Monday, January 29, 2007

Boys & Girls Together

So, some of the local school boards are about to start more realistic sex education classes for middle school students. Pushing the envelope, the local paper says, and then goes on to indicate that students will be taught that abstinence is best, but that if they decide to have sex, there are some things they should know, like, how to put a condom on properly ...

If they decide to have sex? Oh, spare me! Can I get a witness here?

Has telling teenagers they shouldn't have sex ever stopped them from trying, at any time, any where in the entire history of humankind?

Does anybody really believe it ever will?

Teenagers are walking hormone storms. Nothing you can say scares them. They are bulletproof, going to live forever, and any parental or teacher advice on smoking, drinking, or safe driving is like speaking to tree stumps. Won't happen to me. Somebody else, maybe, but not me.

It's been a long time since I was a teenager, but as I recall, the admontions about saving yourself for marriage were about as effective on my peer group as trying to fly by jumping off a building and flapping your arms.

I see no indication that the subsequent generations are different in this regard.

It's better that they know what to do than not -- and unfortunately, the ones who most need to learn are probably the ones whose parents will opt them out of the classes because they don't think the schools should be teaching such vile things. And the schools shouldn't have to, but so many parents don't. The numbers of teenagers who think you can't get pregnant the first time you do it, or if you stand up, or if you aren't married, are staggering.

There ought to be a bowl of condoms at the entrance to every middle and high school in the country, and detailed instructions on how to use them.

They are gonna do it anyway. Better they have some knowledge and protection against pregnancy and disease than not.

12 comments:

Bobbe Edmonds said...

Amen, Brother Steve. Yes yes, I know, sex is evil. Intercourse is the Devils' work (poor guy get s blamed for EVERYTHING) Screwing causes kittens to die. Lust is nothing but URGES FROM HELL.

I got an explaination for everything EXCEPT how to be safe, growing up. Let me say something right now to all the Mothers and Fathers out there who think your beautiful teenage daughter isn't going to mess around:

SHE IS.

If she met me when I was 17, believe me, SHE DID.

Teach your kids about sex. Or you can teach them how to take care of a baby as a teenager. Ounce of prevention and all.

Dan Gambiera said...

Of course, if they are ignorant they will never figure out what sex is about or how tab A fits into slot B. And they'll be magically immune from venereal disease. And they will save themselves for Jeebus and all become monks and nuns. If they have actual facts they will turn into slavering atheistic lust-crazed perverts and die of AIDS while practicing witchcraft and murdering babies.

And purple simians might subject me to aero-colonic winged maneuvers.

There is a nasty current in all of this. I say "current" because it's not even hidden. The people who are pushing the ignorance agenda are the same ones who held up the HPV vaccine for five years and thereby sentenced a quarter million women to agonizing deaths from cervical cancer. Why? Because it would "giver permission" for girls to have sex if there was one less agonizing, dehumanizing torturous way to die from it. They are the same ones who are pushing "virginity pledges", the ultra-creepy father/daughter Purity Balls and Second Virginity. Look a little further - they are against contraception as a concept and women's equality under the law.

These are not nice people. These are the Taliban with crosses instead of crescents.

Mike said...

Not too far from where I live there's a large billboard featuring some clean-cut looking kids and the line "Abstain from Sex to Achieve Your Goals". Now, I admit it's been a long time since I was in high school, but I do recall that one of my main goals in those days was to have sex. Billboards aside, I somehow doubt that kids have changed that much. And I bet they still go for fast motorcycles, too.

SilatBlogger said...

Hello all;

In contrast to what has already been posted I don't agree.

First, the issue is about middle school. My daughter will be in middle school next year. She will be 11 years old. Not 14 or 15 or 17. A few years make a big difference IMO.

I am a Christian and much of what was written above is craziness in the other direction-most of it is just as hateful and extremist as the people that are being written about. At least it seems that way from my viewpoint.

There is no doubt that there are radical right Christians, but there are radical left liberals. BOTH ARE RADICAL. BOTH ARE WRONG. They're just wrong on different issues (and of course, those are all the issues I don't agree with :). The rest of us are trying to live in the middle.

As for whether or not abstinence should be taught. Of course it should. It doesn't mean that kids will listen, but what's the alternative? "Here's money for a room at local hotel, sex my daughter as long as you want." The alternative doesn't make sense either.

I will probably elect my child(ren) out of those courses. Am I a bad father because of that? Ultimately that's none of your business is it? If my wife and I choose to teach our children OR not, that's still none of your business. We will and already have it set up, but it's still our choice AND, if our child comes home pregnant we'll deal with it and you won't so why all the hostility if I disagree?

