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message 1: by Kipahni (last edited Jan 31, 2009 04:51AM) (new)

Kipahni | 21 comments How effective are abstinence programs? Where I am curently living women go to GREAT lengths to prove their purity (cutting and sewing up the outer labia, a cermony that displays the womans virgin bloody cloth after marriage ect.) In america it seems like it's extremes on both ends, either we are passing out condoms and bananas to 10 year olds or we don't speak of it at all and make teens promise to "have no ding ding befor the ring ring"

Is there a healthier response to such a natural process? Should we even teach sex ed in schools? I am also curious how other countries teach sex?

message 2: by Bob (last edited Feb 01, 2009 05:58AM) (new)

Bob Myer | 39 comments In the US, I find it interesting how much the schools are expected to teach. The volume of information which parents are willing to abdicate to the schools - the responsibility for passing this information on to their children - is amazing. And yet in some (many?) cases or to some parents, the idea that schools would raise children is appalling. There may even be an expressed sense on the part of the parent of "How dare they!" Thus, abdication of responsibility until it brushes up against one's sensibilities (or proclivities), and then the story changes.

While the above may seem a bit off-topic, it may not be so. Educating a teen about sex can be a very touchy subject (no pun intended). Parents should be concerned about how sex is taught in school, and yet the biology must be taught, I believe. I would submit as well that schools should adopt the one point of view which ensures safe sex, and that is abstinence until marriage. This does not mean in any way that each teacher must believe this doctrine for him or herself. It means, rather, that it is a good point of view to espouse to teens (chock full of hormones) who get sex messages from just about everywhere, almost none of which have anything to do with abstinence. Viagra-type commercials and every show on MTV come to mind.

So, circling back to the original question, I think there is a healthier way to teach sex education in public schools. That is to teach the biology (even to the point of discussing STDs and such topics) of sex while putting forward an abstinence point of view is a healthy choice for our kids. It puts their best interests forward. Other points of view are freely given elsewhere, whether the student wants to hear them or not. In the end, the home is where other conversations belong - even though many of us continued that conversation in the locker room. (Some things just are.)

Post script - Just for full disclosure, I have taught in public schools.

message 3: by Colleen (new)

Colleen | 67 comments For me being sexually intimate is a lot more then simply "a natural process". We are emotional creatures that attach our soul to everything that we do. Those that like to pretend that we are mere animals that can detach from emotional attachment are the ones living in the dark. That is what I believe we should be teaching in the schools. It would serve to have honest discussions with children about their experiences and believes about sex.
Most if not all children form their believes about intimacy on what they have experience from the adults in their lives. There is a huge concern about STDs and the youth believing they don't have to worry about them. Yet, for me, I am more concerned with the causual way sex is looked at. Too many teenages see their first sexual act as merely a right of passage and later regret not taking more time to truly be clear on what and with whom they are intimate with.

message 4: by Kipahni (new)

Kipahni | 21 comments I have to say in my own background my mother scared me into abstinence when she started our "birds and bees" story with " Now, do you girls know what rape is? This is similar to how babies are made." And then she proceeded to get out this huge piture medical dictionary of rashes and showed us the various std's one cold get and what they look like. While the scare tactic worked for my sister and I, don't know if it gave us a healthy out look on sexuality till we were both married.

Here in Egypt where I live now there is no sex ed in school, at least in the surrounding villages. Couples learn the mechanics of sex a week or two before the wedding (since no one "dates" here and engaged couple are not allowed to be alone) I am sure they have vague ideas because it is a farming community, and most families sleep in the same room so they are bound to put some peices together.
When my mother-in-law married it was tradition for her mother and grandmother to go into the wedding chambers and hold the girls legs open so that her husband could consumate the marriage. This is how they use to "teach" sex.

