"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." “When I hear people say politics and religion don't mix, I wonder what Bible they are reading.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

"And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6.8

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4.19

"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2.12

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Time for Sex Ed

There doesn't seem to be a good age to start sex-ed. It either seems to early or too late. What happened to the window of opportunity which is the right time? Let's be frank: there's a lot more teenage sex happening than anyone wants to admit. I can be sanguine about that to a point but the fact that much is unprotected is a cause for alarm.

Don't get me wrong, we've an excellent programme and are well resourced but where I teach, there is a proportion of kids with little culture of responsible sexual behaviour. There is a minority of pupils - usually from the less educated and lower socio-economic groups - who are spreading chlamidia around amongst themselves. They know there is a school nurse anonymous drop-in programme but they shun it.

They'll only give us tablets.


Well you can't drink and take the tablets.

So, these precocious, in your face and far too sexually active to be age appropriate teenagers would rather drink and shag than get better.

Chlamydia. Thats a nice name for a little girl.........

Still, as my week-and-a-half-away-from-seventeen year old daughter commented:

Doesn't Chlamydia make you infertile? You should just leave them to get on with it and let the gene pool find its own level.

So perceptive and so compassionate all in one!

And yes we have the unplanned pregnancies too and an unknown number of secret abortions. In one of my classes I have a fifteen year old expectant father. He is very cocky (!) and full of himself and at the same time he is a frightened and vulnerable little boy who burst into tears when we were looking at Christian and Buddhist attitudes to abortion. This is the same boy who absolutely lost it when he and his girlfriend were separated in the post morning break chaos on the corridor and he was directed away from the crowd by some colleagues. "If my baby dies I'll never forgive you, you bastards." Then he broke his knuckles punching the wall in a temper tantrum. The upside is that a lot of the kids think he's an utter knob. "Who'd have sex with him? Not if he was the last man on the planet."

So tomorrow morning I will introduce the topic to a class of 13/14 year olds. Three quarters will listen intently, keen to learn and understand, grateful and relieved that there is an adult willing to have a calm, relaxed and informed conversation. ("I could never have this conversation with my Dad.")

The other quarter, though, will fall into giggles at the mention of the word "contraception" and will be on the verge of hysterics at the word "condom". Some will faux-faint at the sight of the prosthetic penis (Percy). These are the least well educated and from most socio-economically deprived section of pupils. They have limited horizons (I've never been to Leeds. I once went to Dewsbury with my mother on a Saturday and it were busy. I shouldn't like Leeds") and very young parents. I know that a cycle is about to be repeated with many of them. While the others listen, learn and take it all in, this group remain completely untouched and untouchable by any concept of sexual ethics, self respect, issues of STIs, contraception, sexually age-appropriate behaviour, teenage pregnancy or abstinence. "We've done this." they will proclaim with a worldly boredom. "I know this." Some will even argue. "No that's not right. You can't get pregnant the first time. I didn't." Last year I had one 13 yr old discussing loudly her experience of having the implant and the weight loss that followed. The looks on the other girls' faces were pictures of shock and disdain. The looks on the boys' faces, however, were quite different.

What's to be done?


  1. I do not envy you having to teach sex ed to teenagers at all, Sir. It is not my idea of fun.

  2. I love your cartoon. I hope you tell your teenage students that sex is one thing that they don't have to do, "Sir".

    Our children were terribly embarrassed when we talked to them about sex, but we plunged ahead.

  3. Let your daughter teach the class. She's really got a handle on it.

  4. My 16 year old daughter who must have gone through a number of sex-ed programmes since Primary School, tells me that one of the girls in her year is pregnant and genuinely doesn't have a clue what caused it.

    I have no idea what can be done about it because I genuinely do not understand it.

  5. What can be done is.. parents acting like parents and discussing sex when THEIR CHILD ASKS THEM something.

    Yeah, it's uncomfortable. TRUST ME - 4 kids, 1 teenager left and the discussion of "oral sex" or as she interjected, "You mean head?"..ugh, yes!

    Yes, let's talk about ..ahem, giving head and having head given.


