Sex Education In Her Child’s School?

26 Jul, 2012 at 7:00 am | Written by: Heather Riggleman

Each week, Jen, Leslie and I bring you our views on a hot topic. We want today’s conversation to be open and honest. Your comments will also increase your chances to win the more than $500.00 Kearney Staycation. 

This week we are discussing Sex Education. How young is too young? Is it okay for schools to pass out condoms to first graders or should the parents be solely responsible for a child’s understanding of sex? The basis of these topics are from the articles: CBS News: Condoms for First Graders? Mass. Elementary School Under Fire and Carnal Knowledge, the Sex Ed Debate.

**Heather’s View**

“Mom, Dad come quick! I found two king snakes and THEY ARE MATING!” Cheyenne screamed wildly while running into the camper to grab her camera. She pulled her grandparents to their feet and practically dragged them to the bushes as my husband and I followed to where her discoveries of the morning were procreating.

Cheyenne was only eight and she was a walking encyclopedia of animal facts, so it was no surprise to us when she began spouting king snake facts and their mating habits. Her grandparents blushed ten different shades of red while Cheyenne lectured in detail what those snakes were doing. I smiled, proud of my baby girl.

Now that she is a teen, she has a healthy understanding of her body, hormones, emotions and what sex is for. We were intentional about teaching her the facts of life. She knows it’s a gift and she plans to wait until marriage lest she disappoint her parents and God. And I pray she is able to stand her ground under all the hormones, emotions, and pressure.  I only wish I had the same confidence and self esteem she has. Instead, I was a statistic. I became a pregnant teen and I’ve been working with pregnant teens for the last three years.

As these last few years unfolded, I got to know each mom and her story; more specifically why she chose to have sex.  Their stories mirrored mine with comments like:

“All my friends were doing it.”

“I felt like I was missing out.”

“I just wanted to be loved.”

“If I want a boyfriend, it’s what I gotta do.”

“I thought he loved me.”

Their understanding of sex was much like mine. It was carnal, dangerous to do before entering into the bonds of marriage. The messages I heard from friends as well as adults was inconsistent and since I wasn’t given the talk other than “Sex is bad before marriage,” I became a statistic.

Because I was a pregnant teen, I have a different view about sex education. And if you ask me, sex education begins when your child can talk. All my kids learned their body parts and functions according to their age. I want them to learn from mom and dad that their bodies are a gift.

With that said, I don’t want other adults teaching my kids about sex education, I want to be sure the messages they are given are clear, concise, and uphold our family values. But in order to have a healthy understanding of sex, it needs to begin with mom and dad, at home; not on the playground or in a classroom full of hormonal boys and girls.

Granted I know there are kids who don’t grow up in homes with the lines of open communication, they are going to learn about it and they are going to do it. So with that said, I understand sex education in school, but I’d rather not have my kids be a part of the discussion right now.

My kids are going to hear about sex by the time they enter into Kindergarten. But before they get to the playground, my kids will have knowledge from their parents first.

 

 **Leslie’s View**

My girls aren’t in school yet.  Currently, they are almost 4 and 2.  I am well aware that it’s going to be a unique change (for all of us!) once my girls go to school.

After our last Thursday discussion, Sanae told me kids don’t get notes anymore.  They get dirty text messages.

Yikes.

Here’s the thing.  I want my kids to know what’s happening before they get those messages; before the teachers talk about sex and hand out condoms.

And they will.

Ella and I already have our “talks.”  Both Ella and her baby sister Gracie will know the good, bad and ugly about sex before it’s a “hot topic” at school.  We’ll make sure of it.  I am a firm believer that everything starts at home and Kyle and I will do our best to teach them. 

That being said, I know there are A LOT of kids who don’t have that opportunity.  Kids have to be taught.  Some are taught by loving parents.  Some are taught on the playground and yet others learn too late – when they’re staring at a positive pregnancy test. 

I’m all about sex education in the classroom.  The more discussion from educated adults, the better.  Why make it such a hush hush topic?  Do I think you need to give condoms to 1st graders?

eh. 

Most kids will probably think they are balloons.  But, it’s a way to start a conversation.  An important conversation.  While I believe it is best to wait until you are married or found the love of your life, I’m also not naive. 

Kids are having sex, folks.  Even when you tell them you’re against it. 

Wouldn’t you rather they are smart about it then get pregnant, have an abortion or get a disease? 

