Thread: Sex Education Board: Oblivion / Ship of Fools.


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Posted by scuffleball (# 16480) on :
 
Is teenage pregnancy a Bad Thing? (The suggestion seems to be yes; as much as teens may physically be capable of having children, it discourages them from participating in education, and they may be financially unable to look after a child.)

Is the government paying disproportionate attention to teenage pregnancy? On the one hand, apparently we have the highest rate in Europe, although reports differ as to whether that is going down or up. On the other hand, it seems like a bit of a bogey for distracting people from more pressing matters like the economy, or even to give the impression of doing something.

Where does the responsibility for sex education lie - with the state, the church, the family or a combination of these? What should sex education contain? Does telling YPs about sex just encourage it? Would it ever be inappropriate to discuss "where babies come from" with children? At what age does it become appropriate?

I had sex education in years six and nine, but it seemed to focus overwhelmingly on preventing STIs and teenage pregnancy and thus focussed on contraception and ways of sexual activity that could lead to childbirth. There was nothing on LGBTQQIA matters and nothing on consent culture or sexual assault. Also, in this country I've not come across churches doing sex education.
 
Posted by Jane R (# 331) on :
 
OK, I'll bite.

You say:
quote:
[teenage pregnancy] seems like a bit of a bogey for distracting people from more pressing matters like the economy, or even to give the impression of doing something.
You say yourself that teenage pregnancy makes it harder for girls to participate in education. Many studies have also shown that one of the most important predictors of a child's educational attainment is how highly educated his/her mother is; in other words, graduate mothers tend to have children who go to university. The economic success of the UK is dependent on having a highly qualified workforce.

Can you see the connection between teenage pregnancy and the economy yet?
 
Posted by SvitlanaV2 (# 16967) on :
 
I don't get the impression that teen pregnancy is gaining more attention than the economy!

It would be interesting to know how British churches are dealing with sex education, if at all. Of course, most of our churches don't have many teenagers, but for those that do, questions about sexual behaviour must come up sometimes. American evangelicalism is challenged by teen pregnancy, but this doesn't seem to be so much of a problem in the UK. Maybe this is because British evangelicalism is more middle class.
 
Posted by L'organist (# 17338) on :
 
You ask whether teenage pregnancy is a Bad Thing but then go on to mention (as in the thread title) "Sex Education".

I'll put my cards on the table: my school did precisely nothing about sex education until the second year of the sixth form (Year 13) when someone came from the Family Planning Association and gave a dry, but accurate and factual, outline of the different methods of birth control, including its efficacy, ease of use, and whether or not it gave any protection against VD (as STIs were then called). We were then shown a film, made for the military, the message of which was that STIs were a bad thing since they decreased the efficiency (and possibly availability) of fighting men. Not brilliant but very funny.

My own parents gave out no information at all - it was assumed that the oldest child would inform the younger ones.

Consequently, I was determined that if I became a parent my own children would have questions answered factually and would, in any case, be presented with reliable information in a way appropriate for their age from the word go. And that happened.

I didn't label it "sex education" even in my own mind since I didn't think of it as such, rather as another part in preparing the children for adult life.

We covered conception, contraception, STIs, emotions, privacy ("they're called private parts because they should, usually, be kept private"), consent, making assumptions that might not be valid, the age of consent, dangerous behaviour, sexuality, etc. I'm not sure it was completely wonderful but we did the best we could. We took the same approach about drugs (legal and illegal), alcohol and tobacco.

The subject of teenage pregnancy (wanted and unwanted) arose: we took the line that every baby should be a wanted baby by both parents - and that a big part of that was that they be mature enough to be able to support a baby financially as well as emotionally. We also stressed that an unwanted pregnancy would be an indicator that they had been engaging in unsafe sexual behaviour which was foolish as well as dangerous.

Its worked so far: no surprise grandchildren to date, none on the horizon; furthermore, no string of partners and no messy relationship break-ups - previous "squeezes" are still friends.

My children's friends have been fairly astonished that they have always felt they could discuss anything at all with us - in fact, we've been applied to for advice on more than one occasion.

Is that "sex education"?
 
Posted by Lyda*Rose (# 4544) on :
 
@ l'organist: [Overused]

This discussion reminds me of a youth retreat I attended when I was 17 (too late! [Frown] ). We camped out in the parish hall of a church near the beach, had tons of fun during the day, and in the evening discussed everything. We saw a couple of good films- one on facts and one on relationships. There was a question box out for those who didn't feel like asking out loud. We had four hip adults we could corner during the day for a one-on-one. I could have used such a weekend at thirteen.
 
Posted by cliffdweller (# 13338) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by scuffleball:

Where does the responsibility for sex education lie - with the state, the church, the family or a combination of these?

