Sex Education Maelstrom
Recent news events have illustrated the need for sex education that begins early; incorporates effective strategies and accurate information; and supports parents, teachers, and schools in their efforts to educate children and youth in a manner that equips them for life. How to do so is the challenge. When this isn’t done, a sex education maelstrom can result.
The highly publicized live-tweet that narrated a sex education class has exposed a clash of values. The observed instruction was based on fear tactics, misinformation, and a one-sided representation of sexual relationships. The observing parent, Alice Dreger, clearly expected an accurate and complete representation of information delivered in a manner that encouraged students to develop their personal guidelines for sexual behavior. To her horror, it was anything but that.
Instead, the guest instructors used several strategies designed to create fear of sex. Instilling fear is not only ineffective in delaying sexual activity; it is also damaging. It damages the credibility of the educational system, and it damages an individual’s ability to enter into a healthy sexual relationship in the future.
If we are preparing students for life, don’t we really want our young people to enjoy a lifetime of sexual health and pleasure? Be honest.
Rather than trying to coerce our children and adolescents into avoiding mistakes, we need to teach them how to find reliable sources of information about sex, develop the skills needed to behave in healthy ways, and seek help when they need it. Our instruction must use research-based strategies to develop our children’s and youth’s abilities to weigh the facts, develop their skills, and formulate their values. Our sex education must be built upon the commonly held values of respect and responsibility, versus religious or moral values that are particular to a group or ideology.
As John W. Gardner said, “Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.” That includes teaching them how to nourish the seeds of wisdom and values; while at the same time, we teach them how to pull out the weeds of false information and bias.
Effective sex education begins early. Puberty: The Wonder Years teaches 4th, 5th, and 6th graders about the normal changes they can expect as they develop into adults. Students are guided through opportunities to practice their relationship skills and communicate with their parents and other trusted adults. The age-appropriate lessons are easy for teachers to implement and ensure consistent instruction with positive messaging that respects family values. Take a look at how it works at www.PubertyCurriculum.com. Are your local schools implementing the curriculum?
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
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