There is no doubt that my parents didn't address it. On the other side what Bobbe wrote is so far over the top it sounds more like rhetoric than anything real. If you actually heard those words from a parent or teacher or religious person I would be stunned.

Remember, this isn't about 15-18 year olds. This is about 11-14 year olds max and actually I think in most cases probably 11-13 but it depends on your school system.

OBTW, most Jews and Muslims I know would also have a problem with this too. Actually most parents I know would have a problem with their 11-13 year old having sex. Most would have a problem with their 14-18 year old having sex but if they are too lazy to handle it, then perhaps the school system should. On the other hand, if I as a parent accept the responsibility by pulling my kids, that should not concern you.

Sean

Steve Perry said...

Sean --

While I respect your right to disagree with my posting, I have to point out some errors in your thinking.

First, I nowhere advocated that middle-school kids or high school kids *should* have sex, merely pointed out that which is patently obvious -- many of them are *going to,* whether their parents approve or not.

Second, if all parents were responsible and took care of teaching their children what they needed to know, then it wouldn't be problem, but they aren't and they don't. And many of these children who get pregnant and have children wind up being cared for with public funding. You might not abandon your responsibility, but far too many people do.

If I could be sure that all parents who opt their kids out of the courses would teach them what they need to know -- not what the parents want them to know, but *need* to know, then I wouldn't have said what I said. But -- and you can check the numbers -- the kids that get into trouble didn't learn what they needed more often than not.

Many of them are from good homes.

So, sociologically speaking, it *is* my business, because I and the others who pay taxes will wind up supporting many of these kids who get pregnant or who get AIDS or simply get damaged at too early an age. That's what pisses me off. Lot of people talk the talk, but all you have to do is look around to see how few walk the walk.

If you are one of those who do the right thing, fine, more power to you. But I suspect I'm not telling you anything you don't know when I say that a lot of folks who claim to be good Christians are, by their actions, not at all.

My silat teacher is as fine a Christian man as I have ever met, and he has my respect for his words and his actions.

His like, unfortunately, are few and scattered widely.

I would hope that children get to stay children as long as they need, but it is part of the job of a school system to prepare them for the real world, and in some areas, the schools are failing.

I would much rather a kid who is going to have sex know how to protect him (or her) self and partner. It's going to happen and pretending otherwise won't help.

Dan Gambiera said...

Sean,

Ambrose Bierce once defined a cynic as "A blackguard whose faulty vision causes him to see things as they are, not as they should be."

No matter how many (ewww) Purity Balls, Purity Rings, sermons or verses you throw at teenagers you will not stop sex before marriage or even sex before high school graduation. If your strategy were the most effective the South would have the lowest teen pregnancy, the lowest STD and the lowest divorce rates. Unfortunately it is highest in 1, 2 and 3.

After years of abstinence only "sex education" the data are unambiguous and the conclusions darned near inarguable.

It does not stop kids from having sex.

It delays it a few months, but by the time they're in their twenties the fractions are pretty much identical. What it does is increase the rate at which they have (unprotected) anal and oral sex and unprotected genital sex once they do start up. It also means younger marriages by people who aren't ready to raise a family but are ready to start societally-sanctioned aardvarking.

The Guttmacher Institute has looked at the effects of comprehensive sex education - the sort where the facts are presented, not just antisex propaganda and wishful thinking. The results are, again, clear. Adolescents under such a regime do not start sex any sooner than ones with no or abstinence-only education. They do have less venereal disease and fewer out of wedlock pregnancies.

Nobody is advocating instructional pornography for eleven year olds. What we are strongly in favor of is presenting adolescents with the truth and with accurate, unbiased age-appropriate information based on facts. There's nothing anti-Christian about this. I can't think of anywhere where Solomon or Jesus said "Lie like unto a cheap carpet that your children may never hear Truths that offend thy illusions about them."

SilatBlogger said...

Hi Steve;

IF I misunderstood you I apologize. I will definately admit when I am wrong. However, when I read this:

"Has telling teenagers they shouldn't have sex ever stopped them from trying, at any time, any where in the entire history of humankind?

Does anybody really believe it ever will?"

It sounds like you are saying that we should abandon that concept and just tell them "when you have sex" use a condom. If I'm getting that right, I don't see where the huge logic jump is taking place?

If I don't define something as having consequences and/or alternatives, you know darned well that a child won't either. Now whether or not we teach them to use condoms or not or whatever the sex education process isn't so much the issue, but it doesn't sound like you would advocate telling kids to wait or that they even have a choice by that statement.