Yes.
 
Posted by Leorning Cniht (# 17564) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by scuffleball:
Is teenage pregnancy a Bad Thing? (The suggestion seems to be yes; as much as teens may physically be capable of having children, it discourages them from participating in education, and they may be financially unable to look after a child.)

Pregnancy by people who are not prepared to have a child is a bad thing. This must surely include all schoolgirls. But suppose a woman leaves school at 16, gets a job, gets married or otherwise coupled, and is ready for a baby at 18 or 19? Technically, that's teenage pregnancy, and it's not necessarily a problem.

quote:

Where does the responsibility for sex education lie?

Ultimately, with the parents, which is where the responsibility for the rest of a child's education lies. The fact that most parents choose to use the state-provided system does not exempt them from responsibility for ensuring that their children are appropriately educated.

The school is certainly responsible for providing good education about sex and relationships, just like it is responsible for providing good education about trigonometry. As a church community, part of the way we form our youth must be about how to relate to one another in a Christian fashion, and should certainly include discussions of consent, respect and the like. There's no real need for the church to deal with the mechanical aspects - those will be covered elsewhere.

quote:

Would it ever be inappropriate to discuss "where babies come from" with children? At what age does it become appropriate?

My children were present at the birth of their younger siblings - they know exactly how the baby gets out. They're not old enough to have had detailed discussions about the mechanics of how the baby gets in in the first place. They know in general terms, like they know about pollination of flowers in general terms. I know several 5-7 year olds, however, who don't seem to understand the connection between a woman being pregnant and a baby coming to live in the house, which I find bizarre: some of them have younger siblings, and all of them know families with pregnant mothers and/or infants.
 
Posted by Boogie (# 13538) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by scuffleball:
Would it ever be inappropriate to discuss "where babies come from" with children? At what age does it become appropriate?

My children were aged four and six - it was in answer to a perfectly natural, innocent question. No embarrassment whatever.

The younger the better imo. Far better to discuss it long before the hormones are raging.

[Smile]
 
Posted by Jade Constable (# 17175) on :
 
Leorning Cniht - my mum became pregnant with me at 17 but had left school, was living with my bio dad and was working. So when I was born, she was a teenage mum but I never like to describe her as such for the reasons you say, she was living an adult life.

Having lived in hostels between the ages of 17 and 22, I know a lot of teenage parents. I must say that the majority are very good parents.
 
Posted by no prophet (# 15560) on :
 
Why is the sky blue?
What is death?
Where do babies come from?

All are asked about the same way at about the same age. Just give the answers, and if you are unwilling or uncomfortable, this says something about things you need to address within yourself.

It's rather better that your 10 year old daughter tell you that she thinks a boy in her class had an erection about a girl (or she herself) he was staring at, or your son telling you that he had one staring at a girl, than them having these experiences with no-one to discuss with, and no way of acquiring the social skills to deal with. If they don't know the first thing about erections and arousal and attraction and lust and love etc how on earth are you ever having these talks?
 
Posted by IngoB (# 8700) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet:
Why is the sky blue?
What is death?
Where do babies come from?

All are asked about the same way at about the same age. Just give the answers, and if you are unwilling or uncomfortable, this says something about things you need to address within yourself.

Like brushing up on Rayleigh scattering, telomere shortening and the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis? [Biased]
 
Posted by malik3000 (# 11437) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet:
Why is the sky blue?
What is death?
Where do babies come from?

All are asked about the same way at about the same age. Just give the answers, and if you are unwilling or uncomfortable, this says something about things you need to address within yourself.

Like brushing up on Rayleigh scattering, telomere shortening and the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis? [Biased]
No, like brushing up on your knowledge of yourself to discern within yourself whether or not you might or might not have any hang-ups about sex, particularly hang-ups that would be unhelpful when trying to communicate with your child.
 
Posted by L'organist (# 17338) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet:
Why is the sky blue?
What is death?
Where do babies come from?

All are asked about the same way at about the same age. Just give the answers, and if you are unwilling or uncomfortable, this says something about things you need to address within yourself.

Like brushing up on Rayleigh scattering, telomere shortening and the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis? [Biased]
Depends on the age of the questioner.

Most children have a "WHY" stage - the age varies but mine started at 3.

Start by showing how holding up a glass of water makes a beam of light (torch) bend. Hold glass up to the light and see the egde looks blue. Talk about rainbows. If you have a prism show how the rainbow (spectrum) comes from "white" light. The sky is blue because the best bit that we can see from all the little droplets in the air is blue - so blue sky.

