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Ner's Random Musings on a life of interesting insights

a world of interesting factoids about nothing and everything


December 5th, 2007

On the new movement to teach the outrage of abstinence-only sex education--LJ Idol Season 4, Week 5 @ 04:10 pm

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed
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And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the Earth …
--Genesis 1 28 (kjv)


I sit in a classroom sweaty with sixth grade newly budding testosterone. I've never had Mr. Weiss as a teacher, but I do today because he's a guy, and it's all guys day in sixth grade sex education. I'm excited because Mrs. Krausse, the mean hag, isn't teaching me today. I guarantee that her verbal descriptions of the topic at hand would set me on edge. Mr. Weiss helped me that first day, not because he taught me many new things, but because he was the first, and most expert, at not only describing pictures of anatomy to me (I even had tactile pictures later on in school), but he was the first person outside of my family to teach me about sex. It was the first time that I'd talked about multiplication as it related to sex in my public school education. I don't know if I'm a nerd or not, but this wasn't a "free" period away from spelling, or math, or history. This was real education, and because of what my parents had prepped me, I wasn't scared, but was ready to learn.

My parents have always been pretty straight forward with me about sex. We humans are designed with the main idea of procreation, and when we become teenagers, interesting changes happen in our nether regions which, if you're a stereotypical guy, morph our thoughts from Transformers and toy dump trucks, to thoughts of girls, girls, and … girls. So my parents decided they would get to me before these changes happened, just so that I might be ready for them. I was raised a Protestant Christian, and my parents made sure that they told me that I should wait to have sex until I got married, but they spared me few details in talking about the mechanics of sex and the problems I could get myself into if I were to have sex before marriage and how I could protect myself. Sex was never a scary, unknown thing. It was a gift from God and therefore it was a special and sacred thing, and that’s why I should—they said—save it for my future wife. In sixth grade, any details that my parents spared me were revealed with pictures, films, demonstrations of protective techniques, descriptions of birth control medications and methods, and rather long uncomfortable discussions if I remember correctly
. Abstinence was always mentioned, but sex was never vilified; it was only explained n sometimes in sometimes excruciatingly disgusting detail.

I am very thankful that I had the sexual education in my public school that I did. Though the South is not exclusive to this idea (I’ve moved here from the southwest), I’ve heard more and more talk about abstinence only sex education. This idea makes my stomach turn even though I have made a personal choice to abstained from sexual intercourse before marriage. In abstinence-only sexual education, little or no information is given about sex itself, but abstinence is drummed into the student’s malleable brains on a moral/religious pretense. Many times, students in abstinence-only sex education classes sign pledges to abstain, and most times, they break this pledge before their eighteenth birthday. Studies comparing comprehensive versus abstinence-only sex education have even shown a marked increase in the sexual activity of teens who have had access to abstinence-only sex education. Teens who are taught abstinence alone have the same hormonal urges as those teens who have comprehensive sexual education; the only issue is that those who are taught that absttinence is the only option may not know that condoms exist, much less how to use them, when and if the raging hormonal hurricane that is teenage love descends. According to this article, 70% of teens who are taught using the abstinence-only method have had oral sex by the time they turn 18, and 40% have had sexual intercourse by this time.

Much like religion, choosing to abstain from sex until marriage is a personal decision. Many Christian religious leaders have coached their followers, using the scriptures and other experiences, to be celibate until marriage for moral reasons. Abstinence has other advantages then the religious or moral ones. When abstaining, you have a 100% chance of not having an unwanted child or getting a sexually transmitted disease as condoms or other birth control methods work most of the time, but are not fool-proof and don’t work all of the time.

Although I personally agree with and practice abstinence, I don’t want my kids to be taught nothing but abstinence in a sexual education class. Sure, my kids might still become a statistic--a teenage pregnancy, a sexually transmitted disease carrier--but it is my hope that with my guidance as a parent, and the guidance from a knowledgeable health professional or teacher, that a responsible, balanced, sexual education will be taught.

Sex is a gift that has been given to us by our creator, not only for pleasure, but it’s been given to us for the express purpose of creating new life. Let’s give our kids useful knowledge about sex rather than just telling them that the only option is abstinence. Let’s tell teens that birth control and contraception is available and resist the urge to scare them so much that they either become rebellious and have sex just because someone has told them not to, or be so scared that their married sex life is rife with worry and moral confusion. Let’s teach our kids how to multiply and replenish the Earth responsibly by actually teaching them. Complete knowledge = power. Abstinence-only sex education does not teach complete knowledge, but only glosses over an important issue that must and can be responsibly dealt with through proper, complete sex education.
 
