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Subject: A pragmatic question regarding sex ed especially in the US rss

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Moshe Callen
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Zaphod's thread about Perry's answer to a question on sex ed made me consider a more pragmatic question.

Many of those in the US and elsewhere who oppose sex ed in schools do so because they do not think the subject appropriate to be taught in schools at all. They will in the US reluctantly allow it if no forms of contraception are discussed which is the nature of "abstinence only" education.

So the pragmatic question is: If parents would not let their children attend a class which discusses contraception, then is something better than nothing?

Personally, I strongly oppose trying to force parents to have their children taught things like sex ed if they do to want-- whatever I may personally think of that choice. So far as I can see though, this is a case where something is better than nothing and if one tries to force full blown sex ed down the throats of parents opposed to it, those parents' kids will get nothing in the end instead.
 
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There's a lot wrapped up in this. At what point does the parental prerogative end and the welfare of the child become more important? I mean, a parent might object to the way that lots of events are presented. The American Civil War or WWII (notably the Holocaust) spring immediately to mind. Whether or not the moon landings actually happened. The theory of evolution.

There's some pretty cold, hard facts about sex education that study after study demonstrate. When you teach "abstinence only," you don't do anything to actually reduce sexual activity, but you do a terrible job or preventing teen pregnancy and/or STD transmission. That's bad for the kid to encounter. And the objection is really pretty vacuous - the fact that your kid knows how to use a condom doesn't make them any more likely to have sex, it means that if they actually do they'll have a better understanding of steps to take to minimize lasting consequences.

So I'm sorry, but I think this one's a no-brainer. If you think your child should abstain, that's a message you should deliver. But since a teenage pregnancy or STD has lifelong consequences and there's not only no evidence that "abstinence only" works but copious evidence that it doesn't, the public interest is for the kids to know what they're up against and deal with it.

A parent's attitudes towards sexual activity shouldn't leave a child unprepared. Any more than a parent's attitude towards science or history should allow them to dictate the curriculum that their children are presented with. "Abstinence only" is a moral and/or religious view and little more. It has no more of a place in our schools than teaching creationism in science class.

Parents can teach their kids the morals they believe in at home. They shouldn't get to put everyone's kids at risk for pregnancy/STDs because of those morals.
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Fine but if your school is in a fact where the overwhelming majority of parents would not let their children attend such a sex ed class, how is offering it actually helpful?

EDIT:
I mean helpful to that majority.
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Yes, and no. If you are teaching about sex its hard to see (unless it is purely the biological act) how you can leave out contraception (after all you will need to discus pregnancy, thus its avoidance becomes a subject). It will (as far as I case) thus be an unavoidable subject (unless you refused to answer questions). So whilst its better to teaching something rather then nothing it also seems rather pointless to exclude it. I wuold agree that no one shuld be forced to attend Sex education classes, but nor should such people be allowed to say what others are taught. Nor do I believe that abstinence should be taught if you refuse to teach other pregnancy avoidance methods. Either it’s about the biological act or its about safety. If it’s the latter it should present all options in a fair and open way and not force one set of values down everyone’s throats.
 
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Why is it that when Sex Ed is discussed, so many people insist on using the phrase "down the throat"?
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Geosphere wrote:
Why is it that when Sex Ed is discussed, so many people insist on using the phrase "down the throat"?


Its a form of contraception and abstinance combined. I call it the Ruby Ring thing.
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whac3 wrote:
Fine but if your school is in a fact where the overwhelming majority of parents would not let their children attend such a sex ed class, how is offering it actually helpful?


If a majority of parents believe that beating children that answer questions incorrectly is a good way to stimulate education, should we let them do that as a part of the curriculum?

I could give a rat's ass what the majority thinks when we're discussing issues that are up to the parent to teach their kid in the first damned place. Get your morals away from my kid's education and let the teachers teach stuff that's backed up with actual facts. Like the fact that abstinence only education completely fails to actually prevent teenage sexual activity and, in doing so, increases the chances that a child will become pregnant, impregnate someone, and/or contract an STD.

If a majority of parents in a district think the Big Bang is a load of crap, should they be able to vote it out of science class?
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perfalbion wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Fine but if your school is in a fact where the overwhelming majority of parents would not let their children attend such a sex ed class, how is offering it actually helpful?


If a majority of parents believe that beating children that answer questions incorrectly is a good way to stimulate education, should we let them do that as a part of the curriculum?

I could give a rat's ass what the majority thinks when we're discussing issues that are up to the parent to teach their kid in the first damned place. Get your morals away from my kid's education and let the teachers teach stuff that's backed up with actual facts. Like the fact that abstinence only education completely fails to actually prevent teenage sexual activity and, in doing so, increases the chances that a child will become pregnant, impregnate someone, and/or contract an STD.

If a majority of parents in a district think the Big Bang is a load of crap, should they be able to vote it out of science class?


