05 Jul Who has the instructions on what to teach our children? Parents role in sex education.
By Cinthia Jahnsen
The stork. An angel. Maybe a baby factory. A train. “Mom, where do babies come from?” Could this be one of the most dreaded questions that a parent is faced with? I was really worried about this topic of conversation when my kids became old enough to wonder about their bodies and where babies came from. I decided that it was best to teach my kids about their bodies using the proper wordage, and give them baby step answers until they are old enough to hear more. I found a great series called “God’s Design for Sex”. It teaches what kids need to know according to their maturity and age level. It’s not a book I read on a nightly basis, but I do read it to my children a few times a year to freshen up their memory.
Many parents have no idea how to deal with sex education with their children. It is a hard topic and to be honest not one that my parents talked to me much about. What does our public education system teach about sexual intercourse, abstinence, STD’s and relationships? Is it enough to rely on our public schools to teach our children about sex? Why is sex education an important topic for our kids?
Pregnancy and STD Rates in the US.
Even though pregnancy rates are at a historic low according to a study in 2014, there are still about 249,078 babies born to unwed teens ages 15-19 in the US every year. That is about 24 babies born for every 1000 teen girls in this age bracket. Not only do teen births cost a lot of tax dollars, teen mothers are more likely to be high school drop outs, have health issues and have a higher risk of jail time than non-teen mothers.
As for sexually transmitted diseases, more than “1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 8 (12.8%) are unaware of their infection.” These are not just adults carrying STDs but both males and females ages 13 and up, with gays and bisexuals being the most at risk. Since most do not even know they carry an STD, they continue to infect others. According to the CDC, (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) the average number of sexual partners in the lifetime of an American is about 6 for men and 4 for women. Hmmm…
Why are these numbers so high?
United States Standard for Sex Education
In the United States there is no required standard for sex education for our public school systems. According to Guttmacher institute, only “22 states…mandate sex education” and only “13 states require that the instruction be medically accurate.” Sex education differs from state to state, from district to district and school to school. Some schools start their sex education programs in elementary schools while others wait until high school. Some schools are only allowed to teach abstinence based programs while others teach preventative actions such as how to use condoms and other forms of birth control. Some schools have permission forms that need to be signed by parents, while others have opt-out options. Some do not require any permission or notice to the parents at all.
So what is being taught to your child? The answer is, we really don’t know. Kids are being given different levels of information across the country. This is a little scary.
Parents Role in Sex Education
- Teach them your expectations.
As parents, it is our responsibility to look after the welfare and well-being of our children and families. If we have certain views on what is acceptable and not acceptable when it comes to sexual behavior, it is our job to teach our child our expectations and the reasons behind it. Children should be educated in the proper procedure of sexual behavior (medically accurate), how to say “no” to unwanted advances, and the importance of healthy sex within a committed marriage. Before marriage abstinence in my eyes, is very important. The risks of pre-marital sex are too high, the hurt too strong and to me seems to lessen the sanctity and beauty of sex.
Perhaps abstinence should not be all that is taught. Parents should teach their children to be 100% faithful to their spouses and should be taught with correct terms about sexual intercourse, how to prevent pregnancies, (again, this is according to your own beliefs and expectations) and that sex is a beautiful thing within marriage. These are not things that can be taught at schools, but will most likely only be taught by parents. As parents, we cannot rely on others alone to teach our kids important topics.
- Be approachable.
Even though the “birds and the bees” topic can be uncomfortable, help children feel that they can come to us with important questions and problems, and that we are comfortably able to be a confidant, friend and example.
- Be educated.
Our adolescent youth, at times, will be influenced by their peers much more than they will be by their parents. Teach them young, be open to questions and communication. This is no small matter. You would not allow your child to cross the street without looking both ways, or jump into a pool without protection or knowledge of how to swim. Sex is a fundamental part of life. It is what creates families and bonds, but it can also create heartache, regret and even disease. Don’t take sex education lightly. Find out what your schools are teaching or if they are teaching anything and stay involved with what your child is learning. It might be that the schools’ version of sex education is not what you had in mind for your child. Make sure your child knows your standards and your expectations.