It’s a discussion that we’ve had at our house. When should we have “the talk.” Unfortunately, the thing that spurs us on now is stories like the one I just saw today regarding what schools do for sex education.
In that story, officials in Iowa are in hot water with parents over having Planned Parenthood in to discuss sex education in a very graphic way. According to the story, parents complained because their kids were exposed to what they called pornographic pictures, anatomically correct models of sexual organs and simulated sex acts involving stuffed animals. All of this sounds a little fishy to me because first and foremost, why would you have a politically charged group like planned parenthood in to teach this kind of class? Granted, it is an issue they are most concerned with, but that said they are also in opposition to around half the American population and they regularly get involved politically. Is that something that we want to expose our kids to?
The sticky part of it all is that the issue would not be an issue if parents simply had “the talk” with their kids at an appropriate time. Parents don’t and as a result, the school feels like they need to so that kids understand sex and what it means. Unfortuately, that meaning is different to different groups. Religious groups say that sex should be saved for marriage. Planned Parenthood and their ilk say that we can’t stop kids from having sex so we better tell them about contraception.
What is the right answer? The ultimate answer is getting parents to do their duty again. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look like something that will happen any time soon. So given that, what is the practical answer to the problem. I believe that it can be found in simply informing kids of what the different views are. Sort of the “Fox News” approach to the problem, which means that we report and let the kids (and participating parents) decide. If you are going to invite Planned Parenthood to the classroom, invite a group that believes in the alternative viewpoint of abstinence. Let the information get out there and challenge kids with critical thinking so that they can make up their minds about what they believe. Get parents involved so that everyone is served and common sense reigns supreme.
Ultimately though, it takes me back to when the appropriate time for “the talk” should be. With the schools teaching sex ed earlier and earlier, it kind of forces a parent into the conversation when kids clearly aren’t ready for it. But with common sense and an age appropriate approach, it just might convince me that its a conversation that I can have at the right time with my kids, rather than have it too early.