AS a nurse I am on the fence. I had an 11 yearold girl who came to the hospital and didn't know how she got pregnant. So when I see cases like that I think" woah, maybe there sould be more dialogue here"

message 5: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wendywins) | 103 comments Children WILL learn about sex. The question is HOW , from WHO, and how will it get them either INTO difficulties, trauma or prevent them getting into problems. Many children learn about sex from their peers, or older children who tell them about it in great glee to boast of their greater knowledge of the world or to scare, shock or intimidate others. Their information is rarely complete and accurate on first presentation and is not usually contexted with consequences etc . This is NOT , everyone might agree, the BEST way for a child to learn about his/her sexuality, or about the sex act and what it may be, can be about. If parents do not teach their children the basics, the schools do a service by presenting the information in a safe ,calm, and neutral atmosphere.

message 6: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Buckley (Anthonydbuckley) | 36 comments I remember being taught how to drive by my parents. This was not a good idea. There was far too much anxiety on all sides. We nearly had an accident. Eventually, I took driving lessons from a proper instructor and the whole business was free from pain.

Similar considerations apply to sex. One wants to be approachable to one's children and for them to feel that no topic is off limits. This is true, particularly in case of emergencies and disasters. But children often prefer to deal with adults who carry no emotional baggage. There is nothing inherently wrong with this and I feel it should be respected.

Sex, apart from anything else, is the central psychological mechanism that allows children become independent of their parents. Children don't necessarily want to share their sexual feelings - still less their secrets - with their parents. A good sex-education teacher can be just what a child needs.

message 7: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wendywins) | 103 comments "Those that like to pretend that we are mere animals that can detach from emotional attachment are the ones living in the dark." I would never call the animals that I have come to know "mere animals". Moreover, anyone who has seen animals "grieve", or express attachment to an owner or to their animal pals..might want to reconsider. Animals are individuals worthy of respect for their complexity...and in fact shares surprisingly more DNA and biology with homo sapiens than some would want to admit.

message 8: by Colleen (new)

Colleen | 67 comments Wendy,
I am sorry if my comments offended. It was not meant to demean our furry friends. I have yet, however to witness pets and four legged creature be affectionate while engaging in the sex act. That is what separates us from the beast of the field.
With my whole heart, Colleen

message 9: by Wendy (last edited Feb 02, 2009 02:09PM) (new)

Wendy (wendywins) | 103 comments Colleen,
I have seen few four-legged creatures in the sex act outside of nature documentaries. Perhaps you have seen more.... On the other hand I have not seen documentation of animals engaging in methodical torture of individuals of their same species, nor go to war on a regular basis intraspecies...though tribes of chimps,.. our closest relatives do (while bonobos, also close in the family tree, apparently do not and use sex to bond, placate, and keep peace pretty effectively). If affection..feigned or otherwise..exhibited in the sex act separates us from beasts...that may not be as significant as other "signs" of emotion unconnected to what used to be called "animal drives"!

message 10: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Buckley (Anthonydbuckley) | 36 comments Some animals seem to be affectionate in their sex lives (gorillas, pigeons)while some others (certain spiders, preying mantises)actually eat their mates!
We humans are sometimes nice and sometimes nasty. Certainly, as Wendy suggests, we do not exactly occupy the moral high ground compared with other species.

The posting that opened this discussion gave a glimpse of some of the more unfortunate things that people get up to. Ouch! In general, I think, we should teach our children to err on the side of kindness. This is a good idea in sex as in much else.

message 11: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wendywins) | 103 comments One counsel I give is that it SEEMS that women bond to lovers and then overlook incompatibilities and timebomb issues (like alcohol abuse,instability,lying etc) and its better to carefully "look before you 'bleep'". Its safer. Someone else could likely comment on what it does to men's perspective....

message 12: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Buckley (Anthonydbuckley) | 36 comments Wendy, I have absolutely NO IDEA what it is that women see in men. I take hope from the fact that women do indeed overlook our faults.

As for advising my sons on choosing a woman, I long ago decided that this would not be a good idea. Fortunately, those of my sons who are married (or nearly so)seem to have made truly excellent choices without any help from me. I sigh with relief.

Shannon (Giraffe Days) (giraffe_days) Where I went to school, in Tasmania, sex education was taught in primary school, grades 5 and 6 (so, when you're 9, 10, 11 years old). We were taught about reproductive organs etc., and there was a mobile educational unit (like a bus with no windows) that toured the public schools that had lifesize models of a woman so you could remove the "skin" and see the organs. I've always remembered about the fatty breast tissue, which did look rather gross.

