"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)
"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?