Saturday, May 9, 2009

Let's talk about sex

Those words strike fear into every parent's heart. Oh, sure, most can choke out a brief birds-and-bees, this-is how-it's-done (the man's penis goes into the woman's vagina) lecture to their pre-teen; but I think that many people are truly intimidated by the prospect of continuing the dialogue as their kids enter their teen years. Teens' natural reticence and their tendency to want to learn from anybody but their parents also exacerbate this tendency. Thus, I think that many parents have ceded the sex-education responsibility to schools.

This past decade or so, unfortunately, abstinence-only has been the sanctioned message. Conservatives who back this approach believe that by discussing birth-control options, you tacitly approve teenage sex.

Sorry, I don't buy that! Messages promoting sex are all around us; so if we're not discussing with our kids the issues, choices, and ramifications of this activity, they're going to get their ideas from these places instead. It's like only telling someone: You CANNOT have chocolate cake! and then surrounding them with pictures and videos of rich, creamy, double-fudge cake. Sorry, you can't have that cake; it's bad for you and can make you fat! No diet tips, no suggestions for substitutions, no discussion of emotional triggers that make them crave the cake, etc.

Yeah, like THAT'S gonna work!

So, I was glad to read in The Wall Street Journal that Obama is going to cut funding for these education programs and funnel it toward programs that take a more realistic view of the whole issue -- which means, yes, promoting abstinence as the safest choice; but also teaching kids that they need to take precautions if they do decide to have sex. Says the story:

"Seventy-five percent of the funds would be set aside for programs that have been proved, through 'rigorous evaluation,' to delay sexual activity, increase contraceptive use (without increasing sexual activity) or to reduce teen pregnancy. An administration official said that no abstinence-only programs have met those standards. The rest of the money would be available to develop and test 'innovative strategies' for preventing teen pregnancy. Officials said abstinence-only programs could qualify for these funds."

Way to go, Prez!

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