Spring is in the air, Mother’s Day has passed and many tweens and teens are curious about how moms become moms. Thankfully, schools across the country are very busy doling out bird and bee edification. While I’m mighty grateful I do not have instruct these pubescent young adults on the more intimate aspects of family life, I am very aware of the necessity.
Most parents are. A survey of California parents conducted by the Public Health Institute found that 89 percent of California parents – including 86 percent of evangelical Christians and 71 percent of people who self-identify as “very conservative” – support sex education that includes instruction about both abstinence and contraception. This support is consistent across racial and ethnic groups.
If you are part of the 89 percent then you will want to become familiar with BACHE (Bay Area Communities for Health Education). They have released an online “Parent Toolkit” that includes nine steps necessary to get comprehensive sex-education implemented in your child’s school. The toolkit is available at http://bacheinfo.org/Toolkit.
The information is enlightening and empowering. For example, California law prohibits abstinence-only sex education in public schools. In spite of this, there are many school districts in the Bay Area that are not complying. Also, sex education in public schools must be science-based, medically sound, free of bias and age-appropriate. As a parent, you have the right to review all school materials relating to sex education; including any books, pamphlets and other teaching aids used during instruction.
A comprehensive sex ed course should assist in formulating healthier relationships and healthier decisions. If done properly, it should include curriculum that incorporates decision-making skills, information about condoms and contraception, and details about the benefits of delaying sexual activity. All that being said, the best advice still comes from mom and dad.
According to a series of national surveys commissioned and released by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, teens say that parents have the most influence on their decisions about sex. The bottom line is, kids will learn about sex whether or not you want them to, so you may want to begin asking them what they think and what they already know and clear up any misconceptions.
Kids need as much help in understanding the meaning and implications of sex as they do in understanding how all the body parts work. And don’t worry, research clearly shows that talking with your children about sex does not encourage them to become sexually active.
Being a parent can be the most demanding job in the world, and is the most important. I think professor and educational author Dr. Elizabeth Stone says it right. “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
Contact Margaret Lavin at firstname.lastname@example.org.