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From:lilmissmagic71
Date:December 5th, 2007 09:50 pm (UTC)
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I am in 100% agreement with you on this... Though I have a few years before having to explain the mechanics of it all to my boys, I am already trying to make sure they have a good body image, know to respect other people's beliefs, know that their bodies are always giving them cues they should be tuned into and that there are things that only adults should do but those things are still beautiful and natural... I only pray they will be lucky enough to have a comprehensive sex ed and not just a wannabe sermon...

great post! Thought provoking and informative!
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From:djner
Date:December 6th, 2007 02:12 am (UTC)
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THanks for your comment. I wanted to put more facts and figures in the post, but it was getting long, and I think this is one of the weaknesses in my writing that people don't like. Glad you liked the entry, I was worried that it wouldn't be received well.

Go fifth dimension :P.
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From:baxaphobia
Date:December 6th, 2007 12:17 am (UTC)
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Nicely done.
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From:djner
Date:December 6th, 2007 02:12 am (UTC)
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Thanks so much.
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From:angstzeit
Date:December 6th, 2007 12:41 am (UTC)
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Very much agree. Abstinence only to me, is like giving kids guns and only saying don't pull the trigger.
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From:djner
Date:December 6th, 2007 02:13 am (UTC)
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Nice analogy. Glad you liked the entry. Thanks for your comment.
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From:imafarmgirl
Date:December 6th, 2007 02:23 am (UTC)
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Great post.
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From:djner
Date:December 7th, 2007 02:36 pm (UTC)
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Thanks so much :).
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From:sad1584
Date:December 6th, 2007 02:55 am (UTC)
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I totally agree! I remember my abstinence only education in high school. I found it quite worthless. The message was "If you have sex before marriage you will get an STD" and I remember them showing all these graphic pictures of what happens to men and women when they get an STD. Of course they do not talk about how to PREVENT it other than to abstain. Just because one person practice abstinence does not mean that the person they are in love with did. So even if they got married, he or she could get an STD.
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From:djner
Date:December 7th, 2007 02:38 pm (UTC)
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Good to see youa round on the old journal, bee a while.

Yep, I was lucky that I had comprehensive education. I think that mentioning and condoning abstinence is a good thing, but just not mentioning it and saying that if you have sex you'll get an STD just doesn't work for me.
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From:xo_kizzy_xo
Date:December 6th, 2007 05:05 am (UTC)
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I also agree 100%.

I had little to no sex education. Mind you, I attended parochial school through the 6th grade. When I transferred to public school I heard the word "fuck" for the very first time. When it was explained to me what it means, I was first totally confused, then like "EWWWWWWWW!"

I sometimes think had I had at least the basics, maybe my adolescence wouldn't had been so confusing *shrug* Nobody ever explained anything to me. And I was too embarrassed to ask because I thought it was something I should've already known.

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From:djner
Date:December 7th, 2007 02:42 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the comment. I can't imagine not knowing about responsibility and responsibility of sex.
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From:falcon13
Date:December 6th, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC)
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timely! I'm glad you were annoyed enough to write about your sex-ed experience, your attitude toward sex, and the narrowness of the abstinence-only approach.
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From:djner
Date:December 7th, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC)
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I've been annoyed for a while, but when presented with the topic of sex ethics, I had to come up with a topic, and that one came to mind. I'm enjoying this contest because it's forcing me to write on a topic. Thanks, as always, for your comment.

Edited at 2007-12-07 02:45 pm (UTC)
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From:spydielives
Date:December 6th, 2007 01:24 pm (UTC)

Teach your children well

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The way my husband and I dealt with "sex too early" with our kids was to have a rule in place when they were 8 and 10. There would be absolutely no dating until they were 16. At that point, if they wanted to explore a relationship, then they would at least be old enough to deal with some of the consequences. We felt they (both boys, actually) would be able to make more informed decisions.

As the boys grew up, they were taught that not all relationship styles are the same, what works for one person may not work for another, and above all else respect your partner. I have been told, now that they are 18 and 20 that this strategy actually worked (for the most part) because they had an easy answer for any peer pressure.

They are far more accepting of alternatives than most of their peers in the (unfortunately) hick town we raised them in. Through them, their friends learned a bit more tolerance too... even if it didn't always make complete sense.
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From:djner
Date:December 7th, 2007 02:48 pm (UTC)

Re: Teach your children well

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I think that the (dating until 16 thing) is what I'll do as a parent. It seems to be what most people in my church do with their kids. Thing is, if they want to date, they do it behind their parent's backs. So I guess that the only way to make sure that kids don't do anything "stupid" is to not micromanage your kids. I have zero experience with this, but my theory is taht if I don't micromanage my kids, if I teach them good values, morals, and tolerance, they will choose to make right decisions.

