7.23.2010

The Birds and The Bees - Feedback Friday Guest Post


I decided to take over Jen’s “Feedback Friday” post for today. Well, actually, I had to, because I lost a bet with her. My Cleveland Indians were unable to defeat her Pittsburgh Pirates in their inter-league series. So the loser had to write a Guest Post for the other one’s blog. But I’m glad to be here. My name is Craig and I run The Constant Complainer. Nice to meet you! And I believe I have a topic that will interest all of you.

Let’s start with a question. How old should a child be when you have “the talk” with them? I know there are a lot of talks you could have with them. But in this case, I am referring to “THE” talk – safe sex.

Recently, a school committee in Provincetown, Massachusetts, “unanimously adopted a condom distribution policy for the elementary school and high school. Under the new policy at Veteran's Memorial Elementary School, which has students from pre-Kindergarten to the sixth grade, condoms will be available for any student of any age that asks.” You can read the story here.

The most interesting part to the new policy – parents can’t say no to it. So realistically, a child could ask for a condom and the school would hand it over. And they might not even tell the parents about it. To make the situation even more embarrassing for the school district, the superintendent, Dr. Beth Singer, made an insensitive comment when she said that “she wouldn't expect first graders or kindergartners to ask for condoms, except to possibly blow them up as balloons.”

After a media backlash, Dr. Singer quickly tried to clarify the school’s stance by saying, “We’d have a conversation with the student that was age appropriate and not just hand over a condom.”

But that’s exactly my point. Who are they to decide if a child will receive a condom or not and who are they to make this decision without consulting the parent? Now, taking for granted that a pre-Kindergarten student is most likely not knowledgeable on what a condom is – some students in that school will be – and once one condom is given out, it will be the talk of the school. Does that cause the flood gates to open then?

I have a six-year-old daughter. And as much as I’d like to protect her from the world, I know she’ll pick up things and hear things that make me unhappy. But it shouldn’t be sex-talk in Kindergarten. In this case, I feel that the parents should be having the discussion. Not the school – especially if the policy doesn’t require the school to notify the parents. Apparently the Governor has stepped in to express his dislike about the new policy. It should be interesting to see where it goes from here…

It's Feedback Friday and YOUR turn to weigh in!

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9 comments :

  1. wow, I have a feeling you're going to be opening some flood gates with this one!

    I think the problem for me is that I'm of two minds on this issue (and I'll say up front, I'm not a parents, just an Aunt).

    First of all: Yes. It should be the parents having these conversations with their children. But it's obvious to me by the rate of teen pregnancy that these conversations just aren't happening. And if they are happening, then the kids are ignoring it. I think an open honest relationship surrounding sex between children and their parents is the #1 choice.

    Giving a kid a condom is not going to make them go out and have sex. BUT, if the kids going to have sex, then they better damn well be using a condom. I'm willing to bet that 9 times out of 10 it's not going to come from their parents. So would you prefer your teenager to have sex with no condom, or get one from the school?

    The elementary age thing makes it a bit more dicey to me. I agree with the principle that they'll probably use them as water balloons before their intended purpose, but why not let them play with them so that condoms aren't so taboo to them? Are they more likely to then use them when the time comes?

    We are so uptight about sex in this country. Not talking about sex, either with our kids or in the schools creates more problems than it solves in my humble opinion. I just think the rate at which teenagers are having babies is tragic, and anything that we can do to prevent that life-changing event will be for the better of everyone.

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  2. I completely agree with Sarah (the student knitter) and I'm the mother of 5, ages 19 to 6. Now I've had "the talk" as age appropriate with each of my kids. And with my 17 year old son who has a girlfriend, we've had some pretty frank discussions.
    Which I'm sure he was just thrilled with. But his father isn't in the picture and I'm all he's got. So we talk about condoms and birth control and of course how abstinence is the ONLY 100% way to prevent pregnancy (he's seen both of his former step sisters pregnant at the age of 16.) So we talk. A lot. But I also know that a lot of single moms wouldn't have these kinds of convos with their kids, especially their boys. And while I've offered on more than one occasion to buy my son condoms if needed (rather condoms than diapers!!!) I wouldn't mind if he was getting them from school. As long as he was getting them from somewhere!! Cause kids ARE going to have sex if they want to. I remember being that age and hormones rule. Plus, you think you're so mature and invincible. Usually we find that's not true the hard way.