My 10 year old who doesn't fully even understand the consequences of bathing or not yet, or not eating vegetables, should not be given open ended sex training without at least the discussion that abstinence is an option that should be considered. That's my single biggest disagreement with what is written. If I have misunderstood your intent I apologize but it sure doesn't seem that way.

I do understand your sentiment regarding people raising their children. I do. I see it daily by the kids up the block selling drugs, drinking out in the street, walking up and down yelling profanity. I would love for it to stop but the truth is, in many ways, government/society is making it more and more difficult for parents to even discipline their children.

In addition, I have several educators in my classes and educators can't discipline the kids, and government, at least here in FL, doesn't discipline the kids. So you reap what you sow and no matter what you "teach" kids if there are no boundaries they will follow the path that's easiest. Guaranteed.

I just see it as at least passive condoning.

DAN:
Who said anything about lying?
Who said anything about not teaching my kids?
My hang up with yourself and Bobbe's comments are that they are biased for your dislike of Christianity. Many other faiths do not condone pre-marital sex. I agree with Steve and yourselves that many of the outspoken Christians present a horrid picture of Christians by their very large mouths.

The rest of us do our best, work on our shortcomings, try to be societally helpful and all that. Don't lump us all together. Just like not all Muslims are Jihadists. Not all Christians are "sex is of the devil" either. In fact, most that I know aren't.

Yes, not all Christians do a good job raising their kids or being good Christians. Many of all religions have that problem and many without religion at all have that problem. This is a people disfunction not a religion disfunction.

BTW, I've never heard of the Purity Balls thing... sounds fringe to me.

Steve Perry said...

Sean --

I think it's fine to try to teach your children a moral and ethical code. By all means, offer abstinence, and explain why they aren't old enough to understand just what having sex truly involves. Thirteen-year-olds ought not to be having sex, nor should they be allowed to smoke cigarettes, drink alcoholic beverages, smoke dope, drive cars or get tattoos.

But you can't watch them 24/7. Some of them are going to do one or all of these things.

A thirteen-year-old, even a twelve- or eleven-year-old girl will often be old enough to get pregnant. You know when that becomes possible?

Veneral disease shows no respect for age.

Even though it has declined in the last few years, the U.S. still has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the civilized world, and yet there are countries wherein teenagers start having sex as early as they do here without the same rates of pregnancy and STDs. Why do you think that is?

Same reason it has declined here: Sex-ed. The places where this is taught, the rates go down. It's a direct correlation. The logic is, therefore, that they are getting useful information in sex-ed classes that they aren't getting at home.

If you don't teach your children about the birds and the bees, and you keep them out of the classes at school where they could learn it, then, yes, for my money, you are a bad father.

According to the latest research I can find, 76% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. Thirteen percent say they are non-religious. Half a percent each offer that they are agnostic or atheistic, the rest are divided among those who are Jewish, Islamic, Buddhistic, Hindu, New Agers, Taoist, Wiccans, Unitarians, etc.

It isn't the Jewish kids who are getting pregnant in droves.

The leap in logic is simple. Tell your kids: We don't want to do this, and there are the good reasons why. But if you choose to disregard what we say, then for your own sake, protect yourself.

If you believe that offering that option encourages early sexual behavior, the studies simply don't support you. The kids that are going to try it will try it because they don't understand on a gut level what the real consequences are.

I would rather my daughter knew how to keep herself from catching AIDS or getting pregnant than not. And the numbers point it out, over and over and over -- a whole lot of children are not getting the information they need to protect themselves, especially in homes where the only teaching offered is "just say no."

If you say "Yes." what happens? The biological (and social) urge for sex is extremely powerful. If you give in, then what?

Just say "No." doesn't address what happens then. It stops at the bedroom door.

This isn't my opinion. It's how it is. Look around. We are none of us bulletproof. We all want to believe that with our children, things will be different, that we will omit the mistakes our parents made. Sometimes we do. And sometimes in the doing of it, we exchange those mistakes for ones we never expected.

The more you know about how things work, save perhaps, sausage-making and politics, the better off you are. Ignorance serves nobody.

I'm for teaching children what they need to know as soon as they can understand it. That varies from child to child, but knowing about sex is major when a child is old enough to do it.

SilatBlogger said...

Hi Steve;

I'm not sure we disagree as much as it seems like we do. I agree with what you're saying but on first blush, when I read your initial post, it sure didn't sound like you were even saying that we should even offer abstinence as an option. To that I disagree. Though a child may choose not to adhere to abstinence as a viable option, we certainly need to teach provide that as a possibilty.