Talk, talk, talk, talk, TALK about it!  As a parent, I will talk their ears off about sex and my expectations.  Then if that doesn’t work, I will tell them the same thing I tell my nieces;

“If you even think about having sex before you are ready, I want you to picture my disappointed face right before you do it.”

Hopefully that will at least get them to stop and think.  ;) 

**Jen’s View**

Sex education.  I am for it.

I’m from the Midwest.  When I moved to Miami a lot of things shocked me.  One that sticks out in my mind is a night where my then boyfriend and I went to a hot tub.  We found two CHILDREN making out.  When I say children, I’m not talking about 16, 17 or 18 folks.  I’m thinking they couldn’t have been older than 13.  They were KIDS.  Right away my boyfriend (now husband) said, “There’s a reason not to raise kids on South Beach.”  (Before you e-mail, I’m sure there are many reasons TO raise kids in Miami.)  We Midwesterners just decided then and there that we would raise our kids back where we were raised.

Did I mention he was my boyfriend then?  We were living together.  We were not married. 

Abstinence IS the best choice.  I know that.  I didn’t abstain.  And I was raised in a WONDERFUL home where my parents concentrated on making me aware of my body, my ‘changes’ and what having sex could mean.

My kids are young.  Very young.  15 months and 3 years.  But we call things what they are.  My kids don’t say “Peepee” or even “privates”.  They say penis and vagina.  They know much about their bodies and I plan to keep educating them as they get older.  Both will learn about contraception as well as abstinence at home and I hope at school as well.   I believe that schools MUST give the facts because there are kids out there like the ones in Miami that don’t get the facts at home. 

The one thing that I would add is some kind of lessons about RELATIONSHIPS.  I think that kids have the facts.  They know much about how to get pregnant (and how not to).  What they don’t know is how to handle the FEELINGS they have as teens.  That is what I missed.  What is love?  What is lust?  How do I get a boyfriend?  Is it bad to be called a tease?  A slut?  That’s a more difficult discussion than the facts.  I’m not sure (other than home) how to incorporate these feelings talks.  But that needs to happen.

Before I’m done, here are a few statistics about US teen pregnancy:

  • Although only 13% of U.S. teens have had sex by age 15, most initiate sex in their late teen years. By their 19th birthday, seven in 10 teen men and teen women have had intercourse.
  • Compared with their Canadian, English, French and Swedish peers, U.S. teens have a similar level of sexual activity, but they are more likely to have shorter and less consistent sexual relationships, and are less likely to use contraceptives, especially the pill or dual methods.
  • Among teens aged 18–19, 41% report that they know little or nothing about condoms and 75% say they know little or nothing about the contraceptive pill.

Find more stats from the Guttmacher Institute here.

Please share your opinion!!  Remember not to attack points of view.  Please offer your own experiences or view on the topic.  Our goal is to open others up to different points of view.

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24 Comments

  1. Becky Hermann
    July 26, 2012

    We used the passport to purity program. It’s an awesome way or awesome tool to have the “talk” with your kids. It is a Christian based program that you can order online. It is with Dennis and Barbara Rainy  we did it at about age 10 or 11 I don’t remember but a dear friend told me to do it before they were too old and would be embarrassed by the conversation. I’m soooo glad I listened to her it really does work if they don’t get embarrassed. Now that she is 14 if I bring up reminded conversations I get the typical “I know mom that’s gross and embarrassing don’t talk about it”. 

    Reply
    • July 26, 2012

      LOL, Becky we did something simular with our oldest last year. She is getting ready to head into 7th grade. This fall her daddy is going to give her a purity ring after taking her to a fancy dinner. Can’t wait.

      Reply
  2. Ann Snider
    July 26, 2012

    WOW! All three of you agreeing about a topic! So fun! I couldn’t agree more with what you all said. TALK! TALK! TALK! and then TALK some more. I have been surprised over the years about what I thought I had clearly explained explained to my children only to realize that they truly hadn’t gotten it.

    I do want my children to hear about SEX from me first. I had sex explained from the neighbor lady. We start “talking” from the time our children are young–two or so.

    I do have to say that having others “add” to what we as parents have explained is so helpful. Just last week at my middle school daughter’s yearly physical the PA shared some thoughts with my daughter that, if they had come from me, would not have been well received. I appreciated this PA’s frank discussion with my daughter.

    With all that said, I will have to tell you that most parents are not like us. They aren’t having those discussions with their children. Look at the number of sexually active students we have in our schools here in Kearney. Do you know the pregnancy rate? It’s high. At least it’s high for my liking. So while I would love to think that my children know what is right and wrong and that we have certain standards in our home, the majority of families aren’t operating under the same standards.

