Protecting Innocence or Promoting Ignorance?
There are times when I speak to 8th-grade students and am really torn about how much information to share because the experiences of the students are SO extreme.
High school students say they love that I “keep it real” and don’t sugarcoat anything. That is a little more difficult for me to do when I am in 8th-grade classes because some of the girls are so innocent that I almost cringe when the more experienced girls ask very explicit questions or make vulgar comments.
This is an example of the type of innocence I sometimes encounter:
A few years ago, an 8th-grade girl waited to speak with me after class. She told me she did not understand how anyone could contract an STD from oral sex. Before I could reply, she asked, “Isn’t that over the phone?”
In my line of work, there is something refreshing about a young lady who doesn’t know what oral sex is because at least that means she is not doing it. However, in today’s culture, a girl’s naiveté when it comes to knowledge about sex can leave her vulnerable to potential problems in the future.
I was actually glad this young lady asked the question privately instead of in front of the class. It allowed me to arm her with factual information without her becoming the laughing stock of the class. I’m sure parents would not want their child(ren) to be ridiculed by their classmates for asking an innocent question about sex out of ignorance.
A Tale of Two Different Worlds!
The following is a letter from a student who thought 8th-grade girls were too young to be learning about sex and definitely weren’t having sex:
“I thought it was a good program. But I don’t understand why we have to learn this stuff in the 8th grade. I couldn’t take all the specific stuff about sex. So, yes, I brought out my bible. When people are 13, we aren’t ‘doing it’ and most of us don’t have time for that stuff anyways!”
Bless her heart! I really wish this young lady’s reality were “the norm.” It would be great if 8th grade students really were too busy to have sex. Unfortunately, the following letter proves there are some 8th grade girls who have plenty of time for sex:
“I really wish I would have taken this class maybe 2-3 weeks ago cause if I would have I would still be a virgin and I wouldn’t be worrying about being pregnant right now…I wanna say it just happened but I don’t think it can just happen 9 times in one week. The sad part is I didn’t like it and it’s not memorable at all.”
Where on earth were this young lady’s parents that she had the time and freedom to have sex nine times in one week? And why on earth would she do something nine times in one week that she did not even enjoy doing? :: Sigh :: We have a lot of work to do!
It is obvious the young ladies who wrote the two letters above live in very different worlds. The good news is, it sounds like the first young lady’s world includes parents who:
- Keep her so involved with extracurricular activities that she does not have time to have sex.
- Brought her up to have a strong faith and values that support a lifestyle of abstinence.
However, the fact that she is so uncomfortable hearing about sex that she has to pull out her bible leads me to believe her parents have not properly prepared her for the REAL world.
While well-intentioned parents may think they are protecting their children’s innocence by not talking to them at all about sex, what they end up doing instead is promoting ignorance that could prove very costly for their children in the future.
The best way to protect their futures is by telling them the truth about sex before they hear and believe a lie from someone else!
Do you see how challenging my work can be when the students’ knowledge levels and experiences can be worlds apart? Imagine having to teach a class where there is a girl who has had sex nine times in one week in the same class as a girl who has to pull out her bible because the information is too much for her to handle.
If parents would commit to being their children’s primary source of information about sex, my job wouldn’t be nearly as necessary or challenging.
Jonava JohnsonApril 23, 2013 at 9:12 pm
I admire your work. Thank you for your honesty and for being candid with children who definitely have a need to know. This reminds me of my ex-spouse’s daughter calling him long distance to ask how does she use a ”pad” when she started her cycle for the first time. She had no clue,how to make the pad stick to her panties. She also thought it would last for one day and after she showered it would magically go away. Her mother gave her a pad and a book to read, her father called me to upset that she started her cycle to explain anything to her. They were blessed she started at 13 yrs old. Its sad when parents pass on ignorance instead of knowledge with wisdom. Thank you for all that you are doing with our children. Jonava
Jackie BrewtonApril 23, 2013 at 9:39 pm
Thank you Jonava for those kind words and for taking the time to read my blog! Yes, it is sad when children can't count on their parents to make sure they are armed with the knowledge they need to progress safely though their adolescent years! Hope to hear more from you in the future! Blessings! 🙂
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