The New York City public schools announced the other day that all students would now be required to have “sex education” classes, including teaching grade school children about sex and how to use contraceptives and condoms. At the heart of the proposal is the unwarranted assumption that teenagers will inevitably be sexually active — and that this cannot be prevented.
There is no question that some teens are already making unwise choices, and are involved in sexual activity. Likewise, some are drinking alcohol, smoking, using pornography and taking illegal drugs. In these cases, society does not hesitate to tell them in a unified voice, “There is a better way. You should not engage in these activities.” We would think it absurd to distribute free beer or drugs or porn in schools, or to instruct children to smoke only filtered cigarettes. Yet the schools would be willingly offering a false sense of security by advising them to use condoms or other contraceptive devices or drugs. In doing so, our schools would be implicitly encouraging, facilitating and approving dangerous sexual activity.
This proposal sends a message to our teens — “Your political and educational leaders have no faith in you. They have given up, and assume you will make poor decisions.”
At a time of adolescent uncertainty and sexual maturation, our society and our educational system should instead be offering young people clear guidance and strong direction. Rather than accepting teen sexual activity, the schools should instead be courageous enough to speak frankly and unambiguously about the inappropriateness of sexual activity outside of marriage, and the advantages and beauty of chastity.
This mandate is also disrespectful to parents. It assumes that parents lack the ability or motivation to fulfill their roles as the primary educators of their children. Does anyone seriously believe that that our educational system knows better what to say to kids about sex, when it should be said, and how to answer their delicate questions? Are the privacy and innocence of children to be so easily sacrificed? Are the values and morals of parents to be treated as irrelevant? It is hard to believe that we have reached a point where the government feels free to invade the sanctity of the family, especially on such an intimate and important subject.
There is a better way, and it has proven to be successful.
Studies continue to show that when teens are taught about the benefits of chaste behavior, and are offered support and resources that affirm their decision to abstain, they can make good decisions.
Across our nation, education programs in public schools that stress sexual abstinence outside of marriage have a proven track record of helping teens make good, healthy, moral decisions. They encourage open communication between teens and parents, and offer peer encouragement and other resources that reinforce good decision-making. They foster a sense of self-awareness and confidence in young people, so that they can aspire to a better life. And they communicate that adults have confidence in their good judgment and intelligence.
The City’s proposal is one of despair, and it invites teens to surrender to the inevitability of failure. But we believe that our young people are better than that, they certainly deserve better than this proposal, and with the right kind of help, they can succeed. We are not defeatists.
Instead of embracing failure, our society should be giving teens a message of hope, faith, self-worth and self-respect. We believe that with proper guidance, with parental involvement, and with programs built upon authentic self-esteem, our youth will respond and will develop healthy sexual attitudes, and live chaste lives.