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Sex Education Should Start At An Earlier Age?

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Sex Education Should Start At An Earlier Age?
« on: September 03, 2009, 08:27:46 PM »
U.S. Conservatives Attack UNESCO's Sex Ed Guidelines

By BRUCE CRUMLEY / PARIS Bruce Crumley / Paris – 45 mins ago

Any attempt to decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies and slow the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV around the world has to be a good thing, right? That's what the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) thought. But now it finds itself under fire from American conservatives for proposing a new set of guidelines on sex education in schools as a means of helping young people avoid potentially dangerous sexual activity.

The guidelines, which UNESCO is still preparing, recommend that national governments, education ministries and school systems around the world provide students with more sex education at an earlier age than they usually learn it now, and then, as they mature, offer them more detailed information about avoiding pregnancies and disease. The goal is simple: with contraception often not an option in many parts of the world - and vaccines to prevent diseases like AIDS still unavailable - UNESCO hopes that teaching children more about the risks of sexual activity will help them steer clear of such perils. The organization believes this could be one way to scale back the 111 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases reported among people aged 10 to 24 globally each year, and similarly reduce the 4.4 million abortions sought by women aged 15 to 19 annually.

But a handful of conservative U.S. news pundits have been denouncing the guidelines since late August, when they snapped up the online version of the UNESCO working document. The biggest issue for critics is the recommendation that educators begin teaching students introductory reproductive and sexual subjects earlier than usual: between the ages of five and eight. More detailed information would then be taught to kids aged nine to 12. Between the ages of 12 and 15, UNESCO recommends students be instructed about contraception, and the differences between "safe abortion and post-abortion care" and potentially life-threatening forms of improvised pregnancy termination.

Given their hostility to abortion and their insistence that abstinence is the only legitimate way of avoiding pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, it isn't surprising that some American conservative and evangelical groups have reacted angrily to the UNESCO document. "U.N. Report Advocates Teaching Masturbation to 5-Year-Olds" read the headline of's Aug. 26 story. "New UNESCO Sex Education Guidelines Call on Children to Promote Abortions," a article announced on Sept.1, the same day conservative news site warned that "U.S. Funds U.N. Group That Supports Teaching 5-to-8-Year Olds about Masturbation."

The obsession with onanism is a bit curious, given that the 102-page document only mentions masturbation five times: twice to explain what the term means to five-to-eight-year-olds, saying teachers should note that it's "not harmful, but should be done in private," and the other three times in a section referring to nine-to-15-year-olds, pointing out that these kids should be told it "does not cause physical or emotional harm" and is "often a person's first experience of sexual pleasure."

Yet, that focus and the wider conservative reaction to the UNESCO document seems to reflect a similar strategy to the one employed to fight President Barack Obama's proposed health reform. First, critics launched the debate before UNESCO has even finished its recommendations, which are based on analysis of 80 different studies of sex education programs. Second, they broadcast sensational accusations of the offending proposal's intent to better grab - and alarm - the public. (See pictures of the health-care debate turning angry.)

"This isn't about teaching five-year-olds how to masturbate, but rather providing young people with better information about themselves and how they can avoid trouble and danger," says Sue Williams, chief of UNESCO's press relations department in Paris. "We're not surprised by this reaction, nor the places it's coming from. In fact, our very goal with such recommendations is to initiate the kind of debate, reflection, and action that moves the topic forward. Our desire now, however, is that debate be both informed and balanced."

Apart from the outcry from American conservative groups, however, it appears the response to the recommendations elsewhere in the world has been mostly calm. Williams says the reaction and press coverage has largely been supportive, including in "conservative places like the Solomon Islands and Ethiopia, which have to balance traditional values with pressing problems created by unwanted pregnancy and disease."

So what happens now? Detractors will probably continue hammering at the document even as it's readied for the Sex and Relationships Education Conference starting Sept. 7 in Birmingham, England. The guidelines will then be presented to the U.N. in New York City sometime in October, at which point governments and education officials can either act on or ignore them as they wish. There's a chance that, in the U.S., UNESCO's recommendations will be drowned out by the knee-jerk outrage of conservative pundits. But at least the guidelines can undergo sober and thoughtful examination in more open-minded places ... like Ethiopia.

...than to speak out and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln



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Re: Sex Education Should Start at an Earlier Age?
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2009, 04:02:07 AM »
heeey? what's the point of this?

if you can't quit, then please help warn the kids..
support Picture-Based Health Warning Bill  =>


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