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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Teens Want More Than "Mechanics"

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Author Topic: Teens Want More Than "Mechanics"
Executive Director & Founder
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Sex education is set for a major shake-up in schools nationwide after a Federal Government-funded study revealed teenagers are crying out for better advice on sexual intimacy and relationships.

The groundbreaking study, funded by the Australian Research Council, shows that while an increasing number of youngsters are sexually active under the age of 16, they feel they receive little to no direction from parents or schools in the areas that matter most.

The research concludes that rather than the basic do's and don'ts of so called "sexual mechanics", what today's teenagers are desperate for is advice on the complexities surrounding sexual intimacy, negotiating consent, handling peer pressure and the potential for violence.

Youngsters who took part in the study also wanted further opportunity to learn communication skills in an area where many adults themselves fall short; dating and continuing relationships.

(Read more here.)

The findings of that study sync almost identically with the finding of a recent Alan Guttmacher study, as well. (And Moira Carmody, the researcher for the Austrailian study keeps coming up on my radar with some really awesome sexuality research: this is the second time in two months I've referenced work she's done.)

We knew this at Scarleteen, obviously: it's why we do things the way we do.

The chief researcher, Associate Professor Moira Carmody, from the University of Western Sydney's Social Justice Social Change Research Centre, confirmed the results would help shape an alternative sex education and violence prevention program, to be piloted in February.
...which I applaud. So, here's the question I post to all of you, especially those in or able to address the US in terms of the current sex ed policies:

Can you GIVE sex education that addresses all of those things within an abstinence-only framework?

I ask because while at first glance, it might seem like you could, I don't think that's actually possible. Unless you can acknowledge that it is OKAY that some teens are sexually active, you can't very well talk to them about how to manage all the aspects of that sexual activity, can you?

Can any of you come up with a way to use a Scarleteen-style approach in a school setting? Just want to stretch your creative minds a bit.

(Some of this, and another study like this, are cross-posted at the blog.)

[ 12-10-2006, 12:49 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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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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I don't think it can work. It **might** be possible to work dealing with peer pressure and negotiating consent into abstinence only sex-ed, but only after a fair amount of twisting it in that direction and again omitting some very important points. I think if this were actually put into practice it would only make it even more glaringly obvious that such a class mandates that important issues be shamelessly dodged.

It would do no harm trying to add such material but it would leave students feeling the same way they do now because the material would still be full of holes.

Therein lies one of the problems with this kind of sex-ed. You make one thing taboo and everything else falls apart. The fact that many adults still have problems in some of these areas is pretty telling in that regard.


You catch more flies with manure than you do with honey.

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If you mean as part of abstinence-only, I guess nothing will work beacuse teaching absitinence doesn't work. But I think with the right teacher, real sex education could work well. Things like teaching teens how to use condoms, where they can go for the pill, advice on gynae visits etc.
The problem is in catholic schools where all this is prohibited (and possibly even all schools in the US).
I consider myself a devoted Christian, but I really don't like the Church right now. Organised religion in general, to be honest. Because the clerics who make this legislation are directly responsible for high rates of STIs - because they block education against them.

In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I dont know what I am. I dont know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.

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One of my big beefs about sex education as it is taught in American public schools is that it's not really about sex. It's about not getting pregnant and not getting an STD, and sometimes encompasses not doing drugs or drinking alcohol as well. And so I suppose for it to <i>actually</i> be sex ed - to explain what sex is and why we have it other than as a vehicle for making babies, and different kinds of sex and sexualities - sex ed can't treat abstinence as the exclusive solution. I don't really see anything wrong with discussing it in addition to a variety of options concerning teenage sexuality - but in a class that actually teaches about sex and sexuality, it can't be the only solution.
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