By Joneen Mackenzie RN, the Center for Relationship Education
I am perplexed and bewildered. The hostility of those who are against teaching abstinence education which includes skills to live and love well is amazing. Young people need to be educated, equipped and empowered with the skills necessary to develop healthy relationships, build strong lifetime committed partnerships / marriages and form safe and stable families in their future. Many of the highest risk students are those who do not live in healthy or safe and stable families. If they do not know what this looks like, how are they going to be able to do this without assistance and education?
Children are children and desperately need the guidance of adults especially due to the executive decision making limitations inherent in adolescent brain development. Why do rental car companies know that young people take more risks and have limited cognitive executive functioning of their developing brain and do not rent their cars to those under the age of 25, yet educational professionals seem to not be aware of this? Students need to be taught the healthiest and most positive message of protecting their heart as well as their bodies. They need to be inspired by a curriculum that expects more from them. They need to be captivated and motivated to do something that makes them reach higher, do better. The bigotry of low expectations needs to be over!
The mayor of New York has probably been told that the curricula mandated in NYC schools include abstinence. I think not. Abstinence is mentioned in these so called, “evidence based curricula” and is talked about as a form of birth control. If there was equal time given in these programs to skill building for healthy relationship development, strategies to resist temptation such as drugs, alcohol, sex, smoking; and if there were constructs teaching strategies about self-regulation, impulse control, personal power / responsibility, future orientation, positive youth development and poverty prevention, I do not think there would be so many people against talking about risk reduction in the form of contraceptives.
Currently, the focus of these programs now mandated in NYC schools is to ensure that kids know about condoms and contraceptives, how to buy them, how to use them, what they feel like, what they cost, where to get them, how to store them, how to dispose of them, when to put them on, how to feel comfortable negotiating their use and all of the details regarding safe sex practices. They also want children to know that they have a right to privacy and to not tell their parents about these devices.
Not all parents think this is the way to educate children about sex. Don’t they deserve a choice?
Contact: Bill O’Reilly, 212-396-9117 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NYC Sex Ed Under Fire
NEW YORK CITY’S CONTROVERSIAL SEX EDUCATION PROGRAM – IT WAS JUST MADE MANDATORY -- WILL COME UNDER FIRE BY A COALITION OF ORGANIZATIONS FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT OF NEW YORK CITY PARENTS TO ENROLL THEIR CHILDREN IN AN ALTERNATIVE ABSTINENCE-BASED CURRICULUM, AT A NEWS CONFERENCE ON MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26TH AT 12 NOON ON THE STEPS OF CITY HALL.
THE NYC PARENTS’ CHOICE COALITION (NYCPARENTSCHOICE.ORG) WILL UNVEIL A GRASSROOTS AND AUTOMATED TELEPHONE CAMPAIGN URGING PARENTS ACROSS THE CITY TO DEMAND THEIR RIGHT TO CHOOSE THE MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL SEX ED CURRICULUM THEY BELIEVE IS RIGHT FOR THEIR CHILDREN.
DATE: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2011
TIME: 12 NOON
PLACE: CITY HALL STEPS
By Greg Pfundstein
We received some great news for the Parents’ Choice Coalition earlier this week: the American College of Pediatricians sent us a letter of support and also sent letters to Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott urging them to allow an abstinence based education program. “The physicians at the American College of Pediatricians support the NYC Parents’ Choice Coalition and have mailed a letter to both Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott to encourage them and the local school boards to adopt a strongly abstinence-based program,” the letter said. “This type of program has the best proven track record in reducing teen sexual activity and is the most logical choice.”
You can find the whole letter here. Please read it and pass it on to friends and family who share our concerns about the new mandate. Also included with the letter was an in-depth position paper from the ACP on why they support abstinence education. It is really a must read for anyone with questions about this issue!
Thank all of you for your support, and please help us spread the word!
