Your Biggest* Enemy
Last weekend, I finally sorted through the boys' school papers, to determine what goes in the garbage, what needs to be saved for future reference, and what can be used as material for blog posts.
Among other stuff, I came across a folder titled "Operation Keepsake". This is an abstinence-based sex-ed program that was offered to LilProgrammer's 7th grade class this spring. Sadly, because LilProgrammer doesn’t really care about school, he discarded most of the handouts, and only a few have survived. This is especially upsetting because there is hardly any information on Operation Keepsake's website. Apparently, you cannot view the course props unless you are a paying customer. So I'll just have to write about it based on what I've got and what LilProgrammer told me.
According to LilProgrammer, the course mostly revolved around the evils of sex, such as babies and STDs (not necessarily in that order). The only method of contraception mentioned was the condom, and in the following context: "Don't use condoms, children, they're unreliable". At the end of the course, everyone was offered a pledge card to sign. I have the card with me. It states:
"My decisions determine my destiny,
I, (name) pledge to remain abstinent until marriage.
LilProgrammer did not sign his card. He says that the majority of his class have signed theirs. When I asked why would a 13yo give a promise that he or she, most likely, does not intend to keep, LilProgrammer responded indignantly, "What do you mean, Mom?! Of course they're going to keep the promise! We the 13-year-olds of 2006 are very, very serious about abstaining until we get married! Don't you know that sex is evil unless it is with that special someone that you're married to?!"
Ha, ha... gotcha. What he really said was, "Geez Mom. Who's gonna check on them?"
I have to admit to you, I just don't get abstinence-based sex ed. I was kinda hoping I'd get it after one of my kids have had it, but I still don't. First of all, why even call it sex ed? Telling kids about STDs, unwanted pregnancies, the evil of condoms, and nothing else does not, to me, constitute a sex ed course. Although it does very closely resemble the sex ed class we had. We were separated by gender, so I don't know what happened to the boys. What happened to the girls was, we were shown a series of slides and educational videos, mainly about STDs, with graphic pictures. In addition, we were told: "don't drink and have sex, it causes your children to have Down syndrome" (I wish I was making this up.) We were of course shown a movie about the evils of drunken sex. That was all the sex ed we got. We were 16-17 years old at the time. Two of our classmates had already dropped out of school because they were pregnant, and were at the moment happy mothers of two healthy little boys. Another classmate had left school to become a professional hooker. I dare say we deserved more sex ed than that, and probably at an earlier age. I am amazed that, in this day and age, there are still people who think it works - that you can just show the teens pictures of STDs and scare them into abstinence.
My second concern is, isn't abstinence until marriage a matter of personal faith? Don't get me wrong, if I were speaking in front of a Sunday School class, I would by all means urge my class to try their best to abstain until after the wedding. But to deliver the same message in a public school, where you have kids from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of belief systems? Sounds like proselytizing to me.
Finally, I have googled the average marriage age in America and here is the information that came up:
In the last decade the median age for marriage has increased by one year to 26.7 years for men and 25.1 for women.
In Utah, couples wed at the earliest age - 21.9 years for women and 23.9 for men. Washington, D.C. has the latest age for marriage with an average of around 30 years.
What I wonder is, who ever has the willpower to abstain till their late twenties? And how do you get a 13yo to seriously pledge abstinence for the next 13 to 17 years? What reasons would you give the 13yo to abstain for what seems like a lifetime to him? Just the fear of STDs won’t get him that far.
This is where the support system comes in. As part of the course LilProgrammer took, he was asked to lay out his "game strategy" - "How I will win the game of abstinence". He had to list his coaches, teammates, referees, cheerleaders, and of course, opposition. Here’s a list of people and things that LilProgrammer thinks will stand in his way of abstinence until marriage:
TV (bad anyway)
Crazy relatives (when asked, he said that those are the relatives that molest you.)
Crazy people in general (like friends) (I guess that's peer pressure... or something.)
And, last but not least...
I rest my case.