So we got the important stuff before we were sexually active, which makes sense to me, and then in Grade 10 health we did more on the reproductive organs and STDs, while in Year 11 health we focused more on STDs and other illnesses like anemia.

I guess I'm very anti-abstinence teaching, I think it does more damage than good. Ignorance leads to a great deal of problems, and seems to stem from people not trusting other people, especially young people. But sex EDUCATION should be just that, to give people the information they need to understand and make informed decisions. Now, you're never going to be able to "stop" young people from having sex, so the best thing is to arm them with the knowledge to protect themselves and do it wisely.

I remember reading on a blog a year or so ago, about some state in the U.S. that was doing a mass ceremony where teenage girls wearing white dresses were pledging their virginity to their fathers. Completely creeps me out.

message 14: by Colleen (new)

Colleen | 67 comments Shannon,

I disagree with your statement. "You're never going to be able to 'stop' young people from having sex.".
You make it sound like every youth is bound to have sex. It has been my experience that there are many youth that choose abstanance. While I believe that teenages get to be informed about STDs, I believe it is the responsibility of education to stop the believe that it is abnormal not to have sex.

As someone that has never had to worry about getting an STD because I choose to be a virgin that married a virgin, I can't help but feel I made the best choice.

message 15: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wendywins) | 103 comments Those of us who remained virgins throughout high school and college can be self-congratulatory if we want but it does not change the fact that sex education enhances preparedness for adult sexual relationships no matter when they occur. Ignorance is rarely bliss.

Shannon (Giraffe Days) (giraffe_days) Colleen, that's not what I meant. I didn't mean to imply that every teenager wants to have sex - they're actually in the minority. The emphasis was on how some people seek to control young people by keeping them in ignorance. What I said was that even if you give good sex education, some teenagers are still going to have sex and that's not necessarily a bad thing or a wrong thing or something that you should seek to put a stop to.

It's not about choosing abstinence though, Colleen. I didn't have sex until I was 18 because I didn't want to, not because I thought it was wrong. The word "abstinence" leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and is doing a lot of damage in places in Africa.

Between George W. Bush insistence on abstinence being taught in Africa in exchange for aid money, and the Pope ridiculously saying that condoms may actually help the spread of AIDS, all the hard work organisations have put into teaching sex education there in order to stem the tide of HIV has had several setbacks.

By all means, let teenagers choose either way, but for God's sake, give them the education they need to make a decision for themselves. If they still choose to have sex, that's their choice. Hopefully they at least listened to the part about how to use a condom.

Sex education does NOT make teenagers feel bad for choosing not to have sex. Nor does it encourage them to have sex. Also, "casual sex" does not implicitly imply "unprotected sex".

message 17: by Colleen (new)

Colleen | 67 comments Shannon,

Thank you for sharing your experiences. I do agree that many of the practices about sex eduacation is coming from a space of control.

It's interesting that you use the phrase "for God's sake" when talking about choice. It is in the name of God that many people teach abstinence. I do believe that it is the will of God that everyone has choice.

I believe it would serve teenagers to be very open about what sex is. There is no such thing as "casual sex" and I am more concerned about the emotional scars than the diseases that they can catch.

I believe the best way to approach sex education is the same way I approach relationship education. Schools get to decide what are the key points that everyone can agree on and then get the students to the point where they can find what works for them.

With my whole heart, Colleen

Shannon (Giraffe Days) (giraffe_days) "Casual sex" is the term generally used to refer to, for example, one-night stands. I.e., sex with no strings attached, no relationship, perhaps friendship, perhaps not. So I'm not sure what you mean by saying that there's no such thing.

I did not mean that sex education is about control, but that keeping children and teenagers in ignorance of sex and all that comes with it, is. I believe I'm saying the opposite of what you are, Colleen. But I do agree with you about giving teenagers the space to be open about sex.