By Caroline Van Horn, World Youth Alliance
When a woman discovers she is pregnant she is immediately hyper-aware of all she consumes, knowing it will affect the tiny baby growing within her. Alcohol is eliminated, vegetables and fruits are increased and there is careful review with the doctor as to what vitamins should be taken to enhance the child’s health and growth before it is ever born. The same continues once the child is born and throughout the child’s growth into adolescence – many parents try to ensure that what their child consumes is free from chemicals, trans fats and full of nutrients. Parents know there are certain brands of food that should be outright avoided.
This same attention to what your child physically consumes should be given to what they mentally consume. Unfortunately, the NYC Department of Education is currently committed to providing mental ‘junk food’ to our young people, in the guise of the mandated sexual health curricula which the city has identified and chosen.
The current sexual education curricula were chosen from over 29 other options by a panel of stakeholders.[i] Only comprehensive sexual education curricula recommended by groups such as SIECUS and Advocates For Youth were considered, with abstinence-only curricula deliberately excluded.[ii] Education, Training, Research Associates (ETR), the publisher of the chosen curricula, was developed in 1981 as the education department of Planned Parenthood in Santa Cruz, CA. It is now a private, non-profit organization but still has ties with Planned Parenthood (PP).[iii] The program refers students to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America as well as to other radical organizations such as SIECUS, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Girls Inc. [iv]
Parents are the first and best educators of their children. The city has demonstrated that they neither care nor have the capacity to identify a science and evidence based, age-appropriate curriculum that will teach our children to make healthy, future-minded choices. It is time for parents to clearly reject the mental ‘junk food’ that Chancellor Wallcott wants to feed to the children in NYC public schools.
[i]“Health Education Frequently Asked Questions.” NYC Department of Education. n.d. Web. 31 May 2011. <http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/44111047-BCA9-43D0-9744- 1279DDBF3EB9/72785/FAQsforsecondaryhealthcurriculum.pdf>
[ii]Philip M. Alberti, et. al, “NYC Sex Education Pilot Program: Process Evaluation Results,” New York City Department of Education. New York Civil Liberties Union. Web. 26 May 2011. <http://www.nyclu.org/files/releases/Bronx_pilot_evaluation_05.27.10.pdf>
The requirements a curricula had to meet to be considered were: 1) evidence-based in that it was effective at delaying sexual activity or increasing condom and/or contraceptive use 2) classroom-based 3) geared to co-educational classrooms; and 4) recently published. Curricula was excluded if it 1) exclusively covered HIV/AIDS (since NYC already had a curriculum for this) 2) was abstinence-only 3) targeted subpopulations such as girls only 4) required significant ongoing external resources 5) were not designed for urban settings.
[iii]“About ETR.” ETR Associates. n.d. Web. 31 May 2011. <http://www.etr.org/about.html>
[iv]“Topics In Brief.” ReCAPP Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention. ETR Associates. n.d. Web. 31 May 2011. <http://www.etr.org/recapp/index.cfm?fuseaction=pages.TopicsInBriefDetail&PageID=75>
By Michael Benjamin
A few days ago, Rev. Michel Faulkner told me about a remarkable and eye-opening article about the attitudes of black teenagers towards sex. The article, “Our Teens’ Secret Sex Lives,” appears in the October issue of Essence magazine, on newsstands September 12th.
In the article, ESSENCE senior writer Jeannine Amber interviewed dozens of young people to uncover the truth about teens and sex. Black youth report considerable pressure to have sex, according to a survey of 1,500 black youth ages 13-21 released by ESSENCE Magazine and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Of those who have had sex, 47% of those ages 13-21 (including 21% of those 13-15) say they have been pressured to go further sexually than they wanted to.
The most interesting aspect of the survey was confirmation that black teens – like all teens – say that parents are the most influential people in their lives. Half of the 13-15 year-olds say their parents’ opinions matter the most when they are deciding whether or not to have sex. The survey makes clear that young people desire to hear from their parents about relationships.
