Let’s Keep Talking About Sex…
So now on to another important topic: the abstinence vs. birth control/sex education debate. Let’s face it, solely teaching abstinence is not the way to go. It’s not realistic in today’s society. Look how well that went for Sarah Palin’s family! We need to be realistic about what is going on in the lives of today’s teens and preteens. More and more school systems are shying away from providing sex ed in schools so it is more important than ever that we are having these discussions at home! Abstinence should be discussed within the realm of sex education, but it should not be the only thing that people preach.
I am the mental health therapist in an inner city school system and it is absolutely appalling to me that they do not provide sex education of any kind to the students. I am in an elementary/middle school that has pre-k to 8th grade and they get NOTHING at all in any grade! Teen pregnancy is crazy huge in this city and it is also the STD capital of the US and they have no sex ed, are you f’ing kidding me? I kid you not- NOTHING.
I run middle school girl’s groups and inevitably something about boys, sex, pregnancy, or STD’s comes up almost every session! This puts me in a difficult position because I am technically not supposed to talk about “those kinds of things” without specific parental permission to do so. I have to have consent to have kids in my groups, but “sex stuff” requires specific permission. Now, by this time after reading all of my rambling, I’m sure you can guess that I talk about it anyway because someone has to! Parents are not talking to their kids about it at home and these kids are so grossly misinformed, I feel it would be unethical not to properly educate them, so I am willing to take the risk. Sorry, that was my 10 second soap box rant!
How are they misinformed you ask? Well brace yourself, because here comes the really crazy stories. You thought T-Rex threw me for a loop, wait until you read some of this stuff! Last year I had 3 girls in my group ranging from 12-14- all of whom were sexually active by the way (yes, having sex at 12. I told you to brace yourself). During one session something came up about sex being painful and blood, etc. Well, one of the girls who had previously told me that she had had sex with her boyfriend, told me she was still a virgin. I looked at her with a very confused look and said, “I thought you had told me you had sex with your boyfriend.” She said, “I have, but I didn’t bleed so I am still a virgin.” This was yet another, ‘are you f’ing kidding me’ moment that I have had since working in the schools. These girls were always putting so much emphasis on being a virgin and now I knew why! Oh boy, how do I have this conversation?
All of these girls thought that losing your virginity meant that you had “your cherry popped.” This particular girl had not bled when she first had sex so she thought she was still a virgin. I literally had to have an anatomy lesson with them. They had no idea what a hymen was let alone that they all had one! They also didn’t know… wait for it… wait for it… that females have 3 separate holes! They thought they only had 2- they had no idea that we have a “pee hole” and a “baby hole.” I nearly died when I realized that these girls knew next to nothing about their own bodies, yet they were having sex (with more than one person by the way).
After talking to many other girls, I realized that parents just aren’t talking to their kids about their bodies and sex. Most of the girls said that their mothers avoid the topic because they think if they talk about sex it will encourage the kids to do it. Not so! It’s just the opposite actually. The more you talk to and educate your kids, the more kids tend to stop and think and make more educated decisions. This is with anything; not just sex.
These kids know next to nothing about birth control and STD’s either. They are making the decision to have sex without all of the information they need to protect themselves. These girls were begging me to keep discussing this stuff with them. Finally, I had to do something! I asked them if they would be interested in having a class on this topic and they practically deafened me when they all yelled, “YES!” I talked to my principal, who thankfully was totally on board, and I called Planned Parenthood. They came to my school and did a FREE (yes, some things are still actually free) educational seminar on birth control and STD’s for all the 7th and 8th grade students. The kids really got into it and asked some really good questions, but hearing some of the questions really made me glad I had brought Planned Parenthood it to give these kids a much needed education.
Planned Parenthood is an amazing resource for kids and adults. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your child about sex, then make them an appointment at Planned Parenthood- their sex educators will do it for you or they will help you to do it. Planned Parenthood is everywhere and offers so many services and is a safe place for kids to go if they don’t feel comfortable talking to their parents. They are the reason I did not end up pregnant as a teen! When I was 16 and decided I was ready to have sex with my boyfriend, I went to Planned Parenthood and put myself on the pill. My mother didn’t need to know and I was able to take care of myself. After I went, many of my friends did too. We had like a little pill taking club at school- every day before lunch we would all go into the bathroom and take our pills together. So, I personally, am thankful to Planned Parenthood for many reasons.
So the moral of the story is that if you are a parent, it is your job to educate your children. If you don’t do it, it is very likely that they will be getting their information from their friends, which is almost always inaccurate! One of the only ways we can decrease the teen pregnancy and STD rate is to educate, educate, educate and to be open and honest with our children right from a young age. Once T-Rex and B-Man get a little older I will start to talk with them about things pertaining to sex (or maybe I will pawn that one off on my husband), hell they already always have their hands on their penises, but that my friends, is another topic all together…