Chariho School Parents’ Forum

May 18, 2007

Reshaping society – public school style

Filed under: Sex-Ed,State-wide — Editor @ 7:51 pm

Not long ago there was an unsigned editorial in the ProJo discussing a recent study on abstinence education produced by Mathmatica.  This article was not unlike many others written around the country.  Almost all main stream publications jumped on the bandwagon and said that abstinence programs were not effective at reducing sexual activity of teens.  Only Christian publications bothered to look at the details of the study.

You can find the complete study here.

I would suggest that you look at the study carefully.  What you will find is disturbing, most notably in the sampling.  What they did was looked at children who participated in abstinence education from the ages between 9 – 11.  Then, 4-6 years later, they surveyed the participants to see if their sexual activity was any different from students who did not participate in any abstinence programs.

Here are the main problems with this study.  First of all, they only looked at 4 of the approx 900 different programs (one of which was only an after-school activity).   But the most glaring problem was the fact that they only gave the children the abstinence information when they were ages 9 – 11.  Not exactly the ages when hormones are raging.  From the ages 12 – 16 they were given the standard “comprehensive sex-ed.”

Wouldn’t it be just as conclusive to say that if you give students “comprehensive sex-ed” for 4-6 years that you can convince children to become sexually active?  Maybe this study is more an indictment of comprehensive sex-ed than it is an indictment of abstinence programs. 

I do know what it has shown us is the bias and agenda present in many journalists.

If you think I am overreacting, let me remind you of the 2000, 2001, 2004 “Teach-Out” conferences held in Massachusetts.  This conference was nicknamed “Fistgate” for reasons you are about to learn.

“Fistgate” was the public school funded conferences where children as young as 12 were told such things as:

“Go out and get a bunch of condoms and plan a day of experimenting.”

“As with vegetables, children shouldn’t knock homosexuality until they try it.”

One instructor even went so far as to graphically describe “fisting” techniques, thus the moniker given to the conference.  If you have not heard about this conference, don’t be surprised.  It didn’t get much press – not nearly as much as is used to bash abstinence programs.

Do you think I’m kidding or overreacting?  Judge for yourself.  A parent recorded one of the meetings and audio clips can be found here.  (warning, many of these recording have graphic language)

It is truly shocking and something we need to vigilantly look out for here in RI.  Remember, RI was the first state where the ACLU was successful in banning abstinence programs in public schools.  Commissioner McWalters eventually reversed his decision but the ACLU is still trying.

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13 Comments »

  1. I don’t know if it was this past year, or the year before that, but the number one agenda item for the National Teacher’s Association was voting to support gay marriage. Now how one feels about gay marriage is a matter of personal values, but to have it as the top item on the agenda is quite a statement…not improving test scores, not improving teacher quality…but taking a position on sexual orientation is the top priority for teachers!

    Yes, we do have to watch these people like a hawk. As I recently noted, an employee of Psychological Centers, Inc., one of only three employees I could find in my research, is heavily involved in the gay marriage debate. I found nothing from her about children, just a major concern that the gay lifestyle receive government sanction. I can only wonder how that will help our children?

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 18, 2007 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

  2. This concerns me greatly.

    I want to know exactly what the sex-ed curriculum entails. Where does SIECUS fit in? Where can we access lesson plans for grades 5-12 regarding any sex-ed issues? What flexibility do the teachers have while teaching sex-ed?

    This is an issue that parents should have complete access to.

    My concern as a parent is that I do not want my life lessons at home being undermined by the district.

    I would ask the district to publish their sex-ed curriculum for all to see.

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 19, 2007 @ 11:29 pm | Reply

