the baby and the bathwater


Gay Sex Education for 11 year olds?
April 28, 2009, 8:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Apparently some organisations believe that if parents of 11 year old children decide not to allow their children to attend sex education classes where they are taught about gay sex, it is an infringement of their children’s rights.

But what about the parent’s rights to make decisions about their children’s upbringings? What about their responsibility to govern what their children watch, see, look at, read, and engage with as they go through their informative years?

In fact, there is probably more of a case to say that a child has a greater right to have parents who take such responsibilities seriously, than to have some well-meaning organisation dictate the pace of their loss of innocence. And sadly, this lack of parental wisdom is more often than not the ‘right’ that is denied them.

Most 11 year olds are still innocent enough to giggle at the word ‘boobie’. Let’s not deny them their fun too early on.

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2 Comments so far
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Neil – I’ve recently had my eyes opened to the reality of the interest/awareness of sex for kids as young as 10/11. I have had to discuss sex and relationships (including straight and gay sex) with my 11 year old boy because the reality is that within schools their friends are talking about it and seeing it at this age or younger.

Kids have access to the internet and mobile phones and within 10-15 seconds can access extreme hard core pornography (video or images) by simply googling the word ‘porn’ (note that if kids misspell it then google helpfully corrects the spelling!!!). The reality is that they are exposed to sex/pornography in a massive way and it is outside of parental control and supervision (playground, mobile phone on way home, through Xbox, computer, TV, film, magazines etc). Gone are the days when the embarrassment of looking at the top shelf of magazines was enough to act as a way out of temptation.

I think that there are a couple of important issues here:

1. Parents can’t control what their kids access: It is a myth to think that parents can “govern what their children watch, see, look at, read, and engage with”. The availability of technology and the acceptability of sex in mainstream culture means that kids will find out about sex much earlier than their parents ever did. As a Christian parent I don’t like that situation but it is reality and we need to equip our kids to live in that reality not try and hide them from it.

2. Sex was created by God and it has an important place in life: Rather than hide away from sex, or make it a source of embarrassment/shame it is possible to explain it as something normal, created by God and to be enjoyed in the right circumstances. Sex education doesn’t have to equal loss of innocence. How parents talk about sex, their own hang ups/views will dictate this but we should not throw the ‘baby out with the bath-water’ and shy away from this.

3. How can we talk about things that we don’t agree with?: Some Christians find it difficult to talk about issues that they don’t agree with such as homosexuality and gay sex (as well as other religions, abortion, same sex marriage, stem cells etc) and appear to have the view that if they don’t talk about it then their kids won’t know about it.

Wrong, the kids will know and find out…it’s just that they probably will go to their other parent…’Google’. I for one would be much happier talking to my son about these issues where the whole issue of morality and beliefs can inform the discussion rather than them having the a/i-morral views of the internet.

4. I feel stupid and embarrassed: Do you ever remember being at school and being asked a question by a ‘friend’ about the meaning of some word or another related to sex and feeling embarrassed and stupid when you didn’t know the answer? I’d rather my kids had the information about this so that they had one less thing to worry about. Also, it just may be that if we do our jobs right that our kids may help change their classmates…maybe challenge them on their thoughts/attitudes?

5. It isn’t about ‘rights’, it’s about ‘responsibility’: The whole issue of ‘rights’ is a red herring. To me, it is more about what responsibility means. Parents who are wise will equip their children to live in an immoral world, to make decisions based on their beliefs, to be aware of other beliefs but to act in integrity. Responsible, wise parents should really think about how they do this best (i.e. not stick their heads in the sand and pray that God will stop their kids seeing/hearing about this – although that is always useful as well).

So, rant/response over…

Just to be clear though (as I can feel the flames coming)…\

– I don’t advocate promoting a ‘loss of innocence’ but I am aware of the realities of 2009.

– I don’t advocate telling all kids everything at the same time but I do advocate talking to kids when it is appropriate and based on their age/stage of maturity/interest or awareness of the subject.

– I don’t advocate children’s rights over parents rights…I think that is the wrong argument.

– I do think we need to equip our kids with the correct information, a moral framework and the thinking skills to make decisions about sex – but I think that parents should get their acts together and properly get involved. Teachers/schools shouldn’t have to take the role of parents.

– Let’s live in the real (fallen) world and have a genuine sense of what is available/out there but lets continue to pray/work for morality in the use of technology (net and phones etc).

🙂

– I do hope

Comment by Andy

Andy,
I don’t disagree with a lot of what you say, but in our need to be realistic we also shouldn’t be defeatist. Actually I can do a lot to make sure my children know where the boundaries are and why they are there, and make the risk of them ‘leaning out over the edge’ as small as possible. We shouldn’t mistake being intentional about protecting them as having our heads in the sand.

The problem with ‘information’ without ‘values’ is that with purely information (which is all we can honestly ask the education system to provide on such things) the boundaries are never made known at the point the information is given. And I find it intensely arrogant when educationalist like in this article tell me that they know what is best for my children in such things, especially at such a young age, where development is so varied. Whether we use the language of ‘rights’ or ‘responsibilities’ I have no problem in standing up and saying ‘I think I know what is best for my children’. If any parent says ‘I don’t think I know what is best’, then they should quickly try and find out’.

Comment by neilbennetts




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