Really, what is best to teach our children?
When I look back upon what I was taught in school. Yes, way back then. [Okay people, I graduated in 2002. It's not that long ago] I realize that there wasn't a lot of emphasis placed on sex at all. It was just something that really wasn't talked about, unless it was among friends during a football game or in the girl's locker room during a 'smoke break.' Although I took a Health course, I can't remember much at all being taught along the lines of abstinence or safe sex.
According to the website 4parents.gov, one in three teenage girls will become pregnant. ONE in THREE. Obviously, as a country, we have a problem. The real question is how do we, as a country, find a solution? Does the answer lie in teaching our children to abstain from sex? Or should we take a more liberal approach and teach them the safest way possible to have sex? Also, who should be teaching our children these things? Is it the school's responsibility or our's as the parents?
A recent study published by The New York Times took a group of 662 middle school aged students (all of which were African American) and split them into four different groups, each of which was to attend an eight hour program. Group 1 was taught from the abstinence-only standpoint. Group 2 was taught about safe sex and the use of condoms. Group 3 was taught both views, and the program for group 4 was merely a health course unrelated to sex (a control group).
So, yeah. The results were a bit shocking to me, as I would have thought that group 2 (the one engaged not only in abstinence teachings but those of safe sex) would have fared better. In reality the group that was taught abstinence only had a much higher success rate two years down the line. That is, higher than that of the control group, which was the group it was measured against in this article.
What does this prove? That we should only teach our children NOT to have sex, and not what to do in case they are having sex? Because, really.. what the children are learning in this case is completely opposite of what they are living. Even though their teachers are telling them NO SEX, their friends are telling them how wonderful it is.
In any school in any city in any state ANYWHERE there will be teens that have sex, and those that don't. Which is why I believe it is important to teach strongly on abstinence, but to also let them know what they need to do (in terms of protection) in case they are doing it.
The next question for us to answer is who should be teaching our children? Should we place the burden on the school system or should the parents take the responsibility? In my home, sex was hush hush. Don't ask, don't tell. I'm not sure why, being as how now I could call my mother and tell her about the newest vibrator I bought to add to my collection.
In my opinion, though, I feel that the main responsibility is on the parents. We should be the ones to teach our children the "right and wrongs" of life. The burden should be placed on us for their learning values and morals. Schools should simply be there to reinforce this information.
When a school system doesn't teach what we believe they should teach in terms of sex education we get pissed. We rant and rave and go on, but really, they aren't the responsible party. It is our job to teach our children. With two sons, I will be the one who does this. I will teach my sons that sex is saved for marriage. I will teach them about what a wonderful experience sex is between to loving people that are married to each other, but I will also teach them that sometimes things happen. Sometimes we don't always do what is right and good, and in those circumstances they need to learn how to at least do it safely.
And then.. I will feel like a hypocrite, because I am not married. I was pregnant at the age of 19. I was nothing like the ways I want them to grow up and be. But, isn't that how it is as parents? You always want what is good for your children and you always want them to be better than what you are/were. Isn't that what parenting is about?
So, I'm curious. What are your views on the Safe Sex vs. Abstinence war? Whose side are you on? Also, will you (as a parent or future parent) take on most of the sex education yourself or will you leave it up to the school?