Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are You Kidding Me??? Seriously???

WARNING:  THIS POST MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR SOME READERS

Added 6/17/10:  I am enjoying reading your comments about this, thanks to all who have written!  I think though that I need to clarify something that may not be understood.  I get it...I really and truly do...that kids are having sex at younger and younger ages.  I get the need to educate where parents don't do there job. I also agree that someone has to do the job, and if it is in school it will be essentially valueless due to the fairness of acknowledging that people have different value systems they operate under.

What we are talking about here though is NOT education, it is invasion of privacy.  And I am still not sure it is OK for a teacher or school to ask questions of a very personal nature of any child of any age, when the same question posed by anyone outside the system would lead to an investigation by authorities.  I guess I may be the only one disturbed by this seeming double standard, which is why I wondered what others' opinions were on the subject.

And for all that we know does go on in schools and at ever increasingly younger ages...there ARE still children at 10, 11 and 12 IN public schools who are not as sexually aware.

I guess too that part of my frustration with this is directed towards the irresponsible parents who abdicate responsibility for the education of their children about sex to the schools, and that effects every single child there, even those whose parents DO care and will do their jobs. 

I'll still say that if my kids were ever asked such questions, I would raise Holy-You-Know-What and be madder than a hornet.  Looking at Matthew, just turned 12, and I am ever so greatful that he and Angela and Kenny and Olesya are not ignorant of the existence of such activity, but are blissfully still deeply emerged in childhood, as they should be.   WIsh it were so for every other kid in the world.  It is easy to see how we as a society fail in a million ways to protect our kids...to support failing families...to support those in need of role models.

So what do we do about it?  Education alone will not change it, folks.  And that is not a comment against the sexual education of our kids.  Just a recognition that it takes a whole lot more.  It takes kids not yearning for love they don't get at home, it takes kids who know who they are and have confidence in themselves...not false confidence but a deeply rooted sense of self.  It takes families passing on values which are wholesome and healthy.  It takes having a safety net.

I guess, what I am saying is, that it takes a village.  But it also takes a strong family.  The village may have to find better ways to support those failing families so they can become stronger.

OK, 'nuff said.  I need to "chew" on this some more!

Below is the post:









We, as a culture, have gone too far.  I am totally convinced of it.

I just read online about the Massachussetts middle school that asked 7th and 8th graders graphic and  explicit questions about their sexual behavior, including questions about oral sex.  Pardon me for being so graphic myself with this post, but I simply don't get it.

Here is a link to the article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/16/arlene-tessitore-school-sex-survey_n_878318.html

I take issue with this for two reasons.  First of all, is the insanity of our societal expectations and perspectives about sex.  Please, will someone tell me why it is aceptable for a public school to ask our 10, 11 and 12 year old students questions of such a graphic sexual nature...but if a stranger came up to them on the street and asked the very same question that stranger would be labeled a pedophile and branded a sex offender for the remainder of their lives.  I can guarantee you that if some guy came up to my kid at our weekly street fair tonight and asked them if they engaged in oral sex...as this survey in school did...I would have him arrested immediately.

So why is it ok for teachers to ask these questions under the guise of "education"?  And why in the world doesn't anyone on the faculty see this as clearly offensive? 

My second issue with this is one most will probably not find as important, but I certainly think it is.  Here is where my Libertarian leanings might come out.  What right does any school official or teacher have to ask such questions even if only on the grounds of rights to privacy?  Since when did it become a school's job to monitor a child's sexual behavior?  Does a child of this age have the understanding of privacy issues and how revealing certain kinds of information may follow them later on in ways they might one day regret?  Even if they did, would they feel obligated to answer a survey or would they feel comfortable enough to stand up for their rights and opt out?

I am outraged, and I remember feeling violated myself when we were going through our adoption homestudies and found that a new questionairre was being required which asked intimate questions about our sexual activitiy.  At least I could understand why we were being asked such things, as there are predators who try to adopt so they can have a victim to abuse...but I still didn't like it.  However, we were given no choice, and I still contend that any adult who has half an ounce of sense would know how to answer such questions to evade suspicion. 

But a child??? 

