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Sex for Early Teens Less Harmful

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#1 Anastashia

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Posted 26 May 2003 - 05:24 PM

Quote

The LA Times honored an author who advocates sex for young teens.

The newspaper awarded its Los Angeles Times Book Prize to Judith Levine. Her book "Harmful to Minors" advocates sex for early teens. She argues that abstinence-only sex education and child pornography laws are more harmful to children than early teen sex or Internet pedophiles.

News Central The Point Disagrees With LA Times and Author

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#2 Bad Wolf

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Posted 26 May 2003 - 05:29 PM

Your link doesn't lead me to anything about this issue but appears to be a news link.

I'd have to read what this person says. While I think that knowledge is power I find it hard to believe that anyone actually thinks child pornography laws are a bad thing.

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#3 RommieSG

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Posted 26 May 2003 - 05:32 PM

How early is 'early' for early teens? Like, are we talking 13? :unsure:

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#4 Godeskian

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Posted 26 May 2003 - 05:46 PM

It's not exactly uncommon for 13 year olds to already be having sex.

Given that, and given that generations of parents have tried and failed to get their kids to stop having sex, i tend to fall on the side of educating them to do it safely at least.

and don't forget, not to many centuries ago, 13, was considered an okay age to get married and start a family at.

#5 Uncle Sid

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Posted 26 May 2003 - 09:53 PM

The thing is that her point might be that abstinence-only education leaves kids open to not being prepared if they get into these situations that young, but I think it's hideous to consider child pornography to be better than anything, let alone that.  It's not just that children are sex objects, but the kids are too young to understand the implications of what they are getting into, for one thing, and not even a parent should be allowed to speak for a child in that regard.  

Further, if you're married at 13 or so, at least no one is widely circulating your nekkid pictures in rather intimate poses publicly for money.  Not to mention that kids are very suseptible to predatory handling.  The adult porn industry itself is a dangerous place for adults, let alone a child in the kiddie porn industry.  

More than ever, I think people these days need to be adults before they are having sex, and I don't mean just happening to be 18 yrs old either, although legally there's no way to stop that.  Unfortunately, sexual liberation has liberated more than just more healthy attitudes about sex, there's a whole range of problems that come with it.  While only teaching abstinence is wishful thinking for controlling this issue, given raging teen hormones, if at all possible it should still be a central facet of sex ed.  

I really think that people like this think they can get rid of dangerous behaviors like child porn by simply redefining the terms so that they are no longer considered dangerous.  Similarly, the teen sex problem should be resolved by simply not considering it a problem anymore.  Voila!  No more problems.  Wasn't that easy?

Getting teenage children to not have sex is a problem of upbringing, education, and parental supervision, but it is a problem that needs solving, not just giving in and assuming it's going to happen anyway.  

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#6 the Pill

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Posted 26 May 2003 - 10:47 PM

What Uncle Sid said.

#7 MuseZack

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 02:38 AM

Judith Levine has been the target of an organized smear campaign by people like Dr. Laura Schliessinger and the like, mainly for her rather common-sense observations regarding the ineffective and counterproductive nature of abstinence-only sex education.  While I don't agree with everything she has to say, she's certainly a valuable counterpoint to those voices who would make teenagers hate and fear their own desires without even understanding them.

Here's a rather extensive interview with Levine where she addresses most of the charges against her.  If the interview is accurate, she's pretty far from an "advocate" of early teens having sex:  http://www.salon.com...9/levine_talks/

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#8 Rhea

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 03:28 AM

You would think that parents, having actually BEEN teens themselves, would take a moment to cast back and remember how truly curious and horny and peer-pressure-driven teens are.

Certainly there are children having sex at 13; there are children having sex at 16; and no amount of parent lectures or careful teaching seems to stop horny teenagers from having sex.

You would think that educating children as to how to protect themselves and what to expect so as to avoid unwanted pregnancies and even worse, AIDs, would be far preferable to trying to pretend that it never happens.  :wacko: But no, I swear there are people who would rather let their children die through ignorance than admit that there might be a possiblity that THEIR child might do the dirty deed.

It's typical that the people who are most vocally criticizing her rather commonsense approach to sex education and teen sex (and yes, I've read it - I have a friend who's a school nurse who teaches sex education every year) have never even READ the book they're so bitterly opposing.

Edited by Rhea, 27 May 2003 - 03:30 AM.

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#9 Godeskian

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 04:09 AM

amusingly enough

the dutch goverment takes the education approach. Dutch kids may enter high school with illusions about sex, but they don't leave there witht hem intact.

From the beginning of high school kids are taught that it's okay to have sex under two conditions.

1. You feel ready
2. You do it safely

beyond that, the dutch have basically said that they can't stop it, and so will do what they can to make sure it happens safely

and they come down like the hammer of god on anyone caught doing true child porno.

typically dutch, create a situation where people can prove if they are trustworthy, and are demolished if they prove unworthy of that trust.