Black youth, particularly younger teens, say there is much their parents can do to help:
The teen pregnancy rate among African-American youth has plummeted 44% since 1990 and the teen birth rate has dropped 47% since 1991. While teen pregnancy and birth rates dropped overall over the past two decades, rates among African-Americans declined more than those of any other racial or ethnic group.
The report reveals that parents can help to put an end to these troubling statistics, if they put in the effort that’s needed to educate and communicate with our children now.
The survey reveals that parental influences are the strongest chance we have at reaching younger teens (ages 13-15).
Parents must remember that their kids want to hear from you. Sixty-seven percent of teens felt if more teens were open to talking with their parents about sex, and could, there would be less teen pregnancy.
NYC parents must seize the opportunity today to tell Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott that you demand an abstinence-centered sex education curriculum available to your teenagers.
You should have a curriculum that reflects what you are teaching your children. Click on the “Take Action” tab and make your voice heard today.
Join the NYC Parents Choice Coalition.
LeAnna Benn, Teen-Aid, Inc.
Comprehensive sex education (CSE) isn’t as comprehensive as abstinence education. CSE ignores the fact that humans are social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and financial while only focusing on the physical aspects and immediate pleasures. It communicates about the negative consequences but negates the message of commitment that is biologically and psychologically associated with sexual intercourse. Rarely, if ever, are these other aspects mentioned, while abstinence teaches the skills to achieve optimum relationship outcomes. CSE is physical-only education. Abstinence education uses cognitive behavioral or rationally living techniques that are much more effective than the old mantras of “don’t have unprotected sex” and “values clarification” methods that CSE programs use.
Abstinence teaches students how to think which equips them beyond Friday night and a piece of latex. It teaches the self control needed to reduce domestic violence, crime and addictive patterns. The fundamental skill building in abstinence programs challenge the amoral thinking of the day which gives teens the courage to think on their own, grasp concepts beyond today and plan for the future including the next generation. Abstinence gives teens a picture of how their individual behavior impacts the culture; empowers them to change their world. CSE programs focus on the methods and benefits of gratification today. Abstinence challenges teens to consider the well being of others, their future partners and children. Why would a culture train children to act impulsively (as if teens needed training to be impulsive) instead of equipping them for adulthood which requires long term commitments, planning and thinking?
By Mary Anne Mosack, National Abstinence Education Foundation
The new sex education mandate in NYC public schools claims a serious attempt to curb pregnancy and disease among youth with an approach that teaches contraceptive skill building for children. Unfortunately we know, from years of so-called “comprehensive” sex education, that for youth this typically translates into a, just wrap it up and you are good to go, message! So, this controversial mandate begs the question, “Is the purpose of the instruction to insure that teens refrain from sex or refrain from having sex without a condom?” Being clear on the message will determine the success of the program in reaching its goals, and parents are extremely interested in both.
When we teach children anything from math skills to drivers’ education we do so with an expectation that they will use the knowledge. So does teaching condom usage to 6th and 7th graders come with some collateral damage we are willing to accept—namely, that they will actually initiate sexual activity to try out the “new” information and fulfill the implied expectation that they are ready for sex? Wouldn’t a tweener legitimately ask, “Why else are they teaching me this stuff?” Those who have initiated and support this approach, with the seemingly good will to prevent pregnancy and disease among teens, should be prepared for the fallout that such explicit sex education can have on actually increasing the very problems they want to eliminate. It is no small consideration that they have been passing out condoms for 20 years in NYC public schools.
Parents should begin to ask if we are not, in fact, aiding and abetting the very behavior we claim to want to stop. We are not empowering our 6th and 7th graders to abstain from sex; we are empowering them to make sure that sex is not “unprotected”. Clearly the message is that protected sex is appropriate sex and having smart, 13 year old sex is a proud and responsible choice. For most parents this “expectation” falls far short of what they want for their children. It is time to help our children expect more from themselves and time for parents and educators to help them with greater expectations.