Sex Education: Opinion
My son brought home the above permission slip (I blacked out the nurse’s name for privacy) the other day and I immediately had concerns. For one, what exactly does “eye-opening” mean? And what is my son being taught in health about STD’s (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)?
The history of sex education in schools goes back to 1912, further than I realized. Since then, it has changed as the government and society have changed. There has been debate over sex education in schools for many years, with various opinions on the best way to present it. Which works better: abstinence-only or comprehensive? (Truly, there are problems with both approaches.) Regardless of what method is used, many teens are having sex or sexual contact and at younger ages than parents want to believe. That makes it imperative that they are educated on the symptoms of STD’s so they can seek treatment immediately.
I am in complete agreement with education. I have a firm belief in learning as much as I can about everything this big wide world has to offer and want my children to do the same. I also believe there are appropriate methods of teaching sensitive subjects to children.
… a lot of parents are not as involved in their children’s lives as they want or need to be.
Children and teenagers see and hear a lot more than we give them credit for. Through television, games, and social media they are subjected to topics such as sex, suicide, drugs, and alcohol, not to mention bullying and predators. Our children are already absorbing information about sex and STDs before the health class at school. (For information on keeping your kid safe online, visit Safe Search Kids.)
This is when the parent is supposed to come in. I say, “supposed to” because I know for a fact that a lot of parents are not as involved in their children’s lives as they want or need to be. The need for both parents to work in order to provide for their family makes it harder for parents to be available for their children. And, let’s face it, some parents are just not interested in their children’s activities.
It is a parent’s duty to know their child and be aware of that child’s sensitivity and comprehension abilities. It is a parent’s responsibility to discuss age-appropriate sexual subject matter with their child. I started teaching my children about the differences between males and females when my oldest daughter was 4 and her baby brother was born. The natural flow of that conversation led to a very basic talk about sex. I wasn’t going to discuss oral sex, STD’s, or birth control with my 4-year-old. However, some of that came later when she was 12 and curious.
I also think it is a parent’s responsibility to supplement the sexual education given in schools by discussing consent, any religious or moral values, and allowing the child to ask questions without feeling judged. Without a trusting relationship, children will seek out answers from others instead of their parents. This includes friends, teachers, or even internet searches. I would rather my children obtain accurate information from me than listen to what their friends say.
It is up to each individual to make informed decisions about what they will allow the school to teach their child.
Obviously, I am one of the more involved parents. Teachers have told me as much when I have contacted them about my child. One even said in her email that she was “not used to parents reaching out about their child’s missing assignments.” I have contacted the schools for everything from a misunderstanding on the playground to obtaining a curriculum so I can help with homework and everything in between. I have not missed a play, performance, or parent lunch in my 23 years of being a mom and I volunteer at the schools. While this means my time is limited for other things, I want to know what my children are being exposed to, and the best way for me to find out is to be there.
This vague permission slip was no exception. I reached out to the teacher and asked what was in the slide show as I wanted to make an informed decision. The teacher sent me the slide show to review. It contains the usual statistics and science information, as well as stating that some STDs can be transmitted through kissing and oral sex, not just sex. There are two slides, out of 77, that mention abstinence or protection. Six slides show up close photos of genitals affected with various STDs. Due to the graphic content, my son will not be seeing this in class.
I understand it is meant as a scare tactic. I can even relate to the idea that photographs would have more influence than diagrams and numbers. However, I do not think photographs of that nature are appropriate for my 14-year-old son. Other parents may disagree, and that is fine. It is up to each individual to make informed decisions about what they will allow the school to teach their child.
Parents, please, contact the school to find out what your child is learning besides math and history. Talk to your child and let them know it is safe to come to you with any concerns. We are their first and last protectors and champions.