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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » sex ed

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Author Topic: sex ed
likewhoa19
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So considering I grew up in a conservative, religious part of the US, I actually had a pretty good sex ed in jr high. Now, however, with the new laws, my little sister (just turned 14) has not and will not have any formal sex ed. My parents did the whole basic ''birds and bees'' talk when we were very young and just call everything down-there ''vagina.'' But it makes me so sad my sister doesn't know what all her girl-parts are (and might not learn 'til college, given where we live). I tried to whip out a diagram for her though, and I think she acted disinterested because she was embarassed. I got a lot of sex education through google.com growing up, but I think that's so sad; I'd like for my sister to feel comfortable talking openly to me about things w/o feeling like she has to either act conservative or act sophisticated/cool. Does anyone have ideas for how to educate/make comfortable a younger sibling when talking about things like sex? (Or how to educate intelligently someone who doesn't know much yet?)

[ 04-13-2006, 06:49 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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origami_jane
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I've got siblings around that age, plus I was 14 not too long ago, so here's what I've got:

Why don't you buy her a book or something, leave it in her room so she can look at it in private, and leave a note asking her to come talk with you if she'd like anything explained?

Or, casually bring it up when it's just the two of you. Use a third party so that she doesn't feel like you're attacking her. Ask her what the kids at school talk about doing sexually... if they talk about safe ways to do those things, etc.

Or, even better, bring up something in a TV show or movie. (The WB is infamous for having teen dramas that are usually extremely popular with the Jr. High set, and usually have a special sex episode and/or characters in relationships.)

I guess what I'm trying to suggest is to keep it as unthreatening as possible for her. Kids that age never expect to be talked to about sex because dialogue about sex is such a taboo. Which is a real shame.

Anyway, major props for looking out for your sister. I wish more people were like that.

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kitka
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Ditto on Jane's comments - major props. If only more kids your age - not to mention their parents - were aware of the distortions created by federally-funded abstinence programs, there would be a lot fewer scared and worried teens.

Are your parents as aware as you are that your sister isn't going to receive any worthwhile sex ed in the classroom? If you feel like you can broach the subject with them, why not point them to some facts -

Over 80% of the federal government's Community Based Abstinence Education programs have misleading or false data about reproductive health, such as:

-condom failure rates are 31%

- 5-10% of women who have abortions will become sterile

- premature birth, which causes mental retardation, is increased after abortion
(my personal favorite. I was born 3 months early and my mom's never aborted!)

- cites HPV as the primary cause of cervical cancer, but says nothing about getting Pap smears to identify early risk

- implies that 50% of homosexual male teens have HIV

The House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform did a report in Dec. 2004, showing how most abstinence programs manipulate data from the Center for Disease control, in order to further the abstinence agenda.
It's online at

www.democrats.reform.house.gov

Some people see red when they hear "Democrats" (pun intended), but it's important to remember that the people at the CDC know what they're talking about, at least when it comes to sex.

If your parents know that this sort of stuff is being foisted on kids, and they care, maybe they'll talk to other parents... and maybe all of this swill can be scrapped eventually.

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likewhoa19
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That's very interesting. Unfortunately, my parents being fairly more liberal and open-minded, don't have much connection with other parents in the area when it comes to discussing social issues. The mainstream religion where I grew up insists premarital sex is a sin (of course you see elevated rates of teenage pregnancy and spousal abuse -yay).

And there are other issues too -I feel that both my parents hold some old-fashioned ideas I don't particularly care for, and my parents are so into the authoritarian model of parenthood it makes them tough to debate. Like they both think sex is more physical for men and more emotional for women. And for some reason my mother thinks condoms aren't very effective. All I really know about her sex life is that she only had a couple of relationships before my dad with only men she thought ''really loved her,'' and she never used condoms only diaphragms, which to me perpetuates this idea that women should be responsible for birth control plus doesn't protect against STIs. I've argued all these approaches vehemently with my parents since I was like 13, so unfortunately I don't feel really comfortable trusting their opinions on sexual matters and vice versa. (Although I guess all this second paragraph is pretty much a different issue, it was meant to address your suggestion about talking to parents.)

I think all your suggestions are very good though, overall. Thanks.

[ 04-13-2006, 10:37 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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likewhoa19
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oh, and another question. I have one book, The Guide to Getting it On, that I have thought about giving to my sister a few times. Although I have some complaints with the book (namely the author wants things to be equal but isn't always realistic, I feel) I think it is a very good resource for bringing up so many different issues. However, I happen to get the gist my parents believe it's a problem for kids under the age of say, 17, to know much about different kinds of sex acts, so I'm a little worried about my sister and/or myself getting in trouble if they found out I gave her the book which includes some how-to sections. Does anyone have suggestions for a book that would seem to be good/appropriate to give to my sister?

