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Getting Sex Ed Right

Last year, my 14-year-old daughter came home and told me that her friend had performed fellatio the previous night. Of course, she used vocabulary that would have been more appropriate in a high-school locker room, but I just went with it. As I struggled to keep from freaking out, I immediately asked her if she was engaging in the same types of behaviors. When she told me that she wasn’t, I did celebratory back flips in my head, but I knew we needed to continue this conversation. Over the course of the week, I spoke with some other moms, and one sent me an article about how our young women were performing “acts of service” for our young men without receiving any pleasure in return. The beginning of our conversation sounded a little bit like this:

Me: “Did [friend] have an orgasm?”

Daughter: “What’s an orgasm?”

Epic parent fail! My head was spinning! Wait, I signed all of those permission slips for you to participate in the “movies” and the sex-education talks in elementary and middle school. HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHAT AN ORGASM IS? The truth: most schools that teach any type of “Sex Ed” teach abstinence only, sprinkled with HIV prevention, and, if we’re lucky, a contraception cherry on top!

Schools are NOT teaching kids about sex! They are telling a bunch of hormonal teenagers to ignore the changes in their bodies and the crazy feelings they are experiencing, and just say NO! Is this approach working? Maybe for those compliant kids, but for most students who push boundaries, we are setting them up for failure. According to the CDC, about 25% of the sexually active population is between the ages of 15 and 24, but that age group makes up over 50% of the newly diagnosed sexually transmitted infections. Sex without the proper tools (education) can lead to detrimental effects that last a lifetime.

I had a friend tell me that her 14-year-old daughter believed that oral sex was talking sexy on the phone! I’ve had a principal of a charter school tell me that more students are turning to anal sex, so they don’t get pregnant. I’ve heard reports of high-school students having sex in their cars at school during lunch, middle schoolers performing oral sex in front of their middle school. We have seen an increase of violent sexual acts in hazing instances and predators grooming and seducing young people away from the safety of their homes. Maybe proper education by trusted adults (parents, teachers, therapists, counselors, clergy, etc.) can help eliminate some of the negative side effects of ignorance.

Let’s be honest: humans are sexual beings. Elizabeth Blackwell said, “Our school education ignores, in a thousand ways, the rules of healthy development.” This is even more true when it comes to the practice of sex ed. What is labeled as Sex Education does little to truly educate. As parents, it is our responsibility to make sure that our children develop healthy attitudes when it comes to sex.

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