I don't know, what do you think?
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.
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.
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."
) 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are no easy answers, but exposing kids to sex before they are ready is definitely not the solution.