I think the point is, are you helping these kids if they do not receive any sex education, to which the answer is no. Its true that abstinence sex education is not as good as all encompassing sex education. But no sex education is worse then biased sex education, at least they will be taught one method rather then no method. I agree that’s it’s not fair to force your values on others, and that its wrong to allow foolishness (not matter how many believe in it) to determine education. But that is not the question.
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perfalbion wrote:
whac3 wrote:
Fine but if your school is in a fact where the overwhelming majority of parents would not let their children attend such a sex ed class, how is offering it actually helpful?

How are these at all comparable?
Quote:
If a majority of parents believe that beating children that answer questions incorrectly is a good way to stimulate education, should we let them do that as a part of the curriculum?

same as above
Quote:
I could give a rat's ass what the majority thinks when we're discussing issues that are up to the parent to teach their kid in the first damned place. Get your morals away from my kid's education and let the teachers teach stuff that's backed up with actual facts. Like the fact that abstinence only education completely fails to actually prevent teenage sexual activity and, in doing so, increases the chances that a child will become pregnant, impregnate someone, and/or contract an STD.

If a majority of parents in a district think the Big Bang is a load of crap, should they be able to vote it out of science class?

You're conflating two different things. A more accurate analogy would be a class that taught all the physics behind big bang but never used the term explicitly as compared to students getting no physics whatsoever.
 
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perfalbion wrote:

If a majority of parents in a district think the Big Bang is a load of crap, should they be able to vote it out of science class?


Yes?
 
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whac3 wrote:
How are these at all comparable?


School curriculum shouldn't be "popularity contests" that poll parents for "what's the right thing to teach and the right way to teach it?" That's how they're comparable.

The choice should be "teach sex education or don't." It should not be "the majority think abstinence only is the way to go, so that's what we should teach."

Quote:
You're conflating two different things. A more accurate analogy would be a class that taught all the physics behind big bang but never used the term explicitly as compared to students getting no physics whatsoever.


No, I'm not. If it's OK for a parent to say "my beliefs say that kids should be abstinent so we shouldn't even expose them to the concept of a condom and why you'd use one," then how is that any different than saying "My beliefs say that the Big Bang theory of creation is wrong so we shouldn't teach that."

You get to have your own opinions. You don't get to have your own facts.
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MasterGeek wrote:
perfalbion wrote:

If a majority of parents in a district think the Big Bang is a load of crap, should they be able to vote it out of science class?


Yes?


OK, so the majorty of parents beleive that Christians are in fact all mad and the only cure is flyiing planes into buildings, should that be taught in schools?
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perfalbion wrote:
whac3 wrote:
How are these at all comparable?


School curriculum shouldn't be "popularity contests" that poll parents for "what's the right thing to teach and the right way to teach it?" That's how they're comparable.

The choice should be "teach sex education or don't." It should not be "the majority think abstinence only is the way to go, so that's what we should teach."

Quote:
You're conflating two different things. A more accurate analogy would be a class that taught all the physics behind big bang but never used the term explicitly as compared to students getting no physics whatsoever.


No, I'm not. If it's OK for a parent to say "my beliefs say that kids should be abstinent so we shouldn't even expose them to the concept of a condom and why you'd use one," then how is that any different than saying "My beliefs say that the Big Bang theory of creation is wrong so we shouldn't teach that."

You get to have your own opinions. You don't get to have your own facts.

If the alternatives were as you portray them then we'd agree, but I don't think that they are.
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perfalbion wrote:
whac3 wrote:
How are these at all comparable?


School curriculum shouldn't be "popularity contests" that poll parents for "what's the right thing to teach and the right way to teach it?" That's how they're comparable.

The choice should be "teach sex education or don't." It should not be "the majority think abstinence only is the way to go, so that's what we should teach."


You get to have your own opinions. You don't get to have your own facts.


I agree (which was my first point) You either teach the whole thing (and yes I think abstinance needs to be part of it, fact and figures and all) or you do not teach any of it. But I also think that its better to have soomething then nothing. It would be better to learn some correct physics then learn no physics at all.
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MasterGeek wrote:
perfalbion wrote:

If a majority of parents in a district think the Big Bang is a load of crap, should they be able to vote it out of science class?


Yes?


Contrary to popular belief scientific evidence is not decided by public opinion
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Zaphod wrote:
MasterGeek wrote:
perfalbion wrote:

If a majority of parents in a district think the Big Bang is a load of crap, should they be able to vote it out of science class?


Yes?


Contrary to popular belief scientific evidence is not decided by public opinion


If it's taught alongside other possibilities, fine, but when it's taught as "how it happened" and it's as much a theory as anything else, then I have no problem with parents not wanting it there if alternatives are not presented.

 
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MasterGeek wrote:
Zaphod wrote:
MasterGeek wrote:
perfalbion wrote:

If a majority of parents in a district think the Big Bang is a load of crap, should they be able to vote it out of science class?


Yes?


Contrary to popular belief scientific evidence is not decided by public opinion :p


If it's taught alongside other possibilities, fine, but when it's taught as "how it happened" and it's as much a theory as anything else, then I have no problem with parents not wanting it there if alternatives are not presented.