Just trying to be clear about what I mean.

message 19: by Colleen (new)

Colleen | 67 comments Shannon,
What I am saying is that what we in society label as "casual sex" with no strings attached is a false believe. Unless you are created differently from me, when I choose to be intimate with someone there is nothing casual about it. Yes, I am very aware that people believe they can have sex with a stranger and it doesn't mean anything. I am proposing that it means plenty and that its time we realize it!
As I see it there is two choose about "casual sex".
1. You get to a point where sex itself means nothing.
2. You start to see yourself as having lesser value.
Perhaps the biggest problem is adults that are being less than honest with themselves.
With my whole heart, Colleen

message 20: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 3 comments What we are failing to discuss in this particular debate is what the studies have found with regards to the rates of pregnancy and ST infections with abstinent-only programs. What they have found but Bush was unwilling to admit is that abstinent-only programs don't work. Now that Obama is in office, he will be funding only programs shown to work. And when I say they do or don't work, I'm talking about the rate of teenagers that claim to be active.

As far as the idea in general that we leave birth control up to a teenager's self-control is ridiculous. When desire strikes, it has been shown that the prefrontal cortex ( the area of the brain used for decision making and other higher functions, which is also not fully formed yet in the adolescent) is not the driving force. Why anyone would think this is a good idea is beyond me, but maybe it's just idealism taking a wrong turn. Yes, wait till you are married, but suppress all expression of sexual desires until marriage. Wow, guess god wants us to pretend we are not sexual? Many a virgin just married can't get intimate with her new guy because she has been stuffing any "sinful" natural desires. This goes back to the whole "flesh is sinful" idea. Not a healthy way of dealing with it with your teenagers, so, talk to them!

message 21: by Carlie (new)

Carlie | 86 comments Like you Colleen, I am also "someone that has never had to worry about getting an STD because I chose to be a virgin that married a virgin"
I also agree that is the best choice.

message 22: by Maria (new)

Maria Elmvang (kiwiria) | 2 comments Carlie, it may be the best choice for some, but it obviously isn't for everybody. And since studies have shown that teen pregnancy is more frequent in areas that teach "abstinence only" than in areas that teach about STDs, proper contraception etc. I think it's important to not ignore these issues. The people who wanted to wait still will, but the ones who don't will actually know what they're doing rather than think "Oh, I can't get pregnant if I drink coke immediately afterwards" (yes, this is a true example).

Shannon (Giraffe Days) (giraffe_days) That's exactly it Kiwiria. Abstinence is a choice that some take, but that doesn't solve the problem by any means. And forcing people to abstain by whatever means is not the right thing to do either. The bottom line is, we should all know how our bodies work so we can look after ourselves better, and this includes understanding reproduction, STDs etc. It's plain common sense.

Out of curiosity, does abstinence mean refraining from ALL types of sexual contact or just vaginal intercourse? Only, you can catch things like herpes from doing non-intercourse acts.

message 24: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Buckley (Anthonydbuckley) | 36 comments The basic issue is lack of pressure from peers and from authority figures.

Remembering back to my undergraduate days (admittedly, a long time ago now, but people don't change that much), I recall a broad spectrum of people among my peers, aged 19-21. Some were highly "sophisticated", jumping from partner to partner; some were attached walking around like old married couples; yet others were like children, just not mature enough to be interested in the opposite sex. And of course some slid from the latter category to one of the others.

Parents and teachers can warn about STDs and preganacy; and they can give their own honest opinions. But in these matters, each person has to find his/her own way. In fact, they will do this anyhow.

I believe it was Jung who said, "Children should be allowed to grow, like trees".

Shannon (Giraffe Days) (giraffe_days) I believe it was Jung who said, "Children should be allowed to grow, like trees".

I like that Anthony :)

There are some areas where people - not everyone - get very controlling when it comes to children, like what they're allowed to read etc. What's wrong with a bit of trust?

message 26: by Carlie (last edited May 27, 2009 11:58AM) (new)

Carlie | 86 comments I don't have a problem with sex education, I just dissaprove of dismissing abstinence teaching from the equation. If the only thing you ever say to teenagers is abstinence education doesn't work, what kind of message is that sending? When I was in college, the data was that 50% of high schoolers were having sex and yet the claim was abstinence is unrealistic? Really? In what other research area do you completely dismiss the behavior of half the population?

