Its an argument I've had before, and I'm likely to have it again.....public sex education.
When I was in school, our district took the abstinence only approach. However, that didn't stop 4 of my personal acquaintances from getting pregnant before graduation. One girl had her baby and a very supportive family; she finished high school. One girl had a miscarriage, and everyone suspected it was self inflicted. Another girl probably got an abortion, speculation of course, but there was never a baby. And the last went her whole senior year pregnant with twins.
These were just girls I knew personally and was friends with. There were more I'm sure.
Sex ed was known as Human Growth and Development. It took the SEX out of the education and transformed it into a reproduction centered course. If the end result wasn't a baby, it wasn't worth mentioning. Sure, we had our graphic photos of STDs, but that was to enforce the "abstinence is best policy. We didn't learn about birth control, we didn't learn about condoms. We learned that sperm and eggs make babies. We learned what signaled puberty. We learned about body hair. We didn't learn about sex.
And we didn't learn about it in high school either. My mom opted me out of the program in the 5th grade, and I begged to be allowed to attend in the 6th grade. Then in the 7th grade I took the final course. In high school, the required course for health was lifetime personal fitness, and it was about being physically healthy.
I commend the Anchorage School District in started reproductive education so early, but I wish they had had a course required to prepare teens for healthy sexual lifestyles. Maybe then, the resources would have been available for my friends. Perhaps they wouldn't have been embarrassed to ask for condoms. Perhaps they would have understood better the consequences if they hadn't just been told "Don't Do It!"
What are my personal feelings? I think sex should be for committed relationships just due to the emotional gravity associated with such a personal act. Am I right? Probably not. There are many healthy non-monogamous relationships. And if they are doing it safely, and enjoy it, I'm not one to judge their choices. I just personally like the idea of waiting to have that experience with someone you are committed to.
My most recent argument on the matter turned into something nasty. Someone I knew posted on their Facebook wall a meme condemning sex-ed teachers, saying they were unfit educators if they were going to hand out condoms. I tried to explain that some children don't have the benefit of parents who are equipped or prepared to teach them about sex, and so they need someone who will. They need a safe environment to ask their questions so they can be prepared to make informed decisions. This person maintained that abstinence only was the best and was how most cultures treated sex. I corrected them, and used a tribe in Africa to illustrate my point (The Woodabe Tribe have a ritual spouse swap after droughts). They then used an ad hominem to accuse me of promiscuity. It hurt, but I knew it came from a place of ignorance and anger. I tried not to take it to heart, though it bothered me this was their attitude.
Its true, there is a significant number of children who enter adulthood without proper or healthy sex education. In the case of Christian religions, many are taught sex before marriage is sinful. This approach is negligent and ignores many of the details needed for healthy sexual maturity. Masturbation is bad, sex is bad, pornography is bad. And thus a generation of sexually repressed tension is created. Just like prohibition; there were countless Speakeasies and dangerous rumrunners and gangsters. Make something forbidden, and it pops up in the shadows unsafely. So these kids, too embarrassed to talk to their parents, but curious enough to go behind the bleachers, find themselves in compromised situations with unavoidable consequences. Which could have been avoided if they had a proper and healthy sex education.
Do I think there are parents ready to help their kids? Of course! But do I realize there are some who aren't? Yes I do. And that is why sex education, not just reproduction, need to be taught in public education. You can opt your child out of anything, but it should be available to kids who wouldn't otherwise have the resources to make good decisions where sex is involved. I for one hope my kids will be able to come to me with their questions, but if they are too embarrassed, I want them to have a safe place where they can. And if they do make a mistake, I will be there for them no matter what. I apologize for the Glee reference, but when Finn brings Quinn home and tells his mom, she says Quinn is welcome to stay with them as long as she wants. Now that is a good momma. And that is who I want to be.
I don't think babies should be having babies. I even feel I was too young and immature to have babies when I did. I don't think babies should ever be punishment for choices people make. If safe sex practices are taught and birth control is readily available, unplanned pregnancy would happen with less frequency. Which is a win for Pro-Life supporters. But unfortunately, that battle is only half won because most pro-life supporters are Christian conservative and don't believe in teaching about birth control, let alone distributing it. They deny one of humanity's greatest drives and most basic needs. Which is ignorant and irresponsible. It's not our fault we evolved to be as sexual as we are, and fertile as young as we are. But we are intelligent enough now to exist without our biology and only procreate when we want to. Sex doesn't mean babies. And its not some dirty sinful act. Its natural, and virtually everyone is driven to want it. The best approach in my opinion is to prepare and to educate. Not to ignore and forbid.