Saturday, July 21, 2007

Doin' What Comes Naturally

There has been a lot of controversy over the years about teaching Sex Ed in schools. At what age should it be taught? How should it be taught? Who should teach it? Should it be taught at all?

Of course, I rarely speak my mind on controversial subjects, heh, heh, but I will speak out on this one. I support Sex Education in schools, preferrably early in grade school (Obama says kindergarten.)I think that one of the reasons we are such a sex obsessed country is that instead of a straightforward, simple explanation of sex as an urge as natural as breathing, parents tend to skirt the issue. They are embarrassed by the language and make up goofy names for body parts and functions that sound naughtier than they should. And, parents are so afraid that their children will someday want to have sex willy-nilly, that they demonize it, and brand it as "dirty", thereby making it all the more attractive to rebelling teenagers.

I knew one mother who's son happened to see her naked, and asked why she didn't have the same equipment that he did. She got so flustered that she said, "Oh, I do. I do. It's just tucked in."

So, since parents seem to get all uptight at the thought of teaching the subject, it falls to the schools. And, the teachers don't particularly like having the duty dumped on their shoulders, either. By the time the kids are in the 5th and 6th grades, most of them can tell the adults some things that will curl their hair, and kids who are more "protected" tend to do a lot of giggling and snorting and gasping when they learn the specifics.

When I was in about the fifth grade, all the girls were ushered onto a bus, one morning, and taken down to the Little Rock Health Department for a film that was designed to answer all our questions about having babies, etc., etc., etc. Then, they did the same thing for all the boys. It was quite a revelation. Of course, we weren't as "advanced" as fifth graders of today. Today, Obama is probably right, you'd have to get to them by kindergarten, from all indications, to tell them something they don't already know. But, it was a simpler, more innocent time when I was in fifth grade.

I don't even remember much about it, but what I do remember, vividly, is that what followed was the most interesting lunch period that we ever had. See, the teachers ruined everything by insisting that there was no need for the girls and boys to discuss the film among ourselves. After that, it was imperative for us to compare notes to make sure we had all been told the same thing.

We had.


Sister--Three said...

I read Obama's book....he want's sex ed because his father left kids all over the an animal in the forest...he sired them and left!

Annie said...

I like the idea of teaching all kinds of bodily functions and bodily needs as well as emotional functions and needs early on and throughout life. Matter-of-factly, based in science and taught with gentleness and appreciation for the subject, that's how I would have liked to have been taught about the birds and the bees and the heart and the head.

Nancy said...

Oh, what I would have given for someone who would have explained sex and babies to me when I was 10 or 12. Our parents just did not speak of sex at all, and there was no one to turn to when you had a question that begged for an answer. I was confused for several teen years because I turned to the wrong person for information. My friend had an Aunt who lived with them and had never married. She belonged to something called the Third Order of Dominicans. It was a Catholic convent for those who could not physically be a nun. You lived the life of a nun and were buried in the Order's habit when you died but did not live in the convent. That's who we turned to for the answer to the burning question."Do you have to be married to have a baby?" She told us "Of course, you have to be married." Well, tht answer threw us into a tizzy. How does your body know whether or not you are married when a baby begins to grow in your body? This puzzled us for a long time until my friend's older sister explained to us that it was preferable to be married but you did not HAVE to be married, and babies just don't start to grow in your body.
Anyone who thinks that sex education is not necessary or valuable has never been misinformed and confused by the wrong answer.

Patsy said...

I am all for sex education; the earlier the better; preferably starting before preschool; of course age appropriately. I remember I learned the "real facts" from a record that my friend and I snuck from her mother's collection and we played it on the record player when no one was at home.

DJ Kirkby said...

For def the topic should first be approached in kindergarten! It doesn't have to be a full on disucssion, it could just centre around 'I've got a baby in my tummy' (dolly under shirt), or 'I am feeding my baby' (dolly under shirt again), these should be utilised as teaching oppurtunities. I am a midwife and I get to see first hand the repercussions of sexual ingornance in teenagers... it is sad.

susan said...

I've never understood why the body and how it works is so embarrassing. I've always told my kids anything they want to know...and some times things they think they don't want to know!

Dirk_Star said...

Part of the science of political control used by the government in this country is to keep the general public feeling as guilty about sex as they possibly can.

We are continually stimulated by the media and movies to feel a constant sexual attraction to a variety of sex acts. Most of these acts are labeled as a no no by the majority of our social institutions.

As we copulate amongst ourselves our psyches are are kept in a constant state of anxiety, as we try to resolve the double bind of following our natural instincts at the same time we try to adhere to a set of social and religious edicts that proclaim almost every single sex act a sin.

