Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hiding Sex from the Kiddies (I am just full of touchy posts aren’t I?)

It appears that there is a huge debate on how we (The US) should handle sex education. There are some who want their kids to be totally abstinent and not even know about the existence of sex. Then there is the other extreme who wants everyone to throw caution to the wind and just load them up with condoms and let them have at it. You know me, I am all about the happy medium.

Since I was never forced into the idea of abstinence or made blind to the fact that sex did indeed exist, I fail to see how keeping our children completely ignorant is going to help them make any kind of informed and intelligent decision when faced with dilemmas, and trust me, they will and probably are already facing them. As technology has grown so has our young people’s exposure to the world. And too many times, before parents even have the chance to have the talk with their kids, they have already heard about it from their friends… which could be alarming considering who our children might be friends with at the time.

Now I’m not saying we should drop a steady stream of porn in their laps and say, “Here ya’ go.” I certainly don’t think that’s the way to go either. However I think a lot of people (teachers and even parents) are trying so hard to avoid having these crucial conversations with their kids because it’s probably going to be awkward for both sides. But if they aren’t presented with the facts of the good and bad, information regarding the risks as well as the rewards from a reliable source then where else are they going to get it? Make no mistake, they will hear about it from somewhere.

My mom never forbade me to do anything (knowing it would make whatever it was all the more enticing if she did), but she talked with me about sex whenever she saw a learning opportunity (moment of mortification usually on my end). We had honest discussion (as she tried to ignore my beet red face) and went over what was appropriate and what wasn’t (based on our beliefs, the conversation may vary for some). But she never hid it from me. Now I am not against abstinence, however I believe children should have the knowledge to correspond with why they should be abstinent if that is your belief. Saying, “Just don’t do it because I said so,” isn’t going to cut it… I don’t think it ever has.

I am afraid for children who are kept in the dark since they are the most uninformed. I feel they are the likeliest targets for those that would wish to do them harm. When I see reports of girls birthing babies at thirteen years of age, I become concerned that we could be having these talks “too late” if at all. I believe that having an honest discussion with our children about why they should wait, or be careful and use protection (or whatever it is we want to teach our individual children) could have a larger impact than pushing it off until later (like preteen or teenage years when it could be too late) or never at all. Perhaps we won’t or can’t reach them all, but we could give them and ourselves a fighting chance. Just my opinion.


Charlotte McClain said...

I subscribe to the middle of the road myself (but as a kindergarten teaching in a Muslim country, it doesn't really come up.) However, your comment about 13 year olds having babies caught my attention. In my experience (having taught high school and middle school in the US) most girls who are having kids at that age aren't doing it because they didn't know what they were getting into, but because they did know and knew it would get them a lot of attention. These girls are attention starved so the first boy who gives them any gets anything thing he wants. Then when she realizes she's pregnant she gets even more attention, from upset parents and teachers, from (envious?) school friends and from total strangers who are horrified. For kids who are attention starved good attention and bad attention are the same. So I don't think it's so much a matter of having "the conversation" as not having enough conversations all around.

Lauren Murphy said...

I agree that there aren't enough conversations all around. I also believe that young girls that have babies for attention have issues with self worth (among other things) and really, my original post doesn't begin to cover it. But it's a good topic for another day. However, I can't say I completely agree with the idea that every extremely young girl that has a baby did it for attention. Some are just sadly uninformed or misinformed (I knew one personally). I remember (may have been a while ago now) there was a time when young people were catching STDs from having oral sex, and then clueless about how they caught a disease. For some reason they were under the impression that since it wasn't vaginal intercourse, thus not "real" sex, they shouldn't be able to catch anything by performing the acts unprotected. Frankly, this just scares the hell out of me.

Also, to me, those young people that do these acts strictly for attention have other issues, but I believe even those people could possibly be helped if they understood more about the acts and the consequences of those acts. If most of those young girls knew what a pregnancy would actually be like, what it would do to their bodies, and then had some idea of what the reality of having a real live baby would be like, I'm not sure some of them would be so reckless. Perhaps providing young people with better, clearer information may not help all of them, but there is a chance it could help a lot of them. Just my opinion of course.

Excellent points Charlotte, thanks for commenting!