Death is more complex and the children were 4. We had to deal with a grandparent who went from frail health to death in 3 days. "X is more ill than they were and so doctors are trying to make better in hospital. They will do their very best but sometimes, usually when you are old, the bits of you that need to get better are worn out - like your beach sandals - and can't be mended properly, sometimes not even at all. [period of day or so with reports that the "fixing" is proving very difficult] It could be that fixing X is not going to be possible; if that is the case then X will gently wind down (like your monkey cars) and fall asleep. Eventually they won't wake up because they will be taken to be with Jesus.

They won't need their tired old body which couldn't be fixed, but because X was a very special person, not just to us but to other people as well, we must make sure that we look after it properly. So we go to church to thank God for giving us X for so long, for X being such a special person, and to ask him to look after X now they are with him. It is a sad thing for us that we won't see X any more but we must try to be happy for them because they will have no more pain, will be able to walk properly again, etc. Because X can't walk in they will be in special box called a coffin and we will put some flowers on it because they like flowers. When we have said our thank you to God for X we say goodbye before either burying the box in the ground (in fact we had a "special fire just for X who loved bonfires" before burying the ash in a special way). Although X is dead they will always be alive with God and in our memories because we love them - we don't stop loving X just because we can't see them.

Children came to the funeral - because X (Grandpa) was important to them just as much as to us - and they were very impressed that there were so many other people there to whom their Grandpa had been so special. As the coffin left they stood on the pew and waved goodbye, saying "Goodbye Grandpa". They didn't go to the crematorium but were at the wake. They have reported in the years since that to them it seemed totally natural and have been shocked when contemporaries have not been allowed to attend funerals because they were "too young" at 10 or 12.

They totally "got" death insofar as it was a natural process and it meant not coming back the next day. I think being able to put it in the context of God and an afterlife helped.

Babies: we have a garden, we had a duck lay eggs when they were tiny (fortuitous!) and we were able to watch the ducklings emerge. So could explain babies in terms of eggs very naturally. How they get out was more complex since they were born by caesarean and had seen their mother's scar... vaginal delivery was explained when they asked (aged about 7, I think).

We also had to deal with: how do cars work, why does the tide come in, why does food go "off", why won't the pen come off my favourite T-shirt, etc, etc.

Age appropriate answers - if they're seven then you too must imagine you are 7 (8 at most) and adjust the information accordingly but NO LIES.
 
Posted by Moo (# 107) on :
 
Some children do not ask questions, and then the problem is how to give them the information. I am strongly opposed to forcing a conversation on a child who might not be interested at the moment.

My older daughter did not ask questions. When I was pregnant with her younger sister, she knew that the baby was inside me and would come out when it was big enough. She never asked what made the baby begin to grow in the first place. AFAIK she still did not know at the age of six.

I bought an excellent book called How Babies Are Made. It talked about reproduction in plants and animals, and made the point that for human beings sex is part of a relationship.

I bought several other books at the same time, and handed her the stack. She was used to having stacks of books handed to her. She never said anything about the book or asked any questions.

When she was in third grade, the school presented a lesson on the physical changes that accompany puberty. They sent a notice to parents the day before stating exactly what would be covered. I made a point of sitting down with her and telling her all about the topic. I wanted to make it clear that I knew all about this and was willing to talk about it. When she got home from school the next day, I asked whether the lesson had included anything I hadn't told her. When she told me I hadn't said she would grow hair under her arms, I figured I had done a pretty good job.

Every time the school presented a lesson about sex they sent home a notice telling what would be covered. Every time I sat down with her the day before and told her what I knew. She never asked many questions. That just wasn't her style.

Moo
 
Posted by lilBuddha (# 14333) on :
 
My mum would have been thrilled with your daughter.
 
Posted by Alogon (# 5513) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by scuffleball:
it seems like a bit of a bogey for distracting people from more pressing matters like the economy, or even to give the impression of doing something.

Unintended or foolish pregnancies and births have
a huge effect on the economy. Just look at any dysfunctional inner-city neighborhood. The ripple effects are almost endless.

quote:

Where does the responsibility for sex education lie - with the state, the church, the family or a combination of these?

When we wish to educate ourselves in most subjects, the more sources we have at our disposal, the better. Why should sex be any different?
 
Posted by Cod (# 2643) on :
 
I find it interesting that while the UK has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe, the Netherlands has the lowest - however, the liberalism that the Dutch are so famous for does not appear to extend beyond its laws. It is a conservative place with strong family values. My guess is that their success is being completely open about sex and discussing with children all they need to know within a strong moral framework. While the Netherlands often gets held up as an example of anything goes, the reality is actually the opposite.

I suspect that questions about sex are treated just as questions on anything else, ie, not taboo and without awkwardness.

NZ also has a high rate of teen pregnancy, stemming a tendency to treat discussion of sex as slightly icky and (more importantly) the tendency of the flower of its youth to get blitzed every Friday and Saturday.
 