  3. Alright, I normally just casually read this and smile at the ‘insight’ into us student’s minds, but this made me have to speak out. Abstinence only is a flawed option and a waste of student time. The issue with abstinence is it is unrealistic. The health class I had that focused on abstinence consisted primarily of just that, abstinence, with barely a week devoted to safe sex. The fact is, how much you’d like to deny it, that your teenagers are or probably will have sex, and you’re just damaging them by not providing substantial enough information in the classroom about the subject, however promising a platonic friend might be(platonic is a word the teacher would consistently repeat). If a teen chooses to remain abstience, that’s perfectly fine, but the keyword is choose. This notion that by teaching safe sex, it’s encouraging sex is just preposterous. Teaching someone how to put on a condom or how to talk to their doctor about birth control isn’t opening a gate way to the wild world of rock and roll and sex, it’s providing the tools to make a smart decision if the teenager decides to eventually have sex, at any age. It’s not like at a certain age the knowledge of having safe sex is just presented on a silver platter, the real question is do you want your children learning from an educational environment or their best friend who will tell them how great it is. By just saying that friends and hugs is the way to go, when those ‘raging hormones’ do start raging, the abstinence program taught teen is probably just going to make a more regrettable choice being unaware of the serious safe sex options. You’re sadly mistaken if you think sex isn’t occurring or isn’t being discussed on a daily basis, and speaking from inside experience and an unbiased position, if anything, the kids coming into the high school are more promiscuous and active then the next, if it be myspace, hiphop, or -questionable parenting-. While it was nice of you to provide the example of abstinence not failing, it was from a Christian news source. While I won’t divulge in to a religion topic, I’ll just leave it at the fact that a Christian news agency probably knows where it’s viewers stand on abstinence. As for the example provided where 12 year olds were told to buy all the condoms or something to that effect, that’s clearly a dramatic and isolated example. I apologize if I’m coming across as cynical, but frustration amongst students is constantly growing by these policies being implemented supposedly to better us, but we realize they’re failing. No child WILL be left behind because we’re all going to be standing behind this cloud of bureaucratic standard pushing that just leads to cookie cutter children with little if any judgmental ability.

    Comment by Anonymous Student — May 21, 2007 @ 5:10 pm | Reply

  4. Anonymous Student,
    Thank you for posting. Although I’m afraid I can’t agree with you and you missed an important point.

    First of all, the “Fistgate” incident is not unique. Just last week a similar incident was reported in the Denver Post. (http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_5904322) Here is a quote:

    “I’m going to encourage you to have sex, and I’m going to encourage you to use drugs appropriately,” panelist Joel Becker, a Los Angeles clinical psychologist, told the students. “And why I am going to take that position is because you’re going to do it anyway.”

    Furthermore, there are many young people who have made the choice to remain abstinent and it’s a growing trend (probably a backlash from the problems associated with promiscuous behavior). Let’s face it, when we started teaching “safe sex” and saying “your going to do it anyway” is when teen sexual activity became the norm.

    Regarding the Christian publication – simply put, the mainstream media rarely reports on items favorable to conservative thought. Just look at how the Mathmatica report was covered and it has serious sampling flaws. But there are many other publications and advocacy groups who have reported on the study’s flaws, but as I said, rarely are they mainstream.

    But I do want you to understand this isn’t necessarily just a moral issue, there are consequences to this behavior. Do some research into papilloma virus (genital warts). There are over 100 strains now and one of my classmates in the masters program gave a report that 75% of sexually active girls carried one of the strains (which can cause cervical cancer and sterilization). And condoms do not prevent the transmission.

    That being said, I am not saying Chariho has a problem with their program. By the comments on your post I would guess that they do not. This post was on the national issue and how the guidelines for sex-ed are carried out.

    SIECUS (Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States) provides the guidelines for sex-ed. Those guidelines suggest that 5 year olds should be taught about masturbation and same sex orientation. 5 year-olds! Ask any parent what they think about that. 5 years old is entirely too young to approach those subject. They do not have the capacity to understand.

    But the most important point that you missed, and conspicuously absent from your post, is parental involvement. Teaching about sex is the parents’ responsibility. When you say that the school should do this or that, you completely miss the point. The reason we have many of the problems that we do is because parents rely on the school to do the parents’ job.

    Survey after survey confirms that 85-95% of parents wish their kids remained abstinent at least until after High School but if they don’t teach those values and rely on the school then they are not helping their kids. My job is to make sure the parents know that SIECUS does not teach the same values as they do (or wish to be done). SIECUS is undermining the parent. Not to sound cliché but when you’re a parent you will understand.

    But I do appreciate you chiming in. Please have a similar conversation with your parents, if you have not already done so.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — May 21, 2007 @ 6:53 pm | Reply

  5. It’s great to hear from a teen. You know first hand the pressures a teen faces to be or not to be promiscuous. Peer pressure sucks.

    You are right in a lot of what you said. And thank you for speaking out. More teens should.

    But from a parents perspective, we are responsible to see that our children are kept safe. If we don’t, who will?

    Yes, we are all responsible for the choices, good or bad, that we make.

