« No touching allowed | Main | Making scents »

Abstinence-only education

| 4 Comments

Thirty years ago, as a nurse in Taiwan, my mother taught women how to use condoms and other forms of birth control. However that didn't help her initiate an open dialogue with me about sex, contraception or STDs. Everything I knew about reproduction and STDs until I was 13 was from the middle school gym teacher. And while 13 is young, I knew what gonorrhea was and that I didn't want it.

The federal government just funded a campaign to encourage parents to speak to their children about sex education. What a great step. We all know that education starts in the home, and the more resources we have available to families, the more likely they will discuss the issue.

Unfortunately, the $8.5 million per year program is limited to abstinence education. While I would never expect abstinence resources NOT to be available to families, I also would never expect contraception/STD resources NOT to be readily available as well. Ignorance may be bliss, but whatever happened to knowledge is power??? Shouldn't a fair share of that 2-plus year program be also devoted to promoting prevention education?

This is an issue that hits close to my heart. Not just because Mom didn't teach me about sex ed (she did, but only after I learned the messy parts in school), but because my students in New Mexico didn't have the opportunity to. Not talking about it obviously won't make it go away. Teens still get pregnant, STDs are still spread, and the mysteries of body hair remain. There are too many children whose families aren't talking to them about sex, and they aren't given the option to learn it in school. To me, the option of sex ed should be a national standard.

Check out "Around the Web" for the latest on the Fed's war on sex ed.

4 Comments

Abstinence is primarily a morality issue, not an educational issue. It should be taught, but in the home and the church not the school, because a lot of people do not believe that sex should wait for marriage. Plus, "abstinence only" left out a large and often confused class of students---gay, lesbian and transgendered youth---the ones that "Christian" fundamentalists claim do not exist since they regard homosexuality as a behavioral choice, an aberration that can be fixed, not an inherent quality.

As part of a comprehensive sex education program, abstinence should be presented as the safest and most postive choice regarding sexual activity, the one that postpones adult behavior until the youth is mature enough to comprehend the emotional, financial and physical consequences of sexual activity. However, many students will choose to have sex and those who do must have a way to protect themselves from its most devastating consequences---permanent sexually transmitted diseases, children one is not prepared to raise, and financially devastating child support payments, not to mention being forced into a lifelong relationship with a person one does not care about because of the child who is the link between the persons who created him or her.

Since the consequences of sex affect a person's outlook on life and the responsibilities limit a person's freedom and ability to get a good education, sex education IS an educational issue. Perhaps now that the power of the religious right is apparently finally lessening after all these years of conservative government rule, society will admit that the money spent on "abstinence only" training should be redirected into comprehensive sex education that protects our youth and helps them make appropriate decisions.

"Plus, "abstinence only" left out a large and often confused class of students---gay, lesbian and transgendered youth---the ones that "Christian" fundamentalists claim do not exist since they regard homosexuality as a behavioral choice, an aberration that can be fixed, not an inherent quality."

First of all, I do not believe, and I think I am in the majority here, that teaching kids at a young age that being gay, lesbian, or transgengered is ok belongs in any school curriculum. Why does my third-grader need to even know what that is? If a child is struggling with these issues (and this is not by any means a large number of kids), then shouldn't that be handled one-on-one, preferably by the parent, but perhaps by a school counselor or someone who can help? Why does this need to be a classroom issue?

Second of all, as one of those "Christian Fundamentalists" I can assure you that there is no denial that these people exist. That would be ridiculous, wouldn't it? Of course they exist. It is the social aspect of legitimizing such behavior with which we take issue. No one teaches "Love one another" better than Christian Fundamentalists--doesn't matter what your particular issues are. Nobody is perfect. It is always baffling to me that the homosexual lobby paints Christians as so intolerant and unloving when this goes against everything we stand for.


"However, many students will choose to have sex and those who do must have a way to protect themselves from its most devastating consequences---permanent sexually transmitted diseases, children one is not prepared to raise, and financially devastating child support payments, not to mention being forced into a lifelong relationship with a person one does not care about because of the child who is the link between the persons who created him or her."

We have an abstinance-only program in our school district and this past year my son took health class. With the exception of actually showing kids how intercourse occurs and how to put on a condom, all of these issues were covered. My son learned all about STDs and came home wanting to talk about it with me. The teacher had guest speakers from Care Net come in to talk about what happens when teen-agers have babies. I was very pleased as a parent with the abstinence only program and will support it 100%. Teaching a kid how to have sex and how to use protection, then telling them not to have sex is like teaching them how to light a match and start a fire then telling them not to light the match. What do YOU think they want to do? To me, telling a child it is ok to have sex as long as you are protected is the moral issue that should be handled at home--not abstinence.


Patti, I hear you on several of your points in your comment, but you are way, way off on your 'teaching kids to light a match' theory. If you think kids learn about sex primarily from sex ed you need to spend more time in the hallways of today's schools. They learn about sex from each other, from television and music, and from the internet. All these sources are prone to misinformation and exaggeration. The least we can do is arm today's children with real facts about sexual activity and its consequences. If we must keep to your matches analogy, all kids today have ready access to matches. It's best to warn them that they could burn the house down.

Bill, as a Middle School teacher I spend plenty of time in the hallways of today's schools. I talk to the kids about these things. They respond to a caring adult telling them that playing with sex is dangerous and deadly. They need us to tell them it is better to wait. They are facing much more serious consequences than we ever did.

As a science teacher I have had kids ask me questions about sex. I answer them matter-of-factly but still encourage them to abstain. Rather than teaching them how to have sex, I feel very strongly we need to educate them about responsible decision-making. Wouldn't any teacher agree?

Comments are now closed for this post.

Advertisement

Recent Comments

  • Patti Booth: Bill, as a Middle School teacher I spend plenty of read more
  • Bill: Patti, I hear you on several of your points in read more
  • Patti: "Plus, "abstinence only" left out a large and often confused read more
  • Rhonda: Abstinence is primarily a morality issue, not an educational issue. read more

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

Tags

Pages