Parents need to be involved in their children’s education, including their sex education. It’s only natural for people to feel hesitant when talking about sex. My own parents didn’t talk about it. So what happened? I got information from elsewhere; from a former teacher, in fact.
There are two questions you have to ask yourself as a parent. “Can I talk to my son/daughter about sex?” And, “can my son/daughter talk to me about sex?” If the answer to either of those questions is “no” or even “I’m not sure,” then ask yourself about where your teens are going to get that information.
They are going to be curious; they are going to have questions. Do you want them to get information from their peers and the media? Or from schools in an organized curriculum?
The major concern that comes from talking with teens about sex is that it will then make teens think it’s OK to have sex. However, if parents stay involved, parents still have power. Parents can be the ones to open the conversation with teens about sex, but still let them know that doesn’t mean it’s OK to become sexually active. If you keep involved as a parent, you keep control over the issue.
I was recently given a survey I found very interesting. It was conducted by the PTA concerning an abstinence-based curriculum. That is different from an abstinence-only curriculum in that teachers are allowed to answer questions as long as it follows specific guidelines. Teachers learn those guidelines through state-organized training every three years. The Davis School District uses an abstinence-based curriculum, not an abstinence-only curriculum. That means teachers can answer questions.
But is it working?
The survey asked parents if they knew the signs and symptoms of sexually transmitted infections and diseases. Only 43 percent said they were even familiar with the symptoms of STIs. It also asked if their children were old enough to be affected by the curriculum. Only half had children old enough to be affected.
Throughout the survey, it was clear that parents wanted to be involved and be the ones to talk with teens about sex. The parents were asked who they wanted to be responsible for talking to teens, and 99 percent said themselves. If parents make sure they stay involved and encourage their teens to talk by being open and positive, we may be able to get the number of teen pregnancies and STIs down.
However, if parents keep thinking they don’t really need to talk with their teens about sex or are still hesitant and embarrassed to, we need a curriculum that will teach teens the consequences of unprotected sex. That means talking about birth control and talking about diseases. It also means being able to answer questions and bring up discussions teachers can’t do right now.
As a parent, whether the curriculum changes or not, you have the opportunity to lead the discussion on sex. Take it. Be open with your teen and let them know it’s OK to talk to you. Then if the curriculum does change, you have nothing to worry about because you’ve already opened the door for your teen.