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  3. I agree that sex education should start relatively early with age appropriate material. I believe its vital that we learn to be more comfortable with frank discussions on sex. But here is where I part ways with the education system(and maybe some commenters). It should NOT be giving condoms out. This is the role of the parents or of the youth who intends to have sex. If they are not comfortable with purchasing their own(or asking a parent), then they shouldnt be having sex. Regardless of the risk. Consequences are just that, consequence. They may be incredibly hard lessons but this is a fact of life. Taking away responsibility from our youth doesnt teach them anything except to pass the buck. And we sure have enough of that going around.

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  4. I agree with Tit for Tat - we need to teach (and learn) some accountability. Parents - not the teachers, not the government - should be teaching their children about sex.

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  5. It sounds crazy that an elementary school child would want or need a condom but kids are reaching puberty very early these days.

    Yes, if the school has agreed to give out the condoms, then, yes, they need to have a conversation with the child first.

    I expect the parents to open a line of age-appropriate discussion with their kids.

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  6. I am a Christian and have mixed feelings about this. I intern at a clinic where many clients have HIV, HepC, and other STD's. We cannot be holding our children's hands when they decide to deviate from the morals we raised them with. Hopefully they will use a condom so they don't die or bring an unwanted baby to this earth.

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  7. Emphasizing the kindergarten age aspect of this story is just sensationalizing the issue. It's pretty clear that at no time did Provincetown really expect to give a condom to a small child -- this was just one of those times when a policy needed to be more refined, and the vote was a little premature. If you want to cite a news source, why not use the latest information, say, here: http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100625/NEWS/6250328

    As the P-town Superintendent explains, the wording the policy needed to be clarified so that the community understands that young elementary school students are NOT going to be provided with condoms. The policy is aimed at those who are sexually active.

    I understand that you don't think young people in junior high or high school should be having sex. I don't either. But let's face facts; many students are sexually active. If parents are unable to persuade their children from having sex until they're responsible adults, one would expect that the children won't rely on them for help in practicing safe sex either. In light of that, I think it's best to have some means available to prevent STDs and other health issues.

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  8. I am just blown away that this is even a possibility...that they could even THINK about giving out condoms to children. This is stirring a lot of intense emotions in me right now so, I'll try to calmly explain my point of view.

    I was raised LDS, or Mormon. Whatever term you prefer. So, I'm a Christian. We have strict standards that we choose to adhere to. One very important one is no sex before marriage. This is a goal that I choose for myself, and I was a virgin 'till my wedding night, as well as my husband.

    These days it seems that people just expect that this carnal instinct is so uncontrollable that teens/adults HAVE to have sex and we'll just have to do our best to "protect" them from pregnancy. In my opinion: ridiculous bunch of crap. That's like saying emotions are uncontrollable, that every thing we do, every choice we make is not actually a choice at all, but done because of some uncontrollable force or instinct.

    I agree that there are A LOT of irreponsible people and teens out there. They have sex outside of marriage, therefore they're not ready to deal with the possible consequences. I think the problem lies with parents and society.

    If you're worried about kids getting diseases or pregnant, and think "we'll just prevent it with a condom" (which doesn't work 100% of the time), you're not solving the problem, you are encouraging it. Parents need to tell their kids ALL of the risks involved, then maybe they'll think twice.

    As for handing them out to CHILDREN?? I am seriously stunned. That is also encouraging children into sexual behavior. For people that support it, you are passing the buck. Basically saying "This way they're 'protected' I don't have to worry about it." Stop being lazy. Get up and tell your kids what is what, and lay down the risks. In my case, because my family believes in abstinence 'till marriage, we don't have to worry about "the risks." Isn't that the easiest way to deal with it? Rather than play with fire?

    Not to mention the sexual addiction that will be developing in these children assumed to be having sex before the age of 12. 12!!!

    I am just shocked, and sickened.

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  9. Sorry, to keep going...but...

    I know a lot of people say, they'll do it anyway; despite what they're parents tell them. Here's what I say: If they know the risks, it's their choice, and their consequences. Why encourage the approval of it, by giving them condoms?

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