay to teach something that is in direct violation of the religious views of millions of people. 

post #7 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by LauraCH View Post

There are serious psychological and emotional, even physical consequences to sex at a young age. I think it is insane and irresponsible to teach 15 and 16 year olds how to have "safe sex".   

 

Statistically nations that do comprehensive teaching to their young people about "safe sex" have vastly lower teen pregnancy rates, considerably lower abortion rates, and considerably lower HIV rates than the US. What about the serious psychological, emotional and physical consequences of all those pregnancies, abortions and STDs?

 

I feel quite strongly about this. Fifteen years ago I helped organize and staff a sex education / contraception / STD treatment clinic in my area of rural BC Canada. Our rates of STIs, abortions and teen pregnancy all dropped from highest quartile in the province to lowest quartile, and have stayed there. I highly doubt that more kids here are having sex now: what's happening is that they are doing so without a lot of the negative repercussions because they are empowered to protect themselves. 

 

Miranda 

post #8 of 115

An interesting chart ... The Average Age of First Intercourse, by country.

 

Interestingly, with the notable exception of Scandinavia, many countries that have far more safe sex education than the US (Spain, Canada, Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, South Africa) have populations that are on average older than Americans when they first start having sex.

 

Miranda

post #9 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by LauraCH View Post

I'm sorry for those of you who had bad experiences with religion and a lack of sex ed, but that is not the case for all people of faith.  We are Roman Catholic and we talk very openly and frankly to our children about sex.  We teach abstinence and we teach that birth control is a sin for Catholics.  That said, we also teach grace and forgiveness.  They know they could come to us even if they make a mistake. 

 

Abstinence is not just a religious thing.  There are serious psychological and emotional, even physical consequences to sex at a young age.  I think it is insane and irresponsible to teach 15 and 16 year olds how to have "safe sex".   People who are not religious are quick to object to prayer in school.  So why is it okay to teach something that is in direct violation of the religious views of millions of people. 

 

Actually, the vast majority of the U.S. is religiously oriented and prayer in school continues to be something the majority doesn't want... and for good reason. You want prayer in school than you better not freak out when the muslums and pagans start doing their rituals in the middle of class. 

 

I'm not against teaching abstinence and the value of waiting until adulthood. Your moral views on sex and birth control are great topics to discuss at home. We should all be talking about the emotional connects and consequences of sex. However, sex is also a biological function of the bodies we all inhabit. We should understand the science behind it including pregnancy, disease and how to protect against it... abstinence being one of several methods.

 

There is a ton of research that shows time and again that abstinence only sex-education results in higher teen pregnancy rates.

 

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/04/10/461402/teen-pregnancy-sex-education/

post #10 of 115

My daughters are 3 and 1.5, so my views are subject to change as they age, but I feel an "Abstinence only" sex ed program is lacking. Not because I am a firm believer in "they are going to have sex, so make teach them safe sex", ect, but because I don't want them asking their questions to google image when they are so young and innocent... I plan on having the kind of relationship with my daughters where they feel comfortable asking me anything, but in the event that they don't I'd rather them have the options to get their questions answered via a teacher who has been trained in handling them verses the internet... 

All that being said, I'm just going to homeschool and not let them date until they're 30.. Haha. 

post #11 of 115
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LauraCH View Post

I'm sorry for those of you who had bad experiences with religion and a lack of sex ed, but that is not the case for all people of faith.  We are Roman Catholic and we talk very openly and frankly to our children about sex.  We teach abstinence and we teach that birth control is a sin for Catholics.  That said, we also teach grace and forgiveness.  They know they could come to us even if they make a mistake. 

Abstinence is not just a religious thing.  There are serious psychological and emotional, even physical consequences to sex at a young age.  I think it is insane and irresponsible to teach 15 and 16 year olds how to have "safe sex".   People who are not religious are quick to object to prayer in school.  So why is it okay to teach something that is in direct violation of the religious views of millions of people. 