    And yet, as my grandmother once pointed out not so eloquently when I asked her why she stayed with grandpa (through a bazillion years of marriage even tho I think she didn't like him all that much) stated, calmly, "He didn't do it right. I was with other boys. They did it right. I got pregnant with him."


    But, isn't this how it was? Is? Is there anything wrong with being together for the sake of a child? Not really. If two GOOD people, raise a child, together, selflessly, it's kind of a win - win.

    Now a child raising a child, trickier, but it's been done too.

    A disease that can-will-does lead to death. NOT ACCEPTABLE!

    EXPLAIN SEX: IE: giving head, jerking off, doing it, swallowing, EVERYTHING SEXUAL TO YOUR CHILDREN, they need to know.
    PLUS:They don't wanna hear IT from you anymore than you want to explain it to them.
    SUCK IT UP. Who's the parent?

    How much do you love your children?

    I love my 4 blessings more than my prudish comfort levels; perhaps a selfless-unconditional love, similar to what Jesus has for us, could be emulated upon our children :)

    Just saying...
    xo Peace!

  6. Wonder Woman,
    I envy you!
    I have no idea what happened to my kids and why. I was brought up in an extremely liberal household and I brought them up answering every question when it was asked, not forcing discussions they weren't ready for, talking in the most child appropriate manner but leaving nothing out that needed to be said. I am relaxed about nudity, I can talk about sex with anyone.

    And both my girls absolutely refuse to talk about sex with me. Once, when I made a comment about a program on television, the older one said in the most exasperated tone: "Oh, Mum, why can't you just be embarrassed about all of this like normal parents?!"
    Of course, I have forced the odd important conversation on them. But I have also seen how they close that barrier between their ears and their brain and I know very well that nothing went through and that I only succeeded in making them less likely to ask me a question in the future.

    I'm pleased that school has helped me with my efforts, and between us, we seem to have done alright.

  7. Part of the problem is that sex is rarely presented in all its infinite variety, as refreshingly detailed above. Every person will have their own experience of it, of what arouses, of what deflates .. (!) and method/feeling/approach/position/age/gender will be present in each person in an entirely unique mix.

    How about giving them all a copy of "The Joy of Sex" and "The Gay Man's Kama Sutra", or at least ensuring that they're in the school library ... in hardback of course!

  8. Saintly,
    My first thought was that just like with conversations, there can be too much information and the last thing I'd want is for them to be grossed out by things they're not yet ready to take on board.

    And then I thought that one of the real problems is that they have already seen all that the Joy of Sex can teach them - on YouPorn, RedPorn and any of the myriad of other porn video sites that require no credit card payment and no downloads.

    The real issue is not to tell them about sexual activity, but about the health implications, about only doing what you're comfortable with when you're comfortable with it, about the relational context of good sex, about not succumbing to peer pressure, about knowing that if you can't ask him to put on a condom you shouldn't have sex with him, about real life sex not being like it is on the Internet, about false expectations.

    The one time I really got my girls to listen was when I said I disliked those videos not because I am prudish about them but because if they really believed that this was what sex is about, they'd never be able to teach a boy to please them.

    Too little information isn't the problem, to little of the right information is.

  9. Just one more comment, "they'd never be able to teach a boy to please them".. They don't need a boy to please them, they can please themselves. isn't this a main key and ingredient to sexual health?

    Boys do it ;)Even without being told about "it".

    Girls do too ;)Once you mention "it", masturbation is for everyone!

    Yeah, yeah, yeah..and it's a sin. I think He is okay about it all :)

  10. Wonder Woman,
    Girls still feel like that about masturbation? I rather doubt that.
    And I'd rather my girls didn't end up staring at the ceiling thinking of England or inventing headaches because they're too shy to point out what would make sex successful for them. Why on earth should they have to sacrifice that out of embarrassment?

    Because it's not about knowing how their bodies function - they all know that these days, but about being confident enough to communicate it and to expect an equal sexual partnership.

    And that kind of confidence can be severely eroded if you believe that the women-abusing, male pleasure focused world of porn is the standard to aspire to.