"If you don't teach your children about the birds and the bees, and you keep them out of the classes at school where they could learn it, then, yes, for my money, you are a bad father. "

I agree. For myself and my wife, we decided that it would be best for us to have the conversations with our girls because we want there to be some sort of dialogue not just a "don't do it" thing. We also feel that by addressing it ourselves we are more likely to be able to communicate the value in abstinence far greater than some unknown, potentially unrespected teacher whose goal is stay ultimately employment.

As for the statistics. Well, there are statistics and then there are statistics. As you know, most of the people who claim to be Christian, basically only have 2 hours out of a week or 2 times a year when they actually DO anything that would be seen as such. To me, and probably to Guru Plinck, Christianity is more than a title - it's how you live.

I do agree that part of the equation of teaching children needs to be about when they say yes to sex. No question. BUT I strongly disagree if the general viewpoint is that there is NO option but to have sex. Now at least, it doesn't appear that you are saying this so we do agree here I think.

"This isn't my opinion. It's how it is. Look around. We are none of us bulletproof. We all want to believe that with our children, things will be different, that we will omit the mistakes our parents made. Sometimes we do. And sometimes in the doing of it, we exchange those mistakes for ones we never expected. "

I've seen it over and over again in my own family. There's no question. Just to clarify, I don't disagree in the least with what you're saying.

Steve Perry said...

Sean --

I was, when I made the posting, talking to those who offer only abstinence to teenagers, not parents who take the time and effort to educate their children in the ways of life. I spoke to those folks who offer a knee-jerk response that is unthinking and absolute, and who can't see how ineffective it is.

I wasn't talking to you unless that's who you are, and it doesn't seem that is the case. I wasn't attacking people who have a strong religious or moral belief who address things in a realistic manner.

Putting one's fingers into one's ears and going "La,la,la!" in a loud voice to drown out stuff one doesn't want to hear isn't realistic. The woods are full of those, alas.

You were defending the good Christians, and they need no defense. The problem is that there are fewer of them than who claim the title -- those are the people who need help from the schools.

If you re-read my posts, you might see that I was in no way advocating teenage debauchery, nor attacking those who practice real Christianity. But the hypocrites are always with us, and not a part of the solution but a part of the problem. When any substantial portion of a religion is composed of such folks, it does not put a good face on their beliefs. George Bush claims to be a Christian. So does that loon in Kansas who sends pickets to soldiers's funerals. Anybody who doesn't know better might think that's an acceptable part of the beliefs.

I grew up the Chrisitan faith, my mother was -- still is -- a Sunday school teacher, I went to Church every week, the minister lived across the street from my house. I read the Bible, studied it, and I don't recall that Jesus ever said anything about keeping your children ignorant.

To me, that would be a sin.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

>"My hang up with yourself and Bobbe's comments are that they are biased for your dislike of Christianity."<

I have a dislike for organized religion, not specifically Christianity. It comes across as an attack sometimes, but I truly don't mean it that way.

I was, however, speaking from the experience of my upbringing in Southern Youth Homes, most of which are church sponsored or ran by a denomination of some kind.

>"On the other side what Bobbe wrote is so far over the top it sounds more like rhetoric than anything real. If you actually heard those words from a parent or teacher or religious person I would be stunned."<

It's not rhetoric. I WAS being a little flippiant, but I speak true. Ironically, we had a similar conversation in class last night with my student & close friend Todd, who is a devout Christian himself. I often chide him because we had such polar opposite upbringings: He had a loving, christian home with good family values and upbringing. It really shows in his life now & how he conducts himself. I had none of those, and for the most part was allowed to just run wild. Last night we were discussing a situation in an orphanage I was in, and I brought up the fact that all girls over the age of 10 were put on a mandatory birth control method, no exceptions. (This was the only way to control pregnancy). I saw Todd's eyes pop a little, and I kind of laughed, remembering that not everybody knows this kind of thing & it's a shock when they hear it.

Sean, in the most respectful way possible, I could say the same of you. You speak from the viewpoint of a man with righteous indignation, and from the sound of your writings & would say you have those "good family values" of which I speak. So naturally it would strike you as offensive that anyone would think so far to the other end of things, and believe them to be true.

"Lust is nothing but urges from hell" is a direct quote, by the way, told to me as a young teenager. I have dozens of variations on the theme, but it's usually "Screwing = Burning in Hell" And yes, as you pointed out, it is a radical religious approach. I want you to do me a favor & look up "Survivors of New Bethany" on Google.