The idea isn't that kids would start having sex, and it seems like I've read that kids who get complete sex ed actually wait longer to have sex. The idea is to give them the information before they have sex, and since we don't actually have complete control over when that will be, to tell them early enough to reach them before that.
post #12 of 115

Abstinence is not just a religious thing, however it is tightly connected with religious organization who push for it's exclusive inclusion in public education to the exclusion of science based curriculum. 

 

There. I fixed it for you. 

post #13 of 115

Yes, I think sex education has a place in the curriculum. I find it's mostly information on basic heterosexual biology and pregnancy/disease prevention. I think there is a lot lacking in terms of addressing healthy romantic relationships, consent, LGBT awareness, sexting, and really anything at all complicated. 

post #14 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

Yes, I think sex education has a place in the curriculum. I find it's mostly information on basic heterosexual biology and pregnancy/disease prevention. I think there is a lot lacking in terms of addressing healthy romantic relationships, consent, LGBT awareness, sexting, and really anything at all complicated. 

Yes. There is much room for discussion in schools about the reality of sex. The morality issues should be taught at home. 

 

My beliefs regarding teen sex, like many of my other beliefs, are pretty radical. I think the teen years are exactly the RIGHT time to experiment with sex. Not when you are married, have children and responsibilities. Learning to be safe about this can only be a good thing. My children have grown up with this idea, yet at 17 and 18, my youngest 2 are still virgins. And that's OK too.

post #15 of 115

Where I live, they teach too much, too soon.  My fiance's then 2nd grader shouldn't have been taught at that age how to put a banana on a condom and my then 15 year old should not have been taught about... can I say this on here or is it against the rules?  Let's just say, when your 9th grader tells you about f*sting, there's something wrong with the system.  shake.gif  I do think, if the parents already have it covered, they should have the option to opt out of having the schools teach the child.  Someone said something about "where else are they gonna get the information".  Ummm... in most case, their parents?

post #16 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

Yes, I think sex education has a place in the curriculum. I find it's mostly information on basic heterosexual biology and pregnancy/disease prevention. I think there is a lot lacking in terms of addressing healthy romantic relationships, consent, LGBT awareness, sexting, and really anything at all complicated. 

Where do you live?  They give information that's... so much more... were I live.  What you're talking about, providing you're talking teen years, not early elementary school age, is pretty acceptable, in my opinion.

post #17 of 115

I think it is really, really important it be taught, and fairly early. Yes it needs to be age appropriate but good quality sex ed is a really vital part of keeping kids safe.

 

I think for younger kids, especially in an institutional setting, it needs to be taught mainly in terms of what is and what is not acceptable, and the focus should be on the emotional side, but it certainly needs to be on the curriculum.

 

One thing I also feel strongly about is that if you are going to teach about heterosexual sex, some mention also needs to be made of same-sex sex. Its not right that LGBT kids do not get the same access to sex education as other kids, and that is the current situation mainly. Its also really not good because it promotes the idea of heterosexual sex as the normative baseline. LBGT kids also need exactly the same education about abuse in relationships, saying no, and all the rest as straight kids, and expilicitly including them is a good thing (I'm sure that there are programs that do this and I applaud them)

 

Kids are going to get this information from somewhere. I think, if not a parent, then a teacher is usually a good person to do this, especially given the other options.

post #18 of 115

I think it is really, really important it be taught, and fairly early. Yes it needs to be age appropriate but good quality sex ed is a really vital part of keeping kids safe.

 

I think for younger kids, especially in an institutional setting, it needs to be taught mainly in terms of what is and what is not acceptable, and the focus should be on the emotional side, but it certainly needs to be on the curriculum.

 

One thing I also feel strongly about is that if you are going to teach about heterosexual sex, some mention also needs to be made of same-sex sex. Its not right that LGBT kids do not get the same access to sex education as other kids, and that is the current situation mainly. Its also really not good because it promotes the idea of heterosexual sex as the normative baseline. LBGT kids also need exactly the same education about abuse in relationships, saying no, and all the rest as straight kids, and expilicitly including them is a good thing (I'm sure that there are programs that do this and I applaud them)

 

You are not going to change a kid's sexual orientation with sex ed. If you have a kid who is gay, you basically have two choices. Either you give them the information they need, and in such a way that their peers also accept it as a normal and not-exotic or weird thing. Or you deny them this information, either intentionally, or simply by only talking about heterosexual situations, and you still have a gay kid but one who is miserable, potentially doesn't know about safe sex and/or at risk of partner abuse because they haven't had targeted information. 