Posted by MrsBeaky (# 17663) on :
 
As a teacher I have been involved in sex education and as a parent I have been involved in sex education and I count both roles as very important. Being willing to listen and to answer questions are, in my opinion actually more important than the teaching materials themselves, though there are some good ones out there. Children and young people need safe places to discuss the arena of sex.
However sex education is also hilariously funny as evidenced in the following (completely verbatim story)

School for boys with SEBD. Year 7 return to my English class after a sex education lesson with the school nurse.
Pupil 1 who is fairly over-wrought by the whole experience: "Miss, Miss you're never going to believe this but a boy can get an erection for no real reason- it can just happen when he's on the bus....!"
Pupil 2 who is the class cheeky chappy "And can I just say that's another good reason for using public transport!"

Oh how we laughed, we had tears pouring down our faces.
[Smile]
 
Posted by LeRoc (# 3216) on :
 
quote:
Cod: I find it interesting that while the UK has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe, the Netherlands has the lowest - however, the liberalism that the Dutch are so famous for does not appear to extend beyond its laws. It is a conservative place with strong family values. My guess is that their success is being completely open about sex and discussing with children all they need to know within a strong moral framework. While the Netherlands often gets held up as an example of anything goes, the reality is actually the opposite.
Thank you, I liked that.
 
Posted by Jane R (# 331) on :
 
Leorning Cniht:
quote:
But suppose a woman leaves school at 16, gets a job, gets married or otherwise coupled, and is ready for a baby at 18 or 19? Technically, that's teenage pregnancy, and it's not necessarily a problem.
No, it isn't. Forty or fifty years ago it was fairly normal. Nowadays, however, if you want a halfway decent job when you leave school you should stay in education at least to the age of 18; most skilled and professional jobs require you to continue training until your early 20s. Incidentally, the school leaving age in the UK is being raised to 17 in September this year and will be raised again to 18 in 2015, so your hypothetical 16-year-old will not be able to go off and get a job so she can get married for much longer. I don't know much about the American system but I gather that if you want a high school diploma there you have to stay until 18 as well; if you drop out early, without your diploma, you can look forward to a bright future flipping burgers at McDonalds or staffing the till at Wal-Mart.

If you have a baby in your late teens, continuing your education or training is very difficult. You may find yourself having to abandon it altogether until your child is old enough for school; by then your contemporaries will have finished their own education/training and perhaps gained a few years' work experience. You'll probably catch up eventually when/if they start having children themselves, but in the meantime it's hard to watch your friends going out partying every night while you stay at home with a screaming baby and endless mounds of dirty washing.

Jade, I'm sorry if it sounded like I was saying teenagers are bad parents; this was not my intention. All I'm trying to say here is that having babies is hard work which distracts you from other things, like gaining qualifications for a career. It's easier than it used to be to go 'back to school' and get the qualifications later, but not as easy as doing it at the same time as all your friends at an age when The System is geared up to expect you.

[ 14. May 2013, 09:10: Message edited by: Jane R ]
 
Posted by scuffleball (# 16480) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jane R:
Leorning Cniht:
quote:
But suppose a woman leaves school at 16, gets a job, gets married or otherwise coupled, and is ready for a baby at 18 or 19? Technically, that's teenage pregnancy, and it's not necessarily a problem.
No, it isn't. Forty or fifty years ago it was fairly normal. Nowadays, however, if you want a halfway decent job when you leave school you should stay in education at least to the age of 18; most skilled and professional jobs require you to continue training until your early 20s.

I'm largely sympathetic to this line of argument, but I recall making this argument to a friend who suggested that some of her colleagues at school had hoped to leave school at 16 to help manage a family farm. [Confused]

Likewise, it's no longer seen as acceptable to take being a housewifr/househusband as a career path. One couple I know getting married in a couple of weeks argued it like this - "What if I died or became so ill I could no longer work?"

All the young mothers I know have treated their babies well, but there is perhaps a certain selection bias in that they are mostly university students.
 
Posted by Bostonman (# 17108) on :
 
quote:
Originally posted by Jane R:
Leorning Cniht:
quote:
But suppose a woman leaves school at 16, gets a job, gets married or otherwise coupled, and is ready for a baby at 18 or 19? Technically, that's teenage pregnancy, and it's not necessarily a problem.
I don't know much about the American system but I gather that if you want a high school diploma there you have to stay until 18 as well; if you drop out early, without your diploma, you can look forward to a bright future flipping burgers at McDonalds or staffing the till at Wal-Mart.
Pre-2008, you could look forward to a burger-flipping career without a high school diploma. At the moment, I'm pretty sure those are the only jobs college graduates can get... Everyone else is worse off!
 


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