The guilt we experience for expressing the natural sexual urges of our physical bodies produces guilt. Which in turn produces a sense of shame for having failed to live up to the rules. Which in turn makes us be quiet...

We stay quiet in part because we are made to feel dirty about the very humanity we are supposed to be thankful for.

Peggy said...

I think that children should be given information about sex, if not in kindergarden, at least before they become curious about it. It's up to the parents to handle the moral side of things. With my boys, I made sure that they knew that sex wasn't shameful and that I heartily approved of the use of condoms. I told my boys that I would even buy condoms for them if they were to shy to get them. I remember saying that I'd keep a big bowl of them, like the fruit bowl in the kitchen if they wanted. I also talked to them about loving the person that they have sex with and respecting women.

Newt said...

Ok, I have to pull the Simpson's in here. They did an episode in which Homer tells Bart about sex. And then Bart runs to Millhouse's house and the screen zooms up to a map of springfield and you see tiny bodies running from house to house spreading ever out and you hear "And then the man...." and more screams. It was too funny. But too true. Kids end of teaching other kids about sex because it is so Taboo. It was NOT EVER discussed in my home. Not that it was thought of as dirty but it was just frankly not thought about. My parents waited till they were married so I think they naively just assumed us kids would. I'm not sure but anything body related was never discussed.
Personally, if I was a parent I would be very open with my kids both about sex and about alcohol and drugs. The less mystery the less curiosity. If you are open about it I think you avoid a lot of the "After it was too late" sort of scenarios.

Betty said...

sister-three: I haven't learned much about Obama, yet, but I will before the primaries roll around.

annie: My parents were a little timid about enlightening me, even though they were both in the medical profession. Go figure!

nancy: What a funny story. Thanks for sharing.

patsy: Well, whatever works.

dj kirby: We really can't blame teenagers, can we, for the failings of their parents.

Betty said...

susan: I've tried to be upfront with my kids, too.

dirk: Well said.

peggy: I talked to my kids about birth control, too. And, you're right. It's important to talk about emotions as well as raging hormones.

newt: I waited, too, and frankly, I don't recommend it. But, that was just my generation - I thought. Later, I discovered that most of my friends had been active long before they married. Damn! Why didn't they tell me?

Lena said...

I can remember from my school days a girl who got really upset that her period had started and she thought she was going to die! We were still in primary school, around 11 years old and for her that was an early age for menstruation.

But I totally agree with you. Parents shouldn't shirt around when it comes to sex education. Thankfully, it's taught in primary schools these days in Scotland.

John said...

There was no sex education at school when I was a kid. It was very much a case of ... "I'll show you mine if you show me yours".

My wife and I were always very honest with our daughter and answered all her questions, until one day a little voice from the back seat of the car suddenly said ... "Daddy, what's a blow-job?" !!!

Cazzie!!! said...

As you know, my kids are 4 6 8 and 10yrs old. I explain to them what their bodies are doing at the time they are developing. I answer all of their questions honestly and openly, keeping it all to their age level of competency..if you know what I mean.
I never call an action they may do "dirty", I do not want them to think that getting to know their private parts is dirty. I just tell them to take it to their room if they wish to explore their bodies by themselves. This is, of course, mainly said to the boys.
I explained to the girls already about the use of sanitary napkins. They see me using them a few years ago and so I explained it to Sarah.
They ask where babies are made, how they get out of the ladies tummy, etc...I explain it to is all as they go.
I think, if we as parents don't explain things to them, then the school kids will in the yard anyhow. Or, even their TV shows will..depending on the show of course. We all know babies don't come from cabbage patches right!

gawilli said...

Betty they still to this day separate the 5th graders and give them the "talk". I bet the kids could tell them a thing or two.

Not only did I give my kids the condom talk, but all of their friends, too.

By law we have to have an AIDS curriculum and you would be amazed at the number of parents who want their children excluded from this instruction.

Betty said...

Lena: There are a lot of people here who disapprove of teaching sex ed unless the message is abstinence only. A lot of good that does.

John: Well, there are limits to what we are willing to say to our kids at any age.

cazzie: You are in a position to understand the importance of being honest about such things.

gawilli: I am so glad they have an AIDS curriculum, but not at all surprised that there are some idiot parents who refuse to allow their children to learn about it.

patsy said...

why worry about sex ed. when we have all the sexual preditors in the schools as teachers. makes me sickto hear about a female or male teacher praying on their young students.

Betty said...

patsy: It's enough to make you want to home-school your children, just to keep them safe from teachers, isn't it?

Tink said...

It's just tucked in?! *Falls over laughing* Oh man. That's so awful and funny.

Betty said...

tink: I knew you'd like that.