robertogreco + media + adolescence   4

Why Schools Can’t Teach Sex Ed in the Internet Age
"But school board members contend that 9th grade students have already been exposed to the contents of the book—and much, much more. They argue that even relatively modern sex ed has even not begun to reckon with what kids are now exposed to in person and online.

The singer Rihanna, for example, has legions of young fans. Her music video for the song “S&M”—viewed more than 57 million times on YouTube so far—shows the artist, pig-tied and writhing, cooing “chains and whips excite me.” It then cuts to her using a whip on men and women with mouths covered in duct tape.

“I think denying that [sex] is part of our culture in 2014 is really not serving our kids well,” says Lara Calvert-York, president of the Fremont school board, who argues that kids are already seeing hyper-sexualized content—on after school TV. “So, let’s have a frank conversation about what these things are if that’s what the kids need to talk about,” she says. “And let’s do it in classroom setting, with highly qualified, credentialed teachers, who know how to have those conversations. Because a lot of parents don’t know how to have that conversation when they’re sitting next to their kids and it comes up in a TV show. Everyone is feeling a little awkward.”

But the Fremont parents aren’t budging. “Any good parent monitors what their child has access to,” says Topham. “We don’t say, ‘they’re going to drink anyway, let’s give them a car with bigger airbags.’” The parents note that the book was actually written for college students, and refers to college-related activities like bar crawls. (While acknowledging this, the book’s author Sara L. C. Mackenzie, believes it’s appropriate for high schoolers; her children read it at 13.)

The book has been shelved, at least for this year. But the problem isn’t going away. The Fremont showdown is a local skirmish in what has become a complicated and exhausting battle that schools and parents are facing across the nation. How, when, and what to tell kids about sex today? TIME reviewed the leading research on the subject as well as currently available resources to produce the information that follows, as well as specific guides to how and when to talk to kids on individual topics."



"On paper, the United States is checking all the right boxes of managing teen sexual behavior. The national pregnancy rate is at a record low and it appears teens are waiting longer to have sex, and those that are sexually active are using birth control more than previous years. But these numbers only tell a tiny snippet of the story.

“Sex education in the U.S. has only gotten worse,” says Victor Strasburger, an adolescent medicine expert and distinguished professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. “Most of the time they don’t talk about contraception, they don’t talk about risk of pregnancy, STIs [sexually transmitted infections]—certainly not abortion. At some point you would think adults would come to their senses and say hey we have to counteract this.”

Strasburger says the U.S. shouldn’t base success on its teen pregnancy numbers: “Everyone else’s teen pregnancy rate has gone down too. Before we pat ourselves on the back, we should acknowledge that we still have the highest rate in the Western World.”

Not only does sex education still virtually not exist in some areas of the country, but school programs that do teach kids about what used to be called the facts of life start too late. A recent CDC study showed that among teens ages 15-17 who have had sex, nearly 80% did not receive any formal sex education before they lost their virginity. Or, if they did, it was only to discourage them from being sexually active. “Parents and legislators fail to understand that although they may favor abstinence-only sex education (despite the lack of any evidence of its effectiveness), the media are decidedly not abstinence only,” reads a 2010 American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement.

“I had sex with my older boyfriend at 16,” says Ashley Jones, 22, a young Georgia woman. “Suddenly my dad wanted to talk about the birds and the bees. I was like, what? It’s too late!” (The Kinsey institute puts the average age that kids have first have sex at 16.9 for boys and 17.4 for girls.)

Current sex education, where it does exist, often teaches the basic plumbing, but it’s not answering the questions young people really have when it comes to sexuality: What should I do when my girlfriend/boyfriend is pressuring me to have sex? What on earth was happening in that video I probably shouldn’t have clicked online? What do I do when my best friend tells me they’re gay—or I think I am?

School-wide sex education largely ignores gay men and women. “I think the Internet is one of the most commonly used sources for young LGBT folks to gain information,” says Adrian Nava, 19, who says his question about same sex relationships in his Colorado high school sex ed class that was shot down by the teacher. “In some ways it’s great because online forums tend to be supportive and positive. But there’s so much misinformation that reinforces negative feelings.”

Sex ed courses tends to hyper-focus on the girls. “Girls are the ones who have babies,” says Victoria Jennings, director of the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University, whose research has shown there are globally more programs developed to help young girls navigate their sexuality than to help boys. Given the fact that recent CDC literature shows 43.9% of women have experienced some form of unwanted sexual violence that was not rape, and 23.4% of men have experienced the same, public health experts agree both sexes need education on appropriate behavior.

It doesn’t help that the two groups are getting quite different messages. “The way we talk to boys is antiquated and stereotypical,” says Rosalind Wiseman, educator and author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, about teen girls and Masterminds and Wingmen, on boys. “There’s an assumption that they’re insensitive, sex-crazed, hormone-crazed. It’s no surprise that so many boys disengage from so many conversations about sex ed.”

We teach girls how to protect themselves, adds Wiseman, and their rights to say yes and no to sexual behaviors. But we don’t teach boys the complexities of these situations or that they’re a part of the conversation. “We talk to them in sound bites: ‘no means no.’ Well, of course it does, but it’s really confusing when you’re a 15-year-old boy and you’re interacting with girls that are trying out their sexuality,” she adds. Data show that boys are less likely than girls to talk to their parents about birth control or “how to say no to sex,” and 46% of sexually experienced teen boys do not receive formal instruction about contraception before they first have sex compared to 33% of teen girls.

Yet completely reshaping the sex education landscape is currently almost impossible, not just because of disagreements like the one in Fremont, but because schools lack resources. There’s historically large funding for abstinence-only education, but supporters of comprehensive sex education—which deals with contraception, sexually transmitted diseases and relationships—face significant logistical and financial barriers."
sexed  children  adolescence  media  teens  behavior  sexuality  trust  2014  alexandrasifferlin  controversy  pressure  relationships  emilyweinstein  victorstrasburger  socialmedia  sexting  parenting  myths  pornography  education  policy  politics  curriculum  sex 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Marginal Revolution: The case against adolescence
"Here is an interview with Robert Epstein, recommended. His new book, The Case Against Adolescence, argues that teenagers should be treated much more like adults."
robertepstein  teens  books  psychology  culture  adolescence  children  society  media  behavior  education  learning 
september 2007 by robertogreco
The Case Against Adolescence by Robert Epstein (kottke.org)
"Epstein says the infantilization of adolescents creates a lot of conflict and isolation on both sides of the divide. Over at Marginal Revolution, economist Tyler Cowen adds:"
robertepstein  teens  books  psychology  culture  adolescence  children  society  media  behavior  education  learning 
september 2007 by robertogreco
Psychology Today: Trashing Teens
"Psychologist Robert Epstein argues in a provocative book, "The Case Against Adolescence," that teens are far more competent than we assume, and most of their problems stem from restrictions placed on them."
robertepstein  adolescence  behavior  books  culture  education  learning  media  mind  psychology  society  teens  lcproject 
june 2007 by robertogreco

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