    I like it that I feel my family is being helped to be raised by the community we live in. Grateful to be in the Midwest to raise a family!

    Reply
    • July 26, 2012

      Ann, I work with the Teen moms in Teen NET at KHS and you are right, the numbers for teen pregnancy have exploded this year. And I am so grateful we moved to the midwest too.

      Reply
    • Jennie
      July 26, 2012

      Ha, ha, Ann! I know. We rarely agree. I think we stayed away from the political issue of whether schools shold ONLY teach kids not to have sex. I think teaching contraception is actually where many people disagree? I’m not sure. I totally agree with you TALK, TALK, TALK!!

      Reply
  3. Kelly
    July 26, 2012

    I taught my kids the proper terms of body parts at a very young age. I remember my son talking to his grandma (my mother in law) he was three and he said “I just got hit in my penis and my penis really hurts.” I just remember her face of him using the correct terminology and her saying to me “you are teaching him those words” I just remember thinking and saying that is what they are called I know people have kids use childish words but why not teach them the correct terminology. He also told his grandma that his sister had a vagina. I know my mother in law did not agree with my teachings but my husband and I agreed it is better to know the truth and the correct terminology. Does anyone know of any good books to teach at home about sex education. To be honest I have not taught a whole lot yet and my son will be going into 5th grade. I think this is the year they have a sex education class. I think it is the parents job to teach about sex education at home but I know lots of parents will not. I remember a mom that in kindergarten refused to practice with her child how to write there name so I know they won’t teach about sex so I do think it’s good to have some sex education in school. I would just like some good resources to help educate my children they are ages 9 and 10 Please let me know if you can help me out. Thanks, Kelly

    Reply
    • July 26, 2012

      Kelly,
      It depends if you want a christian aspect on the resources your looking for. We used Passport to Purity, The Secret Keeper, etc. Here is a link to Christianbook for several resources: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/cms_content?page=2023190&sp=1033

      If you looking for something more broadbased, there is “Those are my private parts” by Diane Hanson, puberty survival guide for girls and boys, by Dr. Eve Ashby. That should get you started for what you are looking for. I’m curious to see what everyone has used.

      Reply
    • Jennie
      July 26, 2012

      My mom and dad work in schools also. It is amazing how much some parents depend on the school do educate on several levels. And then those same parents get super angry at the schools. I just shake my head.

      Reply
  4. Becky Hermann
    July 26, 2012

    Kelly,
    Passport to purity is awesome. That is what we used

    Reply
  5. Megan
    July 26, 2012

    In general, I would have said I’m really not all that excited about sex ed in school. I’m not against it (hey I am a teacher for goodness’ sake!) As I parent, I would much prefer to address all of this at home with MUCH prayer and MUCH reliance on my Bible and my God. As an educator, however, it makes me wonder. My first response to condoms in 1st grade would have followed yours, Leslie, they probably would think it’s a balloon. However, in a day and age where more and more kids are falling victim to sexual abuse and sex trafficking (by their PARENTS, no less) I think more kids already know about this than I would care to think. While I certainly don’t believe the answer is to teach all 1st graders in all detail apart from their parents’ watchful eyes, I do wonder if addressing this differently in school would help protect (or rescue!) some children who have become victims in the most gut-wrenching ways. There is a responsibility on the part of educators to at least make kids feel safe enough to come to them if they cannot go to their parents. With that being said, as an educator at a Christian school I hold my Bible as my authority. I understand that public schools have to tread carefully (I’ve taught there too) but I would much prefer to be in control as the parent. If my daughter were old enough and in public school I would be furious if the school gave her a condom or told her that safe sex was the answer. I understand that not all parents feel the way I do, but parents need to be taking the lead. Not all kids have the same needs, and I think schools need to consider parents and home life before moving forward through any of this.

    Reply
    • July 26, 2012

      Well said Megan and we love your perspective as a teacher. Thank you :-)

      Reply
    • Jennie
      July 26, 2012

      Megan, I agree. It is scary to think of all the terrible things that children go through in the US.

      Reply
  6. July 26, 2012

    I would rather have my sons hear this info from their dad and me. I want them to have a healthy understanding of their body and what sexual intimacy was designed to be. I guess if schools are going to be covering this info I would prefer a note be sent out to parents ahead of time. That way, those who want to hold their children out of school that day could.

