Educating young women about sex has been on the news lately. I am very opinionated about this topic. I grew up in a Catholic household. Sex was not discussed. It was purely something that was reserved for marriage. While I understand that religious beliefs play an impactful role in this topic, girls need to know the facts about sex at a young age. While their parents may have told them to “wait”, they may decide not to wait -- due to peer pressure, the desire to fit in, the need to be loved, the curiosity to experiment, the need to rebel and a variety of other reasons.
I am not advocating for young girls to experiment with sex or become promiscuous. I simply believe that knowledge is power. Lack of knowledge can affect their futures if they become pregnant or acquire some type of sexually transmitted disease that leads to cancer later in life.
I don’t have kids, so maybe I am out in left field. I cringe today when I think of the way I was educated about sex. It was purely by experimentation. And, by friends who were as uninformed as I was. Let’s arm our young girls with the proper information and hope they make better decisions with the facts.
I think the news item in discussion is the availability of birth control to middle school students. As reported in The New York Times, a school in Portland, Maine has garnered a lot of media attention because the birth control is issued through the school health facility and parental permission is not required.
Like every sane person, parent or not, I believe that middle school children should not have sex. They do not have the physical or emotional stuff. Their brains have barely developed beyond Tinker Toys. Sex is Pandora’s Box. Once you open it, there’s no going back.
We’ve witnessed a lot in the last 50 or so years. It used to be understood that good girls didn’t “do it.” The 60s and 70s brought the sexual revolution and the birth control pill. Roe v. Wade gave women permission to claim their own body. I don’t know a single woman who would actively choose to have an abortion but I know plenty who think this is a private choice.
Like Abby, I was raised with the goal of abstinence until marriage. Unlike Abby, I could (and did) ask my parents lots of questions about sex. They were pretty frank with their answers and allowed me to engage in open discussions.
When I began dating my husband, his daughter was a teenager. Teenagers ooze hormones. We were in a constant conversation about appropriate behavior.
When the son became a teenager, I became a maniac. I made him watch multiple Oprah shows about STDs and unwanted pregnancies. I would pause the tape and make him discuss it with me. All the eye rolling in the world wouldn’t deter me. I walked around behind him saying, “Wear a condom.”
Eventually, I chilled out a bit. My mantra became this:
Don’t do anything that would disrespect your body or hers.
Don’t do anything
with anyone that you would be embarrassed to bring into this house.
Maybe it’s the difference in generations but I never expected either of these children to abstain until marriage. I just wanted them to wait until their brain and their hormones were in sync enough to make wise decisions.
There’s something wrong when an 11-year old girl can’t talk to her parents and needs to go to the school health center for birth control. There’s something wrong when a middle school girl is having sex. The repercussions are mind-boggling.
It’s even scarier when that 11-year old becomes pregnant.
I'm not advocating for 11-year olds to have sex. But girls who are going to have sex are going to have sex.
Better protected and educated than sorry.