Was my html better this week? Stupid autoformatter.
From:libra_dragon
Date:December 6th, 2007 09:50 pm (UTC)
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I really liked this and agree with you on the points you present.
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From:djner
Date:December 7th, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for your comment. I liked your entry as well.
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From:puppybraille
Date:December 7th, 2007 12:37 am (UTC)
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Great post. I agree with you. I didn't learn about much of these things until college (well I knew some but not much). I'm fortunate that I never did anything I regret in this area, but I'm not naive enough to think most people were this fortunate.
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From:djner
Date:December 7th, 2007 02:51 pm (UTC)
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True that. Thanks so much for your comment, I'm hoping that I can teach my kids well so there's no ambiguity or confusion with them. Gotta get married first, and then have kids. Thanks again.
From:tulip_in_yellow
Date:December 7th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
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I like how you took this from your youth up to today. The progression of learning and knowledge that you have built your own personal sexual ethics around. And I agree with the bulk of your sentiments. For some reason, reading this entry was easier than any of your past entries. Smoother flow or something...so yeah, nice job :)
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From:djner
Date:December 7th, 2007 07:36 pm (UTC)
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This contest is helping me do just what I wanted, get better as a writer. I'm glad that for you at least, my entry flowed better than my others. THanks for your kind words, I was really worried about this entry, as I didn't think it was actually as well-written as last week's. I guess it's all about how others view your topic and writing style.
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From:sushimustwrite
Date:December 8th, 2007 01:27 am (UTC)
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I was a victim of abstinence-only education, and it definitely does more harm than good. The kids definitely had sex anyway, so why not tell them how to have safer sex?
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From:djner
Date:December 8th, 2007 03:58 am (UTC)
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Couldn't agree with you more and that's why I wrote the entry. It's all about information, because if people know how to use something properly, they won't screw things up. Always works when you read the manual for something, especially when you're trying to program your VCR or installing a new piece of software. Usually it's quick and easy, but make that one wrong step, and you could be sidelined for a while wasting your time trying to figure out where you went wrong.
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From:sircaliban
Date:December 8th, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC)
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I'm not sure I really want the public school system to be the only source of sex education that my kids have. While the debate of what to teach children in school rages on.. I think it's only responsible of me to teach my kids myself.
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From:djner
Date:December 10th, 2007 05:34 am (UTC)
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I agree, and I'll be doing the same, but I still wonder what those who don't ahve responsible parents will do. It's for them that I'd like to learn more about sex than just abstinence.
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From:lacombe
Date:December 10th, 2007 02:04 am (UTC)
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students in abstinence-only sex education classes sign pledges to abstain,

What? How do they have a right to decide THAT for them? Do the kids get in trouble if they refuse? That's insane!

When abstaining, you have a 100% chance of not having an unwanted child or getting a sexually transmitted disease

One woman in four is raped.

Excellent entry! You're getting better with each one, my friend. There's a lot of content in here- I have a lot to say, but I'm bowing out because our viewpoints are very different, methinks, on this subject. Still, your points are very well presented and very strong- this is, again, your best entry yet!
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From:djner
Date:December 10th, 2007 05:24 am (UTC)
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Hey man, thanks for your comment. Just because you don't agree with my viewpoint doesn't mean you can't comment about things. I disagreed with plenty of the entries, and still commented. I just enjoy reading all of the people's viewpoints on these kinds of weighty issues.

About one and four women getting raped.

I was saying taht if you consciously abstain, and no one rapes you, you have a 100% chance of not being pregnant or getting an STD. Of course, even if you're raped, you technically are not abstaining from sexula intercourse. The difference is that when you're raped, you are not consenting to the act. YOu'll probably disagree, but that's just how I look at it.

I actually thought this entry kind of sucked, and was worried about it, but I'm glad you liked it. I'll try to keep improving, because if I do that, I should be able to stay in the competition. Thanks for your comments, and please, critique away.
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From:walkertxkitty
Date:December 10th, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
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I wish that I had had the experience you did in sex ed; it would have saved me a lot of pain and shame. It might even have prevented me from being so badly used by my first husband. I would suspect that the type of education you received is probably standard for males; I don't know how standard mine was, but I've seen a lot of frightened and misinformed women like me. Thanks for writing.
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From:djner
Date:December 10th, 2007 05:19 am (UTC)
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Glad you wrote. Yes, I'm glad I had the experience that I did. Glad you liked the entry.

Ner's Random Musings on a life of interesting insights

a world of interesting factoids about nothing and everything