[ 04-13-2006, 09:57 PM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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Beppie
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Are you able to just leave the book (and perhaps a few articles printed off from Scarleteen?) where your sister will find it? You said she seemed a little embarrassed to talk face to face right now, but if she stubmled across these things on her own, I'd be willing to be that she'll read and learn. [Wink]
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likewhoa19
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Yes, I can give a book to my sister no prob. It's just that my parents have a way of finding things we have -so I'd prefer a book that they'd deem appropriate, just in case. I think they'd be fine with lots of information, as long as it wasn't very explicit on types of sex acts, and especially not in a how-to format. (Personally, I think any attitude that essentially stems from the assumption girls are ''innocent'' non-sexual beings who either can be corrupted or would be expected to be very embarassed to learn about sex is silly, and have thought that for many years now. However, my parents are the authority in our household, my sister is not quite as independent-minded as I was at her age, and certainly if the parents called some book I gave my sister ''inappropriate'' and confiscated it that would NOT be a good message for them plus me to be sending her.)

[ 04-14-2006, 09:04 AM: Message edited by: likewhoa19 ]

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Heather
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"Deal With It," is another book I'd suggest (more than that other, actually) for your 14-year-old sister.

One, it's a bit more entry level, two, it also covers things like body image, issues specific to girls, etc. And it certainly has a more benign tone and approach than the other.

(I actually realy dislike that book, so my opinion may be biased, here. All the same, Deal With It rocks. So does Our Bodies, Ourselves. There's also a version specifically for teen women.)

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likewhoa19
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Cool, thank you. I will definitely check into those books. Actually, I'd be curious to know why you dislike that other book. I just remember another complaint I had with it, where one time only the author actually suggests that a bj is an appropriate reward for a man who has done a great share of the housework in a hetero couple -I sent the author an angry e-mail about that one -like lets reverse the roles and see how that sounds, ya know? But you probably have more informed critiques than me, so I'd be curious to know what they are...
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Heather
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That statement sums up my dislikes pretty well: the whole thing comes from a pretty heterosexist and occasionally sexist perspective, in my eyes overall. And in general, I don't find that a sex book from a male perspective is very helpful to women and young women.

Plus, the whole tone of the book reads more like a Cosmo article in many ways than like something accurate and informative. Less benign than the above stuff, for sure, but I personally can't stand reading sex books that seem to try and work to be whoo-whoo to get the reader excited about sex, as if sex needed help getting anyone psyched about it.

I've had a longstanding habit of not really doing negative reviews of other's work publicly unless it's something I feel actually endangers someone, so that's about all I'll say about that.

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Heather
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Also, I should add that in the "about us" and "for parents" section of this site from the main page left navbar, there are a list of others sites besides this one you might take a look at.

Sex, Etc. is one I think is fantastic and might be excellently suited to your household.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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PenguinBoy
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I wouldn't even consider mentioning sex to my brother... scary :S. Good on ya for looking out for her. I think the third party was a good idea too, if you know any of her close friends well who u trust, you could ask them about what is taught at school and what is talked about between friends, and you could probably get a pretty good idea of what ur sis knows. She could be more clued up than you think, and just rather shy about it.

When i was 15 we had 2 lessons from sixthform students. That was our sex ed it was really cool, because we were talking to sexually active people who were a simmilar age to us and could talk to us on a similar level and who were totally clued up on sex and STIs, and protection. They were great to aspire to. I recall that i didn't actually learn anything i didn't already know through talking to my best friend and other friends. But either way i think it was a great way to do it. NO force-fed sexual denial, and no crap statistics, just good advice in a fun and honest way from people we looked up to.

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likewhoa19
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I mentioned she's not learning anything about sex at school (except from other kids, of course.) She's talked to me before. I have some idea of what she knows. But what she knows is much more an extremely-limited version of the cosmo version of things than a lot of really useful health and body information. How old are you PenguinBoy? -I think it's unfortunate anyone posting much on this site (who is obviously so open to learning correct information about sex) would be afraid to talk to a sibling. Increasing open communication is one of the absolute most important things, I think.
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PenguinBoy
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I'm 17, and my brother is 15, it's just a bit wierd really. My mum's a mid-wife so she's been shoving sex info down our throats for ages, making sure we had the right info and all that, so i know he's not clueless. It's just the idea of opening up to someone in the family world about your personal world. Maybe i should ask him about stuff :S.

We're better off than my dad, the homophobic, sexist, antis-semetic racist. he seriously changes the channel on tv when people start kissing, and shouts abuse at people who are camp on tv. He didn't know what a period was until he was married. The house is definately not a sexually open environment. Dad wouldn't let me have 2 girls in my room while we worked on planning a peer-led drug eduction lesson for a younger year(ironic). Maybe i'll ask brother about stuff. If i can put my embarasment aside.

Have you talked to your parents about your sister? Maybe you should show them a book before you give it to her. So as to completely eradicate the risk of them confiscating it. you could sit her down and give her the good ol' cliché "talk".

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likewhoa19
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Thanks again for the book suggestions, Miz S. I wound up getting my sister the teen version of ''Our Bodies, Ourselves'' which was called ''Changing Bodies, Changing Lives'' and mailing it to her. I liked that book because I thought it would be interesting to read about boys as well as gurls. My mom asked my sister what I'd sent her, and when our mom looked at the book her response was ''this is geared more towards 16-yr-olds''. But my 14 yr-old sister is keeping the book. Hopefully she will learn stuff and appreciate it some as well.
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