Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sex Education Follies

I've said it before: if schools do the same thing for sex that they've done for reading and writing, then the survival of the race may be in serious jeopardy. New evidence that that may very well be the case is a new article in Time Magazine, in which the sheer silliness of the whole sex education regime is shown in lights.

According to Amy Sullivan, who wonders what those crazy schools are thinking, teaching math and all:
The program that helped Jewels provided her with information about birth control and encouraged her to try abstinence. But more important, it didn't end after two weeks, giving her and other students a safe space to return to for answers and advice. It is a model of what can happen when a community decides that it's crazy to spend more time teaching kids about decimals and fractions than about dating and sex. [emphasis added]
And this is all happening, according to the story, in Anderson County, South Carolina, where the Cothrans hail from. We're beginning evacuation procedures now.

The article points out that there is a battle brewing over the fate of $176 million dollars in federal abstinence money that critics argue is ineffective, although, as the article points out, teen pregnancy has, in fact, declined in recent years:
But the U.S. numbers have dropped dramatically since the early 1990s. Over the past 15 years, teenagers have had less sex than previous generations had, and they have been more likely to use protection when they have had sex ... South Carolina has reflected the overall trend of falling teen-sex statistics: birthrates in the state fell 27% from 1991 to 2006.
Over the period of time that abstinence programs have been emphasized, teen pregnancy has gone down, therefore abstinence doesn't work. Follow the logic there?

So what, in fact, do comprehensive sex educators do when they throw out "decimals and fractions"?
In most middle and high schools around the country, sex education is handled by an athletic coach doubling as a health teacher or by a science instructor who drew the short straw. Kristen Jordan is not one of those teachers. Walk past her classroom on the first day of sixth grade and you'll hear her leading the students in an enthusiastic chorus of "Penis! Penis! Penis! Vagina! Vagina! Vagina!" "Until they can use the real names for their body parts without giggling," she explains, "you can't talk to them about anything serious."
Yes, that's what serious people do: chant the terms for genitalia enthusiastically. I think I have now determined the Sex Educator's real strategy: to make sex so trivial and silly that no one will want to bother with it anymore.

Silliness: the Ultimate Contraceptive.

Would that we were so lucky. Instead, all we're likely to do is destroy what is left of the discretion that once limited sexual behavior and the social stigma that once discouraged pregnant outside of marriage. These are the only thing that ever worked, and the Sex Educators are intent on eliminating them.

I remember talking to a rural Kentucky doctor who practices in a county with a high teen pregnancy rate. He said that every time he sees a young pregnant woman come in, he asks her if she knew about contraceptives. He said they always answer, "Yes." "Then why did you get pregnant?" he asks. "Because I wanted to have a baby." These programs have nothing to say to teenagers who think this way--well, nothing that makes any sense anyway.

The article features a picture of a young girl, sitting next to her sex education teacher with a doll in her arms. This is another popular feature of these programs: having students keep a doll which they have to feed and whose diapers they are responsible for changing. This is supposed to teach them how troublesome children are so they won't have them. Of course there will be a time when they will have them, but there are no programs then to teach them that children, although troublesome, are a precious gift.

Forgot about that, didn't they?

This idea does the same thing that programs now in many schools which provide in-school child care for the children of unwed teenagers: it implicitly says, "It's okay to have children, and there will be no social cost to your decision to do so."

Then, of course there is the pop psychology, practiced by people with a weekend's worth of training and practiced on a full class of children. Going under the label of "skill-building" and "role-playing," these are programs that have never demonstrated any success in doing anything other than wasting valuable class time, but they are remnants of the influence of psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, whose techniques (used in a clinical setting on individual patients and conducted by a professional with many years of training) made their way into schools in the 1960s, and, unlike Transcendental Meditation techniques, another time-wasting 60s education fad, has yet to be laughed out of schools.

But the program is apparently popular in Anderson County, and they want more of it.
The only thing stopping them is money. "For $2 million," says United Way's Burdette, "we could put a Kristen in every school in our county for five years. But we don't have $2 million."
Thank God.

There is simply no school program that will take the place of the moral authority of adults who are willing to use it. Unfortunately, the adults gave up on moral authority a long time ago. Now all they can do is complain about it.


Dr. Keith DeBoer said...

I have seen first hand the wonderful effect Transcendental Meditation has on students and young people. They become calmer, more focused, and their grades improve too! Also their thinking and decisions are more balanced which ain’t bad either, just ask their parents! I think it’s an all around win for our children; the future leaders of our world. And there is a mountain of research that verifies these claims. Check it out at www.davidlynchfoundation.org

Unknown said...

I appreciate this intelligent, thought-provoking article. However, I must correct one side issue here: My children have been practicing Transcendental Meditation for several years now, and they have grown into mentally clear, emotionally grounded, and just overall happy people. Both of them tend to make good decisions, especially as they are moving through the teenage years. And yes, that includes decisions about sex (or the lack of it). Not that Transcendental Meditation should take the place of responsible parenting, but it can certainly provide added inner stability to a child when confronted with the onslaught of all the silliness.

bloggabix said...

I would like to support Maricha's comments on TM. I have been doing it myself for many, many years, and know how it helps. And there is a vast amount of research to support the usefulness of TM in education - beyond enough, I would say.

heosphorus said...

Some interesting points are brought up in this article. I do, however, wish to add some understanding about the Transcendental Meditation technique. I have practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique for many years, and it has brought profound benefits to all areas of my life. These benefits are also solidly documented and researched in hundreds of rigorously designed scientific studies. I know many young people and parents who also practice the Transcendental Meditation technique, and it's a great boon to kids and family life. The kids emjoy greater mental clarity and do better in school, and feel greater emotional balance; hence, better decisions and life-supporting choices. I highly recommend the Transcendental Meditation technique to young and old alike, for more information check out http://www.tm.org