See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Teaching kids about sex.

I don't know, what do you think?
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In Britain, as in the States, sex education in the schools is a very controversial subject - especially if one happens to be a practicing Catholic with traditional morals. Catholic schools, sans school sisters, no longer command the unlimited confidence parents who enroll their children in most of these institutions once had. Not all are down the tubes, although attempts are often made even in the good schools to broaden curriculum to include stuff primary school children should not be exposed to in their formative years. As for public schools there seems to be no hope whatsoever.
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Nevertheless, I'm convinced that sex education should be conducted by parents and always age appropriate. Although as we know, many parents lacking sound moral teaching themselves, often living in irregular situations, are more or less unfit to train their kids. (Ouch!) Unfortunately their kid's education will be corrupted either by the immorality the parents example, sexualized culture, or inappropriate sex-ed in schools - which in some cases amounts to a form of indoctrination, as well as an incentive for kids to explore and experiment sexually. At least within a parochial system, faithful, stable Catholic parents, clergy, and educators have a better chance of coming together in order to arrive at a decision on what is appropriate sex education in the schools - although I say stay out of the primary schools.
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Fr. Blake of St. Mary Magdalen, Brighton, UK commenting on our sex-saturated society and the need to protect children posted the following opinion: "Rather than burying their heads in the sand Catholic parents and Catholic schools really do need to take sex education seriously. If it is not done by parents and schools, it will done by our society and our children's peers, and done very badly, with disastrous results." (Link) His statement raised the concerns of a few of his readers which developed into quite a discussion, demonstrating how sensitive a topic this has become in our new age of the theology of the body openness.
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My friend Jackie Parkes - Catholic Mother of 10 no less, had much to say in response, and said it very well I might add. Mrs. Parkes is no prude - and she knows what she is talking about when it comes to this topic. She is gifted with a candor and insight reminiscent of St. Catherine of Genoa when it comes to defending these issues. I have the greatest respect and admiration for both Fr. Blake and Mrs. Parkes - but I have to side with Jackie on this one.
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Primary school sex education outside the home strikes me as inappropriate. At best, if the school believes it is warranted, it would be better for the teachers to send literature or suggestions to parents - for their discernment, leaving it up to the parents to decide whether or not their children are prepared for the information or not - and then leave it up to the parents to educate their children appropriately, after all it is their responsibility, not the schools.
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When I was in 6th grade Sr. Lillian took it upon herself to instruct our co-ed class about sex. My friends and I got pretty turned on by it all and decided to do our own 'research'. My parents found some of my notes and pamphlets Sister gave us and they imagined I was doing all of this study on my own, and it hit the fan. When they realized Sister was teaching us about sex they said it must be okay and never said another word.
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Several things were wrong with that experience. First of all, my parents did not know Sr. Lillian was going to conduct a sex-ed class - they had never been informed - they also abdicated their responsibility as parents leaving the matter up to Sister. Secondly, My parents did not recognize that my eagerness to learn about it was in large part due to the fact I had already been sexually abused. Third, my parent's over reaction contributed to the idea that sex was dirty, which canceled out all that they had taught me before that, while confirming for me they were living in sin. (My mother was divorced and remarried to my dad outside the Church.) Fourth, if Sister was attempting to educate us about sex with the hopes we wouldn't have to learn about it on the street, or experiment with sex, and all the rest of the stuff people fear will happen to kids if they are not properly educated in sex, she was dead wrong. Sr. Lillian just got us off to an early start. We may have learned about the good sex from her, but we went for the bad sex anyway.

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There are no easy answers, but exposing kids to sex before they are ready is definitely not the solution.

6 comments:

  1. One of the better-done efforts I have seen was when our younger son was a 7th grader at a Catholic middle-school/high-school. There were separate sessions for the boys and the girls (I think this is important). The presenter was a Catholic doctor for the boys, and a Catholic nurse for the girls. It was done in the evenings so that the same-sex parent could attend with the student. It was 2 sessions for each sex. My husband was favorably impressed with the ones he went to with our son. We don't have any girls, so I didn't go to that one, but my friends were favorable about it. Subjects covered were adolescence and bodily changes, dating, and morality; marriage was also touched on.

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  2. Melody - that sounds like an excellent program.

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  3. When I was 9 I asked my mom where babies come from. She explained it in the simplest terms. I thought it was disgusting and said that would never happen to me. Of course a few years later the hormones kicked in and I went boy-crazy and all of a sudden it didn't seem disgusting anymore.

    The point is that she kept it SIMPLE and at my level.

    Unfortunately by the time I was about 10 I found my parents copy of "Everything you always wanted to know about sex (but were afraid to ask}" and it was all downhill from there.

    That book is about the filthiest thing I have EVER come across.

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  4. Sex, it needs to be taught--if it's the parents or a good program like Melody talked about--it needs to be taught. I was a bad mom--just gave my kids a book and said if they had any questions to ask--they were good, straight-forward books--and I found out later, that the entire neighborhood ended up reading them. Oy!

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  5. Our Catholic Lesbian principal, and I got into a discussion about this and my children were removed from sex ed in grade school. I was an eye opener for me about Catholics, and traitors. My poor children had to sit in the office during sex ed.. as if they were being punished - in front of other student who happened by the office. I learned that there are covert Cathlolics who destroy things. Books, teachings, childrens minds - that sort of thing. The youngest grades had women genetalia drawings but disguised as roses in their religion books. When I approached the principal with this revelation she looked at me as if I were crazy...

    With the suprise death of that principal , and a new Priest things got better. I appreciated a parent-teacher who reinforced our values at home about sex. She was a blessing.
    .........................
    Here is a little video of me trying to control all of the various mediums that my children are exposed to -inside ,and outside of our home. It gets pretty hard sometimes, and Sometimes I break things.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dva9oRy4cQ4&feature=related

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  6. Anonymous4:14 PM

    "Sex has to be taught". Is this one of these rights? Well I am well into my 50s and still ponder what the answer should be...
    Nobody ever told me about sex, but I did end up married with children (and still married).
    It's like riding a bike, I can't see learning to ride a bike in a book...
    However if it can be done, it should be by the parents, or when the children are in high school, with good, really good catholic teachers, boys and girls in different rooms. Certainly parents should be the first teachers, but it doesn't always work out this way.
    I am more and more leaning on the side of Alice von Hildebrand and her prudence, her wisdom, her purity. I like her Catholic approach, esp. when it comes to sex. Sex is a serious subject, and it should not be wide in the open.I like to see women and young girls with veil in church, to me this is the first lesson about sex, the fact that the woman was made beautiful by God and that she should be protected.
    It's like the occult, you learned it from somebody who should not have taught it to you, and it clings to you in the wrong way for the rest of your life.

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