Parents, you are being duped. You're being misled with sex education buzz words that sound responsible and feel as though they'll produce results you want.
Sadly, the exact opposite is true.
In a poll conducted by Pulse Opinion Research (Oct 2012) a majority of parents on both sides of the political fence, across a range of races want the same thing for their children. But in many school districts, they are getting the exact opposite. Parents want sex education that identifies the risk of sexual activity and defines ways to avoid those risks.
What are they getting?
How to put on a condom.
How to have “safe sex.”
Feel Good Words
Feel-good words like “Risk Reduction,” and “Comprehensive” sound reassuring to parents. These buzz words sound as though the sexual education taking place in their child's school is in line with what most parents want: education that exposes the risks of sexual activity and the benefits of delay.
Unless you dig into the bottom-line objectives of the sex education models happening in your district, you are likely blind to what is being taught. It's misleading, to say the least.
What Your Kids Are Getting
Sexual Risk Reduction (SRR) or Comprehensive Sex Education works from the basic idea that kids are going to have sex so let's help them reduce the risk. Give them condoms, tell them about their choices when they get pregnant, help them decide which partner is best for them (male, female, whatever). This model assumes there will be a sexual partner so one must communicate effectively with that partner in an effort to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancy. The general propose of SRR education is this:
- Increased condom use
- Increased contraceptive use
- Decrease the number of sexual partners
- Reduce frequency of sex
- Reduce teen pregnancy
- Reduce cases of STIs
- Reduce sexually risky behavior
- Reduce sexual activity
By themselves, these ideas sound good. Most of us would agree that decreasing teen pregnancy, STIs, and risky sexual behavior are good things, but SRR focuses mainly on the physical side of sexual activity and how one can have sex with less risk. The heart of the message isn't about value, worth, or identity, it's about participating in something proven to be unsafe with as little risk as possible.
Sexual Risk Reduction programs touch on avoiding sexual contact but they are heavy on the philosophy that teens and tweens will have sex so let's protect them. And since teens are heavily influenced by the attitudes and beliefs of the adults in their lives if we assume they will have sex are we setting them up to have sex? They may not say it but are they silently reasoning, “She thinks I will so I might a well…..”?
Whether intentional or not, SRR programs normalize risky, sexual behavior. When teens think “everyone is doing it,” even if that isn't the case, they are more likely to engage in risky behavior. This is human nature and works for healthy and unhealthy choices.
What You Want Them To Have
Parents want their children to wait as long as possible before engaging in sexual activity. We want them to understand the risks of having sexual contact, but we also want them to know how to avoid the pressure and deal with the natural feels all teens and tweens face.
Sexual Risk Avoidance Education (SRA) is what you really want. This model of sexual education teaches the value of the individual and the benefits of delaying sexual contact. In addition to the physical aspects of sexual contact, SRA also teaches the emotional, social, economical (and can include spiritual) aspects of sexual activity at an early age.
Though sometimes referred to this way, SRA is not abstinence-only. Students in these programs will learn how to:
- Develop healthy relationships
- Avoid or get out of dangerous or unhealthy relationships
- Develop sound decision-making skills
- Set future goals
- Understand sexually transmitted diseases and how to avoid them
- Evaluate the true effectiveness of contraceptive use
- Avoid inappropriate sexual advances
- And learn why saving sexual contact for marriage is optimal
This type of program takes a holistic approach rather than focusing only on sexual activity.
The avoidance model believes teens can avoid sexual activity while the reduction model suggests teens can't or won't avoid sexual contact.
What Can You Do
First, contact your district and inquire about the sexual education curriculum being used. Do not be belligerent or rude. Ask about it, ask to see it. It is your child and you do have a right to know what they will be taught.
Next, stay up to date with the current legislation on sexual education by stopping by the. I have met a few passionate and well-educated women from ASCEND when I studied and tested for the Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialist certification. They are top notch and focused on quality, researched-based sex education. You can stay up to date on sex education developments by visiting their website.
You may also want to check your local pregnancy centers and see if they do any work in area districts. Our pregnancy center supports a staff of SRAS certified teachers who go into the public schools to teach sexual risk avoidance. You could donate your time, money or even become an SRAS if you so desired in order to help.
Not Just A Public School Problem
This is not just a problem for public school parents. As members of The Church (the body, not the building), we must speak up for what is right. No, they cannot say that sex before marriage is a biblical sin in public school but they do not have to. Truth is truth even without the Christian language.
We must be the church. Some parents desperately want to homeschool but it isn't possible. Single parents, dual-income homes, or parents who want to utilize the public school system need to know what is being taught and need to understand what their children are hearing in the classroom. We can support them by supporting truthful sexual education models in public school.
If you want to go further, you can help by starting your child's sex education at home or offering to lead a class on the matter at your church. There are amazing resources for starting the sex-ed conversation at a young age all the way to discussing the changes your child's body will go through.
Did you know there were types of sex education models? Do you know what's being taught to your children?