What abstinence-only sex education does to parents, children and teenage pregnancy rates
In 2015, California Judge Donald Black ruled that abstinence-only sex education is not actually sex education, provides inaccurate information, and does not follow California curriculum guidelines. This might lead one to ask, “What does abstinence-only education do?”
A while ago I put forward a theory about some ways I suspect this lack of proper sex education affects teens and parents, especially teen pregnancy rates – and it all started with a doll. . In the summer of 2013, there was a wave of stories about a doll that angered some parents.
The big problem with this doll was that, well … she has a penis. You know, like a little human boy.
And the people were angry. Anger spread through the Facebook posts, with people saying “the business makes me sick” because little girls “don’t need to know anatomy.”
Barely a week later, a the petition began to circulate demanding that the Fremont Board of Education remove a book titled Your health today schools. Parents were outraged (outraged!) That the book “exposes young people to sexual games, sexual fantasies, sexual bondage with handcuffs, ropes and blindfolds, sex toys and vibrators, and extremely additional instruction. inappropriate for 13 and 14 year olds. -old age.”
All accounts show that although the book does say that sex can be pleasurable, none of the information was presented in a salacious or provocative manner. In fact, the book has been described as “The most boring prose imaginable” and includes lessons explaining that students should never do what “they are comfortable doing” – but that was not enough to stop parents from panic.
My favorite complaint was about one of my favorite parts of the book. Concerned parent: “There is a section that tells you how to talk to potential partners about your sexual history. What does that have to do with a 14 year old child? I don’t see it at all.
I wish these stories were some kind of sexually negative anomalies, but they are not.
There has been a similar wave of discussions about teaching children appropriate anatomical terms for their body parts. People got angry because their children were given exact information about their bodies. They have, for example, been exposed to words like “vagina”.
So, what gives? How did people become convinced that a correct education is abhorrent and inappropriate and something to protect their children from, lest their innocence be destroyed.
I have a theory. I blame abstinence education only. But not the education of this generation. Parents who think that they can protect their children from their own genitals and that they should not even talk to their teenagers about sex (lest they have any ideas) belong to the previous generation, it is that is, the first generation who received mass abstinence-only education. in their schools.
Let’s take a brief break in the story.
Abstinence-only education began to receive limited federal funding in 1982 through the Adolescent Family Life Act. After the Welfare Reform Act was passed in 1996, which provided for $ 50 million a year to be allocated to abstinence-only education, it quickly spread when schools ran out. money decided that receiving the funds was more valuable than, you know, teaching kids anything about sex.
Since then, these programs have continued to teach children that sex is only for marriage, that condoms don’t work, that there are terrifying invented diseases, and that people (especially women) who have had sex are the equivalent of chewing gum. , food that was handed out, used duct tape, an empty toothpaste tube and other equally absurd / disgusting things.
Here is this cartoon that uses real examples of real lessons taught in abstinence-only programs.
The problem with abstinence-only education is that its whole purpose is to tell children do not have sex – and by sex they mean penis in vaginal intercourse because that’s all they want kids to know exists in this world – basically scaring them.
It’s about that scene from Bad girls:
Except without condoms. Because according to them, condoms A) don’t work, and B) would apparently tolerate sex.
That’s right. No information is given in case they have sex. They are not taught anything about their bodies. They are taught that condoms are ineffective and that they are taught that it is very important not to engage in sex with penis in the vagina. Because purity.
Fun fact: There has been NO noted decrease in adolescent sexual activity. However, he possesses summer:
It seems people are also very confused about consent, with cases coming to light at an alarming frequency involving unconscious girls being raped by classmates who think “no no” is the same as “yes”. teen boys don’t think anal sex is something they need explicit permission for.
It seems that besides not teaching our kids anything about sex – except, you know, don’t – we don’t teach them anything about their bodies and how they function and well nothing about how to communicate with partners.
So here it is, 35 years after abstinence-only education started to stick its head, and 18 years after it started to spread like wildfire.
The kids who were most likely to get it, those who were in middle school and high school from 1996 onwards, are around 30 and over now (although it should be noted that since funding has been in place in some places since 1982, counting the conservative cheek from 1996). They are reproducing now.
And I believe it’s the parents who can’t handle the penises on the dolls, the people who can’t care for their children who learn the proper names of parts of their anatomy, and the people who think that understand healthy sexual communication has nothing to do with 14 years old at all.
By teaching this generation nothing but the negative, the world has led them to become parents as if the existence of sex, and indeed their own body parts, is something they can and should hide. to their children.
So what’s the answer here? It’s delicate. While I am still pushing for comprehensive sexuality education for children, we have been kind of put in a corner here.
We have a generation of adults who treat sexual knowledge like plutonium and fight tooth and nail to hide it from their children. So I think we have to start at the top.
Teach adults. And it’s important that we don’t just teach adults how to have sex that they enjoy (although it’s great). We have to help them undo what their previous education did. We need to help them teach their children, who will likely be exposed to similar nonsense in schools. We must be the antidote to abstinence-only education.
Today there is a generation of parents who, when it comes to teaching their children about sex, are basically like the blind leading the blind. Let us be their guide.
JoEllen Notte is a writer, speaker and researcher. Since 2012, she’s been writing about sex, mental health, vibrators and how none of us are broken on her award-winning site, The red headboard.
This article originally appeared on The red headboard. Reprinted with permission from the author.