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August 1, 2010

Sex-Ed … Too Little, Too Late

Penis. Vagina. Masturbation. Lubrication. Homosexuality. Erection. Wet dream. Oral sex. Anal sex. Orgasm. Deep breath. There, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Why is everyone freaking out? 

Dalton McGuinty revealed plans for the new sex ed, and then backtracked under a hail of fire from concerned parents, community groups and church groups. Apparently, there are some folks out there who feel that certain topics, such as masturbation and sexual orientation, are not appropriate for primary grade students. Can of worms, open sesame. 

This issue is not really about the minute details of the revamped sex ed plan; the issue is not really whether to teach about the birds and the bees in grade three or grade two. Down to the nitty-gritty, this issue is about how some people in our society refuse to face certain facts: children in our society are surrounded by sexual ideas, children in our society are more sexually-aware than previous generations, and discussing safe sex practices will not encourage children to have sex. Let’s take a look. 

Sexual ideas: they’re everywhere! Turn on the television, open a newspaper, open a magazine, watch a music video, watch a movie, look at any advertisement; sex is everywhere. Afraid to talk to your 8-year-old about about sex? They’re already learning a lot of (wrong) information from what they see around them. By not talking to them honestly, you are allowing the media to step in and fill their minds with unhealthy, skewed ideas of sexuality, rather than straightforward information that might actually be useful. 

Sex news is old news! It seems to be true that children and teens are more sexually aware and sexually active than previous generations. This is likely partly because of the outside influences they are encountering (see above argument) and also because they are starting puberty at earlier ages. Young girls are getting their periods at 8, 9 years old; they need to know about menstruation, ovulation, etc BEFORE their periods arrive, not afer. Young people are experimenting with sexual practices; they need to know how to protect themselves BEFORE it’s an issue, not anfer. If you think by denying them information you are preventing the behaviour, think again. The children are already exploring their bodies, if not the bodies of their peers; real, honest sexual education is vital, both to ensure healthy sexual self-esteem, but also to ensure physically healthy behaviour. Isn’t it better to arm your offspring to protect themselves, then try to wrap their sexual selves in bubble wrap and pick up the (pregnant, STD-riddled) pieces later? 

Sex talk ≠ sexual practices! 

Bottom line: Parents feel it’s inappropriate to broach these topics in the classroom. Are they willing to broach them at home? Kids need information. If they can’t get it at home, they’ll look for it at school. If they can’t get it at school, they’ll look to their friends and the internet, with potentially devestating results. The point of sex education is really to equip the children and teens with information they need BEFORE they need it, not after. Like it or not, honest and real sexual discussions are necessary in school – shame on Dalton for caving. 

Talking about sexual feelings, development and behaviour will not lead young people to have sex. Young people have always had sex; it’s been happening since the beginning of time. The only difference now is that we have the knowledge to protect them from harm, and some are stupidly choosing not to pass it on. IF someone wants to have sex, they will, whether they know how to protect themselves or not. The statistics on teen pregnancy and STD attest to this. Young people who don’t want to have sex, won’t. 

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