Don't get me wrong, our family is probably even more open about sexuality than many ore, having had many discussions in our home about various topics.  The difference?  It is in our home, it is not valueless, and my kids will not have anything private about their sexual activity on file in some school office somewhere, or in some teacher's file...nor will their sexual activity be used to gather data about the habits and practices of children.  Our children are still far more innocent than many their ages, despite this knowledge, as it is all in how it is presented and then how much exposure they have to inappropriate content.

I am NOT against providing information, factual and clear.  I am NOT against our children understanding all they possibly can about their bodies.  I am NOT out to shield my children from the real world.  But I am sorry, asking my child if they have engaged in oral sex at 12 years old is basically telling them "We expect you have done so..." and that is NOT the message we want sent to our kids. 

Maybe I am just too "old school", maybe I am not Thoroughly Modern Millie.  It's just that I always am surprised...just as I think we can't possibly stoop any lower than "Jersey Shore", I find there is yet another level of disgust we can sink to.

Wondering how the rest of you all feel about this...am I a total nut case?  Is this sort of thing disturbing at all to anyone else or am I way off base?  Please share as I really would like to know!

11 comments:

r. said...

Can you post a link to the story, so we can make more informed comments about the specific situation referenced?

Thanks,
Rebecca

Cindy LaJoy said...

Good idea, Rebecca! Sorry, I was thinking everyone had seen it on the news by now. Just added it in the post.

Ali said...

I am a middle school teacher at an urban public school. Sex education is part of our Human Growth classes curriculum, and you would be shocked to hear some of the questions the teacher is asked during simple reproduction discussions. The truth is that many kids are growing up to fast, and doing things they should not be doing. I have had about ten teen mothers (yes mothers at age 12-14) over the last 5 years. I have witnessed condoms dropping out of 7th grade boys pockets a bunch of times. While I do call home to let the parent know they have a condom, I do not take it away from the student (I will not be blamed for a child getting pregnant/STDs) I can understand the school wanting to fill out an anonymous survey voluntarily, in order to better inform the students. But it should not be mandatory. Today, during a summer school art lesson on Chinese dragons, two incoming 7th graders brought up the guardisil vaccine and asked me questions. The schools have had to deal with these topics due to the fact that so many parents DO NOT address them at home. I applaud you for doing this. I wish these kids had the opportunity to be children for a while longer, but for most of them that isn't possible at this point. The schools are stuck between a rock and a hard place (between a lot of parents that aren't educating and children that are ignorantly involved in sexual activity).

Lindsay said...

I have real mixed feelings on this. Sadly our children are becoming sexualised at an earlier and earlier age. It is no longer the shock it once was when 12-14 year olds get pregnant. We've sadly, as a society, become used to children having babies. I have been asked some very shocking questions over the years by children about sexual matters; questions I guarantee they are not comfortable asking their parents but which, for their own health and safety, they need reliable answers to. Along with this is the fact that many teachers do not have the casting vote on what material/curriculum students are presented with. They are simply instructed to do it, whether they agree or disagree - so it is not always the teachers who are to blame for these decisions.

It would be nice to turn the clock back to a time where our children were not constantly bombarded by sexual messages and images but I think that is utopian. But, like you, if I found out my daughter was being asked questions like this at such a young age I would be furious!

Karon and John said...

I could not open the link, but I can speak on behalf of the way our district handels such surveys. We send a letter home with students and via e-maill two weeks prior to the survey and families have to sign off on their permission. Students are handed the survey by other students, I am not allowed to walk around the room answer any questions or ever touch the survey. They all put their no name survey in the envelope and a student takes it to the conselors office. As teacher we do get mass data on all of the 1000+ students at our school so that we can be informed about what is going on socialy with them. The number of sexulay active kids and the number of kids using illigal substances is staggering and frightning. The only way we get funding and support to provide education on these issues is by proving that they exist. Cindy, you and Domionic are the parents every child should have. You are open, honest, willing to look up the hard questions, you find the experts, you create a trusting enviornment and you are not nieve about the reality of the world. Saddly you are a minority. The types of social issues brought into schools, churches, playgrounds, city pools and life are becomeing so intnence. TV (in my opinion) sells the junk food, sexual casualness, dissrespect for adults and authority. Now parents, teachers, spiritual leaders or peers step up to counter this trend.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, sexuality is being introduced more blatantly at an ever decreasing age. I too have worked with children too early exposed to sex through their own parents behavior, by television, in the clothing department, etc. My first Partner (Big Sisters)assignment was to see that my new partner made it to 14 without getting pregnant. Her sister had gotten pregnant at 13. Due to the efforts of a lot of people and to my partner herself, she is now in her mid 20s, a shift manager at a fast food restaurant, and has no children.