    As parents, we still have to make choices, too, good or bad. We are partly responsible when our children make good and bad choices. I say “partly” because some ownership has to go to you kids. The word you mentioned was “choice.” You have the “choice” to make good or bad decisions and suffer or benefit from the “consequences.”

    I am not saying that the current curriculum may be wrong. I am saying that we, as parents, have a right to review this curriculum or any curricula, to individually decide whether it is appropriate for our kids because until they are 18, they are still our responsibility, ours to nurture.

    The current state of affairs says to me that:

    1. we have failed our kids if they can go to their friends for advice and not their parents,

    2. many parents are afraid or have been forced to work 40 plus hours a week, leaving important discussions like sex up to the school and peers,

    3. our kids still do not have enough self-esteem or respect for themselves or others to say “NO” when pressured….

    I could go on.

    I will leave you with this thought.

    Knowledge does not always bring great wisdom.

    Comment by Lois Buck — May 21, 2007 @ 9:01 pm | Reply

  6. As I read the comments from the student, I kept waiting to hear parents mentioned. Sadly, it was not to be. Is this student an example of how effective schools have become in convincing students that government has the answers, not parents? I then read Mr. Felkner’s response and see it noticed the parental absence as well. I think it is very telling and sad when a child turns to the government for life guidance.

    Any parent who wants to voluntarily abdicate their responsibilities to a school system should go ahead and do it. I’ll raise my children, impart values, and give them my perspective on sexual issues. I want the school to leave MY children alone.

    I believe sex eduation and any values oriented issues taught in school should only be allowed for those families who opt IN to allowing teachers and psychologists to take over or supplement their parental responsibilities. Unless a parent specifically gives permission, the government should not be teaching values to our children.

    Sorry kiddo, but I have experience parenting teenagers and I have experience being a teenager. While you may have urges beyond your control, you do not speak for every child. You certainly don’t speak for my children or for the teenager I used to be.

    By the way, are you sure you read here? You mention smiling at our “insight” into students’ minds. Strange, but I don’t recall many discussions on here about what goes on in a child’s mind? Most of the issues addressed here involve the minds of adults who are running our schools. You may want to read a little more carefully in the future? Or maybe you’re confusing us with all those school social workers and psychologists we pay and arm and a leg for?

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 21, 2007 @ 11:18 pm | Reply

  7. 1. we have failed our kids if they can go to their friends for advice and not their parents,

    Couldn’t agree more.

    2. many parents are afraid or have been forced to work 40 plus hours a week, leaving important discussions like sex up to the school and peers,

    The only thing I would add is the growth of single parent family and lack of time resulting. Thus school fills the gap.

    3. our kids still do not have enough self-esteem or respect for themselves or others to say “NO” when pressured….

    One aspect of many abstinence programs are discussing strategies to deal with peer pressure, etc… but the self-esteem issue is difficult for me to know. What I don’t understand is if or how the stigma of being one of “those girls” has disappeared. There was a double standard in the past but it doesn’t seem to be present any longer. But I could be wrong, I don’t know. I’m old.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — May 21, 2007 @ 11:26 pm | Reply

  8. “I want the school to leave MY children alone. I believe sex education and any values oriented issues taught in school should only be allowed for those families who opt IN to allowing teachers and psychologists to take over or supplement their parental responsibilities. ”
    Unfortunately, this is not the case everywhere. Although, I don’t know all about Chariho’s policies, I think we are pretty good. But it is not uncommon for me to read stories that a school would require involvement. And “op-in” requirements are very rare.
    There have even been a case where courts ruled that it is the school’s “responsibility” to teach about sex (Buenos Aires). http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=7778

    Comment by Bill Felkner — May 21, 2007 @ 11:34 pm | Reply

  9. I know you are right Mr. Felkner. I want the schools to leave my children alone except for fundamental education, but I realize that at this point, schools insist on taking over traditional parental responsibilities.

    Sadly, to combat this takeover, my children are learning that some teachers are nutty fruitcakes. I do my best to monitor all the values oriented lectures that occur at school, and when my children are faced with the contrast between logic and emotionalism, they often lose much respect for their teachers.

    If teachers were allows/required to simply educate our children without introducing political and morality themes, then my children would be none the wiser regarding many teachers’ deficiencies in commonsense. Frankly, my children are doing fine because I am very active in their lives, but I do feel bad for the children without parents with the time or inclination to do their jobs as parents.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 22, 2007 @ 12:16 pm | Reply

  10. “As I read the comments from the student, I kept waiting to hear parents mentioned. Sadly, it was not to be. Is this student an example of how effective schools have become in convincing students that government has the answers, not parents?”