    Reply
  7. Kendra W.
    July 26, 2012

    Although I do believe in teaching kids/teenagers I think there needs to be a line. I dont think young girls need to know how a male has an orgasm. My sisters were homeschooled and taught about sex. Then came time for high school and they decided to go To public school! I think it’s shocking the stories they tell and what they learn from their teachers and other highschoolers. I wish it was more of a home family topic. :)

    Reply
  8. Sanae
    July 26, 2012

    Just the slightest mention of the “s” word in my house has my boys burrowing themselves deep into the sofa cushions, hands over ears screaming “lalalalalala”. That is not an exaggeration! I need a redo button when it comes to talking about sex with my boys. However, I do preach to them all the time about respecting girls. And that the woman is always right. JK…sort of. Quick story….when my oldest was in fifth grade all his buddies were getting “the talk” at home prior to the school talk (except mine because he had his head in the sofa). One of his buddies came home one day (probably after comparing notes with his friends) and asked his mom to re-explain the part about the salmon and the eggs! :) BTW…you do get a note to let you know “the talk” is coming in 5th grade and you do have the option to pull your child out. Of course, my kids would have been mortified to have been singled out like that and I wouldn’t put them in that position anyway.

    As far as the really young kiddos, if they don’t teach them in school about private parts, appropriate affection and inappropriate touching, etc and if it isn’t discussed at home, then those kids are at greater risk of being violated. We as parents can’t protect our kids 24/7. They have to be armed with the knowledge to protect THEMSELVES. This is the purpose of “sex education” when you are talking about young children. It’s not to teach them about the mechanics and condoms. I’m pretty sure they would be given the “Elmo” version if it was discussed in schools at that age.

    Reply
    • July 26, 2012

      Elmo version with condoms. he he – can you even imagine?? LOL! Loved the Salmon and Eggs comment!!

      Reply
  9. Lenay Palser
    July 27, 2012

    I agree with a lot of what you girls said. I am starting at home with my 6, 3, 1 year old and will continue to talk about it throughout their lives. I do believe in sex education if it is a program that teaches abstinence first, shows them consequences and teaches them about relationships. I do feel I get caught up in the “you can’t kiss, etc. till your married” with my 6 yr old girl. I do tell her it’s how God designed it, but don’t know what else to say, then no, you can’t til then. Any suggestions or other perspective? She is already boy crazy, curious and likes to push boundaries. I am praying now for all my children’s purity and relationships.

    Reply
    • July 27, 2012

      Lenay –

      That’s what I am wondering, too. When is the right age to go more in depth with the discussions? Right now I teach my 4 year old to respect her body – have confidence in herself, etc. When she asks about “where do babies come from” I don’t know how much to say. I suppose it depends on each child and their levels too.

      Reply
    • Jennie
      July 27, 2012

      I agree. I think I had a great relationship with my mother and I knew all the facts, but I didn’t save myself for marriage. Why? I really can’t pinpoint it. Maybe peer pressure. But I think I was more confused about my feelings and relationships. I don’t know the best way to show young girls that not having sex is respecting yourself. And if boys call you a ‘prude’ or a ‘tease’ it is okay. In fact, the girls who hold out and respect themselves can be the more ‘sexy’ and more ‘desirable’ young girls. Those who don’t are ‘sluts’ and made fun of. Teenage years are such difficult times. The most difficult part about it is that those years are when kids don’t want to talk to their parents. They’d rather find out information from their friends. So we have to arm them with a bunch of knowledge BEFORE they need it. UUUGGGGHHH!!! Being a mom is SO hard!

      Reply
    • July 27, 2012

      Lenay, I know how you feel. My daughter is 13 and GORGEOUS. Because we were teenagers when we had her, we stress the importance of waiting until marriage before having sex. We weren’t ready for the emotional toll as well as physical responsibilities that came with the territory. We question whether our kids will date, group date, or wait until they are 18 to date. I think experience is necessary in learning how to socialize and interact with the opposite sex but I want them to do it in a way that keeps them pure.

      Reply
  10. Lenay Palser
    August 03, 2012

    Thanks girls! It’s all a process and we learn along the way don’t we. I need to be on my knees more for the future. Thanks again! It’s nice to go through things with other women in the same boat. God Bless!

    Reply
  11. Jennie
    August 03, 2012

    Thank you! You are right. Being a mother is a process. We learn SO much as we are trying to teach.

    Reply

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