My second partner is 19 and a mother working at Salvation Army Thrift Store.

My third plus her sister are of deep concern to me. I think that early motherhood will couple with complete lack of preparation to support or care for a child.

I believe that parents ought to be like your family, Cindy, openly discussing values, sexuality in the contexts of both society and family, and leaving open the door for all questions. Yours is a rare family.

I also believe schools must take on the teaching of relationships from kindergarten on, addressing as the years go on how we relate to others. This encompasses bullying, mediating, peacemaking, relationships between girls and boys, and with each other.

At some point, either as a part of a larger curriculum or separately a more comprehensive look at sexuality is necessary. In our school district, this takes place in 9th grade--too late for some. It is done only with parents written permission and includes a panel of faith and health based experts discussing health and value issues.

When I was a child my mother was too embarrased to answer questions. She gave us a book on the birds and bees--literally. My father was not there to answer questions. My school showed a film done by Kotex on sexual maturing. Boys watched in one room, girls in another. Even decades ago some recognition was given by the public schools that not all children are taught at home.

That said, the questionarre was inappropriate and absolutely should have been given only with parent's written permission, but we do need information of the level of sexual activity and knowledge at each level. How do we get it without seeming to sanction or teach?

Lael

r. said...

I still haven't checked out the link, but I can offer this much . . .

When I was 12, I knew what oral sex was and I knew people who had engaged in it.

At my high school, you were required to take a semester of "Health" before you graduated, but there was no requirement that the Health teachers taught about safe sex--it was left to their discretion. My health teacher was of the sort who was boycotting Disney at the time because they held a "gay family day" at one of their amusement parks--she felt that her job was to teach the bare mechanics of the reproductive system, with no attention whatsoever to teaching about safer sex. My high school did, however, offer a parenting class.

And I guess that's the kicker. I can't say for sure what's the right age to begin teaching these things, but one thing that is pretty well documented is that the Bible Belt tends to have the some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy. Because not talking about something doesn't make it cease to exist.

No, it probably wouldn't be appropriate to ask your children about oral sex and things like that. But if they were still in public school, I can guarantee your middle schoolers (at least if fluent in English already) would know about them--and the folks doing the teaching would be their peers.

Kath said...

I'm quite a bit older than your kids, I'm 19. And I'd still be absolutely furious if somebody asked me that on a questionnaire at university, never mind if they'd asked me at school. Especially the way that it sounds like it was detailed rather than just general, and that it sounds like it wasn't an optional survey, they shouldn't be able to effectively force children to answer it if they don't want to, I'm sure the teachers would be allowed to opt out of a similar survey!

Heather said...

Amend and amen. I would be livid if someone breeches that subject with my child!

Anonymous said...

This is so wrong. I would be angry too. Teaching and learning about sexuality is an on going, age appropriate discussion that should take place in the safety of the home. If that isn't possible, then the answer is not to asault the innocent, but to go to the heart of the problem, the family. We are quickly becoming a society where the family must defer to the govenment. In doing so, we lose all individual freedom. But I guess that is what happens, if we can't govern ourselves, we will be governed.

Marnie and Jeremy said...

I agree that education is a must but privacy is a necessity. Parents who are not willing to do it can not bury their heads in the sand. I was always open and honest with my boys at a very young age. Recently I walked past my 17 year old sons closed door and heard 2 very alarming words "pregnancy test". I explained to him that I was not snooping but certain words just scream out to a mother. He told me that it was just something he was reading on the internet and if anything like that ever happened he would come to me. My response to him was not judgement or questioning. I just told him that if it ever happened, I would be disappointed but it would not be the end of the world. My sister inlaw who completely sheltered her children reacted so poorly to finding out her 15 year old daughter was sexually active. The child was scared and embarrassed to the point that she tried to kill herself. My sister inlaw had her hospitalized. Neither one has learned from this and unfortunately, I can predict that the future of their relationship will be forever impacted by this. Education and approach would have made this a totally different situation.

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