 

To my mind the same really applies to straight teenagers. They are going to have sex, most teenagers do. The issue is more the culture in which this tends to occur for teenagers is not really an accepting, non-coercive one, especially for girls. So you can give them the information they need to make it as safe, as consensual and as positive as possible. You can make sure that they know that sleeping around is a bad idea in terms of STDs, and what to do if they have put themselves at risk. You can give them a vocabulary to extricate themselves from situations and you can tell them what adult life looks like, that this little high school bubble of needing to be accepted really doesn't last. But telling them to say no or wait til marriage doesn't work, and doesn't give them the information they need to live their actual lives as safely as possible. And its a bonus that, where non judgmental, information based programs exist, STD and teenage pregnancy rates tend to be lower and age of first intercourse higher. 

 

I don't know why a 9th grader should not know about fisting (why is that not something we can talk about? I'll put a little asterix in if that helps anyone ROTFLMAO.gif). A 9th grader is 14/15, right? That doesn't seem to me to be too young to know about this and I'd guess a lot of kids of that age do. Sure I did.It doesn't seem like the most out there sexual practice to me, especially given that 50 Shades of Grey (a crime against literature IMO) is available in every bookshop right now at kid eye level.  I'm wondering if, assuming it came from a teacher not the school yard, it might have been an answer to a question another kid asked, in which case I'm all for giving honest answers. 


Edited by Fillyjonk - 8/23/13 at 4:15am
post #19 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by kblackstone444 View Post

Where I live, they teach too much, too soon.  My fiance's then 2nd grader shouldn't have been taught at that age how to put a banana on a condom and my then 15 year old should not have been taught about... can I say this on here or is it against the rules?  Let's just say, when your 9th grader tells you about f*sting, there's something wrong with the system.  shake.gif  I do think, if the parents already have it covered, they should have the option to opt out of having the schools teach the child.  Someone said something about "where else are they gonna get the information".  Ummm... in most case, their parents?

 

I think it's ideal for parents to speak frankly and openly with their children and provide them with accurate, reliable information and resources. I also think there is merit in having multiple sources of reliable information, to allow conversations that present different viewpoints and clarify information, and provide answers to questions that someone else asks that a child hasn't thought of or isn't brave enough to ask themselves. So I'm not entirely sure that I agree with an "opt out", if the parents have made the decision for their children to attend school. OTOH, I support parental input on a lot of other curriculum issues, so I might be open to a charge of hypocrisy here, hmmmm. 

 

In any case, I don't think it would be effective to opt out. It's not like your child will opt out of the school yard talk that's going to happen after the class discussion. They may as well hear it first-hand without miscommunications, poor translations and rumours. 


Edited by ollyoxenfree - 8/23/13 at 7:35am
post #20 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by kblackstone444 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

Yes, I think sex education has a place in the curriculum. I find it's mostly information on basic heterosexual biology and pregnancy/disease prevention. I think there is a lot lacking in terms of addressing healthy romantic relationships, consent, LGBT awareness, sexting, and really anything at all complicated. 

Where do you live?  They give information that's... so much more... were I live.  What you're talking about, providing you're talking teen years, not early elementary school age, is pretty acceptable, in my opinion.

 

Interesting. My dc moved a fair amount during the middle school and high school years and we lived overseas for awhile. It's possible that they missed some of the more involved stuff. My impression was always that they were getting rudimentary biological information and not much else, but perhaps they kept leaving the schools and moving away before the curriculum reached a point where the more complicated stuff was addressed. 

 

I am happy that they finished up in a high school with a significant and politically active LGBT student population. Many of the LGBT students feel comfortable in a school for the first time in their lives. I find that the level of acceptance, and hence the level of open discussion, means that there is better, more reliable information and support for the entire student population. 

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