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#10 iMel

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 04:27 AM

Uncle Sid, on May 26 2003, 05:00 AM, said:

More than ever, I think people these days need to be adults before they are having sex, and I don't mean just happening to be 18 yrs old either, although legally there's no way to stop that.
At age 14, a United States teenager typically enters high school.  Their grades in school affect their GPA and therefore rest of their life in regards to college and what sort of jobs they can get in the near future.  At age 17 or 18, a teenager must choose whether or not to attend a university straight out of high school and if not, usually what career they want to pursue.  An 18 year old can make a commitment to the military that lasts years and can vote for their government representatives.  A whole lot of life-changing decisions go on before and when a person is 18, and I definitely think that sex should be one of them legally.

Sex is as equally a huge responsbility as any of the aforementioned things.  And as with all of those other things, some 18 year olds and slightly younger teenagers can be responsible and make good decisions.  But I won't deny the fact there are irresponsible teenagers that don't try in school or don't research college and careers enough or vote completely uninformed or end up fleeing the country to avoid military commitments or have sex unsafely and then ending up pregnant or with STDs or emotionally scarred forever.
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#11 Laoise

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 04:30 AM

Godeskian, on May 26 2003, 11:16 AM, said:

1. You feel ready
2. You do it safely
That's pretty much what we were taught as well, in my sex ed classes.  They did urge abstinence from intercourse until ready, because it's the right thing to do (Catholic school) and because it's the best way to protect from pregnancy.  But we learnt about other ways of protection, what to do if you thought you might be pregnant, ways to talk to your parents about sex, ways you might tell if you're ready, and a lot of other really important and useful things.

We actually had sex education, from grade 5 up. :)
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#12 Taryn Wander'r

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 05:55 AM

Laoise, on May 26 2003, 05:37 PM, said:

We actually had sex education, from grade 5 up. :)
^^ Was it Grade 5 or Grade 4? You and I both went through Alberta Catholic ed, right?

I was happy enough with the sex education that I got. I mean they did leave some things out but I was comfortable enough to talk about it with my parents or other adults I trusted if I had a really pressing question.

That and I hung around a lot of theatres that had all those 'talking to your child about AIDS' pamphlets and and things like that lying around. :D

From what I'm lead to believe, though, many American schools tend to be a bit more, um, conservative. Like many others have pointed out, ignorance is a lot more dangerous than honesty.

Edited by Taryn Wander'r, 27 May 2003 - 05:56 AM.


#13 Laoise

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 06:26 AM

^ I know I had sex ed in grade 5, but I can't remember if it was our first or second year, so I said 5 to be safe.  I'm in Alberta Catholic ed too (Edmonton Catholic specifically) and  I was really happy with what I got, and really happy with how the teachers approached the subject.  Every one of them would go out of their way to make sure all our questions were answered, even if they couldn't really give us 'good Catholic' answers.

[quote]From what I'm lead to believe, though, many American schools tend to be a bit more, um, conservative. Like many others have pointed out, ignorance is a lot more dangerous than honesty. [/qoute]

Definately true.  I'm always amazed when it seems I got a better sex education in Catholic schools than Americans did in public schools.  It sounds like it should be the other way around! :)

Ignorance is very dangerous, and I'm glad I didn't have to deal with it personally.
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#14 Christopher

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 06:31 AM

Ignorance is indeed dangerous.  There are many teenage girls out there who sincerely believe that they can't get pregnant if they don't want to.

The argument that abstinence is the best way to avoid the perils of sex has always made about as much sense to me as saying that the best way to avoid food poisoning is to give up eating.

There are also studies which have shown that those societies that most strongly repress physical affection and intimacy among adolescents (as well as displays of physical affection toward infants) are the societies most prone to violence, rape, sexism, drug addiction and other sociopathologies:

http://www.psc.uc.ed...S_Prescott1.htm

Of course, a correlation doesn't prove which way the cause and effect relationship goes, and it could be that both are caused by some other factor. But it's worth considering.  Societies more open with physical affection and sex tend to be less violent.  And touch deprivation has been linked with neurological damage leading to antisocial tendencies.
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#15 Laoise

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 07:05 AM

Christopher, on May 26 2003, 01:38 PM, said:

The argument that abstinence is the best way to avoid the perils of sex has always made about as much sense to me as saying that the best way to avoid food poisoning is to give up eating.
You die without eating, but you're not going to die without sexual intercourse.  There are plenty of ways to show affection and love that don't involve intercourse.  And out of non-permanent methods of birth control, abstinence definately has the lowest failure rate ;)  Not having sex is the best way to prevent the problems associated with sex.  People should be aware of that.
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#16 Orpheus

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 07:32 AM

I had excellent sex education in 6th grade (IIRC, I could be off by a year, either way)  in the DeKalb County Public Schools (Atlanta, GA). Quite frankly, I learned the answers to many anatomical questions that my father (a professor of Anatomy) has not bothered to tell me to this day.  (For years, I've been sending him journal articles on sex and pelvic anatomy, which he incorporates into his classes, earning him an entirely undeserved reputation among some of his students as "the coolest prof around")

After I moved from Atlanta, I was shocked and horrified by the sexual ignorance of my classmates in high school, college, and even among the younger medical students. I thank thee twice, Dekalb County!