Fact is, in high school, I was made to feel like I was in the minority for not engaging in sexual behavior when in truth, I was not.

message 27: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wendywins) | 103 comments Abstinence education works for some but eventually, people WILL have sex so its just a matter of when and most do BEFORE marriage. It is the EDUCATION on Sexuality and the risks/repurcussions of various choices that can help teens decide better, safer, and smarter. Hopefully, many will choose abstinence as a SAFE thing to do while they are still in high school at least.

message 28: by Maria (last edited May 28, 2009 01:26AM) (new)

Maria Elmvang (kiwiria) | 2 comments Carlie, definitely abstinence should be taught. It just shouldn't be taught as the only option, but as an alternative to using contraception responsibly.

I don't claim that abstinence is unrealistic - I know many people who waited, myself included - but for many people it is, and I'd rather have them practice safe sex than be completely ignorant of contraception, STDs etc. just because the school taught abstinence only.

Give the students enough knowledge to make an informed decision - that's all I'm asking :)

message 29: by Carlie (new)

Carlie | 86 comments I haven't seen anyone here advocate abstinence-only education. What I have seen are people advocating that abstinence IS the best choice and others saying it doesn't work.
Education on sexuality should include abstinence.

Shannon (Giraffe Days) (giraffe_days) When I was in college, the data was that 50% of high schoolers were having sex and yet the claim was abstinence is unrealistic? Really? In what other research area do you completely dismiss the behavior of half the population?

Doesn't mean that they're practising abstinence, though. I didn't have sex until university but that was my choice, for several reasons. Nothing to do with preserving my virginity until marriage - that's what abstinence is, yes?

Most people care more about having a real relationship with meaningful sex and it takes time to find someone you can have that with. Sex can be an amazing way to connect with someone and personally, if things don't work out in bed the last thing you'd want to do is marry that person. Abstinence gets my back up, on a personal level, because it comes hand-in-hand with "no sex before marriage."

How would you "teach" it, anyway? "It's okay not to have sex" is easy enough for anyone to say. And? I'm genuinely curious, having never come across actual abstinence teaching.

message 31: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wendywins) | 103 comments I like what Shannon said. If abstinence teaching means "save your precious virginity for marriage" it is reinforcing the old virgin=pure and good, non-virgin= somehow damaged goods or impure,etc.,"fallen", "bad". That is not healthy. Its better to discuss real life consequences, discuss perhaps how having sex does NOT lead to committment necessarily...etc.

message 32: by Kipahni (last edited May 29, 2009 05:33AM) (new)

Kipahni | 21 comments Charly wrote: "Nicole, You raise some very intersting points. I think an important factor to remember is that the further back in history you go the earlier young couples were wed or mated or whatever term you wi..."

That is a really good point, historically people were younger when they married so being a virgin when you married wasn't that big of a deal (by that I mean it didn't take a lot of effort to save it till the wedding)

I asked my husband how it is that there are so many virgins here and he said;
1. boys and girls aren't allowed to be alone together till you're married.
2. social pressure (having sex outside marriage brings shame on your family and is punishable by death)
3. Marriage at a young age, His mother and father were 14 and 16, I just witnessed the engagement of his brother (19) to a neighbor girl (15)

message 33: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wendywins) | 103 comments Planned Parenthood letter I got recently stated that an estimated 750,000 teens will get pregnant this we have a long way to go to prevent teen pregnancy.

Kipahni...historically, people (on average) did not live so long, childhood was not recognized as covering kids past puberty, children were expected to work etc and not freed from labor in order to play and go to school but to become "little adults" with all the duties that entails etc. Most did not have access to schooling anyway...

Shannon (Giraffe Days) (giraffe_days) Yes Wendy's right - people were pretty much "old" by 40, if they even lived that long. When you only have four or five decades to live, it makes sense to start having your own family at a young age - and with that comes responsibilities such as Wendy mentioned.

Outside of Africa, at least, this is no longer the case - and there are other problems associated with having kids later in life, like an increase in the probability of down syndrome.

Kids in developed countries are lucky to have so much leisure time, but sex isn't the only thing they might do out of sheer boredom. I think, from reading the various responses here, that part of the issue is not so much teaching kids to refrain from having sex, but to refrain from applying peer pressure on others to do the same. Which is certainly valid, but not quite the same thing.

message 35: by Kipahni (new)

Kipahni | 21 comments

so here is something sort of along the same lines

aparently giving sexual favors for money is the new cool thing.

so who is to blame or again whose responsiblity is it to educate?

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