So if Bert down the pub publishes a book about how he vomited up the universe last Tuesday after a few too many pints of Old overcoat and enough people believe him that should be taught in schools as if its as valid as the Big Bang (lets call it the Big Spew)?
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I don't see why knowledge is ever bad. It doesn't make sense to teach kids things they aren't ready for, but once they are, tell them everything that might be useful to them.

I went to a private middle school (not a church school, but it did have a chapel) and they had very complete and useful sex ed and drug ed curriculum. This "Just Say No" crap for either is useless.

Trying to please extreme views by teaching less is just making us dumber as a country. Look at the idiots in the current Republican field for president - do you want your kids to grow up like them?
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No matter how alluring, I don't think it helps to PRETEND REALLY HARD that teenagers aren't interested in sex.
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Fwing wrote:
No matter how alluring, I don't think it helps to PRETEND REALLY HARD that teenagers aren't interested in sex.


It does not help to pretended that nobody is interested in sex.
 
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whac3 wrote:
If the alternatives were as you portray them then we'd agree, but I don't think that they are.


Moshe, let's review some simple facts that are demonstrably true through scientific research:

- Abstinence only education does not prevent kids from having sex.

- Comprehensive sexual education does not increase the rate of sexual activity for children that receive it.

- Abstinence only education does not result in lower teen pregnancy rates.

- Abstinence only does not reduce the incidence of STDs in children.

So the only thing that abstinence only sexual education can be demonstrated to do is increase teenage pregnancy and STD incidence when compared to a more comprehensive approach to sexual education.

Explain to me again why a moral view should trump demonstrable facts for what belongs in a school curriculum?

Teach your kids the morals you want to teach them at home. Arm them with knowledge at school. Abstinence only sex education is roughly the same as "none at all" since it avoids actually discussing lots and lots and lots of stuff about sex. It's not the school's job to impose a particular morality on children.
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MasterGeek wrote:
If it's taught alongside other possibilities, fine,


Please describe other scientifically valid possibilities for the creation of our universe other than the Big Bang. You'll find some in M-theory/string theory and those should be taught (though they're arguably too advanced for primary education curriculum). There aren't any others.

If "teaching possibilities" means "teach what my religion teaches," then the answer to that is a resounding "no." Religion and religious creation stories are not a "theory" that can be demonstrated with any factual basis (which is required for something to be a "theory" in a scientific sense). I doubt you'd be OK if we were to teach the Greek, Egyptian, Zoroastrian, or Hindu creation stories as reasonable scientific "theories."
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perfalbion wrote:
whac3 wrote:
If the alternatives were as you portray them then we'd agree, but I don't think that they are.


Moshe, let's review some simple facts that are demonstrably true through scientific research:

- Abstinence only education does not prevent kids from having sex.

- Comprehensive sexual education does not increase the rate of sexual activity for children that receive it.

- Abstinence only education does not result in lower teen pregnancy rates.

- Abstinence only does not reduce the incidence of STDs in children.

So the only thing that abstinence only sexual education can be demonstrated to do is increase teenage pregnancy and STD incidence when compared to a more comprehensive approach to sexual education.

Explain to me again why a moral view should trump demonstrable facts for what belongs in a school curriculum?

Teach your kids the morals you want to teach them at home. Arm them with knowledge at school. Abstinence only sex education is roughly the same as "none at all" since it avoids actually discussing lots and lots and lots of stuff about sex. It's not the school's job to impose a particular morality on children.


Researchers studied the National Survey of Family Growth to determine the impact of sexuality education on youth sexual risk-taking for young people ages 15-19, and found that teens who received comprehensive sex education were 50 percent less likely to experience pregnancy than those who received abstinence-only education. Among youth participating in “virginity pledge” programs, researchers found that among sexually experienced youth, 88 percent broke the pledge and had sex before marriage. Further, among all participants, once pledgers began to have sex, they had more partners in a shorter period of time and were less likely to use contraception or condoms than were their non-pledging peers. However I can’t find anything that says that STD’s are more prevalent in abstinence students.
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whac3 wrote:
So the pragmatic question is: If parents would not let their children attend a class which discusses contraception, then is something better than nothing?
To answer that question we'd need to now for sure that teaching abstinance only has an actual benefit over no sex ed at all. I am not convinced that it does, and would not even be surprised to see an actual negative effect.

And for me the actual pragmatic thing to do is to teach full on sex ed, and let those parents who would withdraw their children from it take their own responsibility for teaching on that subject (and the STD's and grandchildren that will be the product of that responsibility).
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whac3 wrote:

So the pragmatic question is: If parents would not let their children attend a class which discusses contraception, then is something better than nothing?


No.

The course content (Sex Ed) doesn't even matter, the answer is always No. Schools need to teach subject matter in a way that that is as broad and full as possible, in all subjects that are taught. Teaching about the reproductive system and omitting contraception is what Anatomy class is for.
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