A warning to our younger readers: as well informed as I was (and I assure you, I researched it as thoroughly as I ever researched anything) my first four teen sexual experiences, at an age that many would consider "too early", were terrible. Yes, there is such a thing as bad sex, and not only is it all too common, it's especially common at an early age. It's not entirely a function of inexperience, either as, years later, I had long satisfying relationships with (initially) virgins that were fireworks from day one. Sex isn't just physical

Sometimes the build-up really is more fun than the consummation. Enjoy it while you still can. Besides, if you start as early as I did, you might end up like me - and that's scarier than pregnancy or AIDS!

Edited by Orpheus, 27 May 2003 - 07:33 AM.


#17 Kimmer

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 08:09 AM

The longer kids wait, the better, IMHO. Sex is more than a physical reaction, and teens are normally not ready for the emotional reactions that take place.

BUT, kids are more "worldly" now than when I was growing up, and you have to educate them. You have to be realistic and recognize that they will try things, they will experiment. Much better that they have protected sex, than unwanted babies and/or diseases. So while I think abstinence-only is the better way, it's not the only way and kids need to be given all the healthy options.

When I was in school, the BOYS got sex ed on GIRLS before we did!  :angry: Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!  Here we are as 6th graders and the boys are teasing us about what our bodies are going to do. It was embarrassing and made many of us girls feel ashamed.

The sex ed I finally got in school didn't teach me a darn thing. Worse, my parents would NOT talk to me about the whole thing. The second best education I received was from my youth pastor, who taught us the biblical perspective. He used a book put out by the Methodist churches (came with a plain brown wrapper too - hahaha) ... and we sat as Jr. High'ers and ate up everything. He and his wife were willing to TALK to us without being embarrassed. Of course, he was fired shortly afterwards.

I don't know if I'd honor Judith Levine - I'd need to read her book to really know what I think of her. But, unless parents are willing to take responsibilty for teaching their kids, the schools and/or peers are going to do it for them.

#18 Rov Judicata

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 08:34 AM

Am I the only one amused by kimmer's signature in this context?

Anyway, I do think the author has some blind spots, but our sex ed system is severely broken. The provincial, naive attitude that reigns supreme  in sexed classes needs to be obliterated.

Speaking as someone only a few years removed from said "education", there's little discussion of alternatives; just no-sex or you're dead. Obviously, this is useless.

Quote

You die without eating, but you're not going to die without sexual intercourse.

While that is of course true, it misses an important point. Human beings need love, and companionship, and sex. It's built into us, and it's a healthy, normal thing to do. Attempting to scare teenagers into denying their own impulses strikes me as profoundly unwise, not to mention ineffective.
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#19 Cait

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 09:02 AM

Quote

While that is of course true, it misses an important point. Human beings need love, and companionship, and sex. It's built into us, and it's a healthy, normal thing to do. Attempting to scare teenagers into denying their own impulses strikes me as profoundly unwise, not to mention ineffective.

Cait applaudes wildly for Rov.........

We are hard wired as human beings to have the intense impulse/desire to reproduce.  To deny the instinct is to deny the the reasons for the failure of sex ed classes in general.

While cultural taboos and morality (of almost all cultures)  frown upon the obvious, the fact remains that we are sexual beings.  It is natural and should be communicated as a natrual part of existence.

Now that said, the resposibilites and consequences of sex are also just as real...... and need to be communicated as part of sex ed..  

It is only in understanding the *truth* of our existence that real understanding can take place.. and once understood, the responsibilities for our actions can be understood in the  right context...

It helps if there is an ansence of guilt and moral judgment, but education can do the job even in the face of morality-- but only if education is armed with the truth.....

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#20 Laoise

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Posted 27 May 2003 - 09:07 AM

Javert Rovinski, on May 26 2003, 03:41 PM, said:

Quote

You die without eating, but you're not going to die without sexual intercourse.

While that is of course true, it misses an important point. Human beings need love, and companionship, and sex. It's built into us, and it's a healthy, normal thing to do. Attempting to scare teenagers into denying their own impulses strikes me as profoundly unwise, not to mention ineffective.
It's not a scare tactic, though, it's the truth.  If you're not having sex (or paying big bucks for in vitro fertilization, which not many teens are really going to do) you aren't going to get yourself or someone else pregnant.  If you're not having sex, the chances of getting a STD are pretty small.

It's not just something to scare teenagers, ti's the truth.  And personally, I don't think it's terribly natural to go around having sex before you're 15, which is when I had my last sex ed class.

I've never said it's a good idea to teach just abstinence.  It's not.  But making sure teenagers know that not having sex is the most effective protection there is... well, I don't see anything wrong with that, so long as it's not the only thing being taught.
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