That's how far I have seen Sex Education in the name of "Religion" go. Now go on, tell me, ARE YOU STUNNED?

The gist of what I have seen posted here has the ring of truth to all of it. But I resonate closer with Perry's thoughts than with yours because of the human element: I don't believe you can "control" your child, at least not to any deep extent. The odds are horribly stacked against you. The secular world runs a fierce competition for the attentions of your child, and do you remember even ONCE when you gave in to peer pressure, for whatever reason, just to "fit in"? I do. And your kids will, sooner or later, do the same.

And I have seen it over and over, from the nicest of people to the worst. The human element dictates that we do something stupid every so often, even if we know it to be wrong, bad or dangerous.

And children ever so much more so!

Kids naturally test the boundaries, for anything, not just sex. They are line-of-sight creatures, and they live in the world of "See-Want-Take-Have". When they go through puberty it gets considerably worse. Nature has stopped gently humming in thier ear & has begun a heavy metal opera at 90 decibels.

Hard to hear your parents over all that racket.

I'm certianly not trying to tell you how to raise your child, I don't have kids, but I can objectively look at what was taught to me as a child and how it affected me as an adult until I learned otherwise.

When you preach abstinence as the solitary alternative to sex, it gives no quarter to a person with no realistic means of judgement of the consequences of her actions. You can say "Pregnancy" or "Sin" but that's not the same as saying "Burned" if she puts her hand on the stive, is it? She knows what "Burned" feels like. It also leaves her unprepared with no "Plan B" if she, for whatever reason, needs it. What if she just made a dumb mistake, did something that she would never do again, but missed the mark of purity this once? Is the sentance Herpes because she was wrong & didn't come prepared for it?

Do you not carry a little backup for when your fists just don't cover things in a fight?

Things in life happen FAST, and a young teen girl who has never felt the experience of kissing a popular boy for the first time, or his hands lightly behind her neck in just the right place is in serious danger if she isn't AWARE of what's going on when it happens. It's all new and exciting, and it can go further than she thought in a BLINK, if she isn't careful.

I am speaking from experience of doing it here, and I think I'm generally known as a nice guy. Lot's of teen boys out there today who could put me in the shade for this kind of stuff.

Sean, you sound a little like the Papa Bear father, his arms protectively around his child sayin "Not my daughter!" And we're the woodsman coming & and saying "There's a wolf out there".

Just because you don't make your daughter aware of the wolf doesn't mean IT isn't aware of HER.

SilatBlogger said...

Hi Bobbe;

I know you to be a reasonable guy, or at least seemingly, from the time we talked on the phone.

As I read what you've posted now I do have to say that I think we've missed each other at some point.

I DO AGREE fully with what you're saying at this point. That is not at all how it was first presented - at least as I took it. It was very generalized in appearance. I almost didn't even stop to address it but then I thought - well, if I don't address it, maybe it will grow into something else.

I was not raised in a Christian home and I have no illusions about the chastity of youth. I did a great number of things that I will not EVER share with my children. Some not even with my wife. Those are things that, hopefully are deep in the closet.

It's a weird mix because on one level, those are the things that have given me a perspective on Christianity and reality that many of the people raised in Christian homes just don't have. On the other hand, some of it I hope no one would ever go through, do to themselves, do to others and of course figuring out how best to use it for the best in my life.

I'm a late bloomer as far as some Christians go, but naive? Nope. I still battle with my nature as a man and liking what I see - damn the consequences and I supposedly know better!

My basic stance was and is, that we need to offer abstinence as a choice regardless of whether or not kids listen because the alternative is a passive approval by not saying anything contrary. That's all. Well, of course, the defense of what I know to be Christianity too - a term which i really don't like because of the current state of the "church" I just don't know what else to call myself...

As for your upbringing in homes... dude... that just sucks. I at least had a mom who more or less tried.

It REALLY is stunning to me that those ideas are for real... yet, on the other hand, I've seen some pretty extremely ridiculous things come out of the mouths of Christians. I have to remind myself that stupid things come out of a lot of peoples mouths. It's my one coping mechanism :)

Of course, I do hope my child won't become a statisic. Hope is about all you have - and not passive hope - that won't do much. You have to act hopeful and be ready to deal with whatever happens regardless.

As with Steve, I feel that we are closer than first appeared. That to me is the value of addressing it. It's taken a lot of energy but in the end, it's been worth it, for me at least.

Maybe I'll see you in Michigan around Memorial Day. Mushtaq, Brandt, Chuck, and myself started that gathering several years ago but I haven't been there for a few years because of relocating. I'd like to visit again though if possible.