    I’m looking far from the government for ANY answers, I think I concluded with my distaste with No Child Left Behind, and similar policies. I never mentioned parenting, because I assumed being a parent involvement blog, the value of parenting was already known. By no means was I suggesting that parents be left out of this in any way.

    “I then read Mr. Felkner’s response and see it noticed the parental absence as well. I think it is very telling and sad when a child turns to the government for life guidance.”

    Again, while this is a creative notion, it’s untrue. I turn to parents, teachers, and friends, and use my judgmental abilities to make decisions. Not the government, just to clarify.

    “Any parent who wants to voluntarily abdicate their responsibilities to a school system should go ahead and do it. I’ll raise my children, impart values, and give them my perspective on sexual issues. I want the school to leave MY children alone.”

    If you’re insinuating my parents turned me over to the school system without giving me values, I don’t appreciate that. I know their stance, they understand mine.

    “I believe sex eduation and any values oriented issues taught in school should only be allowed for those families who opt IN to allowing teachers and psychologists to take over or supplement their parental responsibilities. Unless a parent specifically gives permission, the government should not be teaching values to our children.”

    I wasn’t suggesting that values be taught in the classroom, I was just suggesting options. However, reading Mr. Felkner’s comments, the examples he provided certainly were an example of bad teaching, sex-ed of any kind for children that age is wrong.

    “Sorry kiddo, but I have experience parenting teenagers and I have experience being a teenager. While you may have urges beyond your control, you do not speak for every child. You certainly don’t speak for my children or for the teenager I used to be.”

    I’m not going to discredit the knowledge gained through parenting, I never offered that knowledge, I was just attempting to provide things from my point of view. Also, you said I have urges beyond my control, which I assume suggests that I’m not abstaining. While I preferred to keep that disclosed, I’ll just state I am, and that I haven’t gave in to any such ‘urges.’ I was just saying that I know a large enough portion are that it is something that should be considered and addressed. I wasn’t speaking for every child, I was offering a view point from someone who sees other kids, myself included, behaving differently then in the class or with their parents.

    “By the way, are you sure you read here? You mention smiling at our “insight” into students’ minds…”

    I regret taking that angle, and I apologized for it in a recent post. I directed anger from the issue towards the audience, which I shouldn’t have.

    So with that said, I’d just like to clarify:

    1. I’m not condoning practices other then abstinence in any way, I was just stating I feel that abstinence SHOULD be promoted and suggested, but the resources for safe sex should be available.
    2. I certainly NEVER meant to suggest that parents shouldn’t be involved. Parents should be involved at least ten fold more then any institution ever should.
    3. As several of you have stated, and which I would in fact agree to, sex-ed SHOULD be a parent opted class, and what is taught in it should be completely disclosed. The fact that the sex-ed class is mandated and required was one of the reasons I felt that the safe-sex option would be a benefit for the class, is because as long as it was being taught to everyone, you’d wasn’t to reach the ones already at risk or making poor decisions, not to encourage people to make those decisions.

    Again, I definitely understand the other side of this perspective, and I only wish I started off a bit more respectfully. If anything, my speaking out wasn’t to stress the importance of this being taught in school, but just the importance of it being taught in general and in some form, the degree of which I will agree should be up to the parent. It’s a problem that I think my generation is facing, amongst others.

    Comment by Anonymous Student — May 22, 2007 @ 8:13 pm | Reply

  11. Thank you for the clarification and corrections. I’m glad to read that you support parents being able to make these decisions rather than the government.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 22, 2007 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

  12. I’m working on another post and limited with time but I just wanted to say that you certainly sound mature and your parents should be proud as you sound like you have your head on straight.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — May 22, 2007 @ 9:29 pm | Reply

  13. Hello all,

    Also I believe that Anonymous Student was suddenly impelled (with intensity) to answer for his/her and friends/generations points of view. I think that kind of passion is wonderful. It’s why teenagers exist. And why parents NEED to exist.

    Point of view, joie de vivre, conversation — this is your truth and develops your understanding of truth in others. Enjoy!

    Comment by BarbaraC — May 22, 2007 @ 9:51 pm | Reply


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