My sister immediately runs off with tears in her eyes. I did it, I finally did it. I won an argument. My eight-year-old self couldn’t be more proud. I can’t tell you when or where I heard that word, (probably television because everything can be blamed on pop culture, right?) but I just knew it was the ultimate comeback. While I’m basking in my triumph, my mother is looking at me with half anger and half confusion. “Mia, do you know what you just said,” she asks. “Yeah,” I say very confidently. “I hope she gets beat up.” It was then that my mother had “The Talk” with me. No, not the cute Birds and the Bees. The Sex Talk. She didn’t use adorable nicknames or analogies either; she used the real and actual terminology and my mother didn’t hold back.
I learned two valuable lessons that day. Lesson one, what sex is and lesson two, the power of words.
Of course, I had a ton of questions, but before I could do anything else, I made sure I went and apologized to my sister. Til this day, twenty years later, that is my biggest regret in life; it haunts me. I wish I could take it back and my heart literally sinks every time I think about it.
In this new era of exposing rapists and sexual offenders, finally, I can’t help but think that more parents and guardians are having “the talk” with their children. Good, I’m all for it, but we have to stop disguising sex. No, I’m not recommending that parents give all the graphic details nor should they give the Mean Girls Sex Education speech, you know the “Don’t have sex because you will get pregnant and die” then commence to passing around a box of condoms but let’s stop giving body parts and intercourse silly and fun names.
I’ve heard Peter and Cooter in place of penis and vagina and instead of sex, it’s being called “fun time”. Sure, we’re protecting kids from being exposed too fast, but the problem with that specific example is it’s appealing. Think about it, what kid wouldn’t want to have “fun time”? What child doesn’t like playing games? It’s an extreme example, but if someone was violating your child, they wouldn’t think anything of it because it’s fun.
So what are the official rules on Sex Education in Public Schools? Well, all states are somehow involved in sex education for public schoolchildren.
As of March 1, 2016:
- 24 states and the District of Columbia require public schools to teach sex education (21 of which mandate sex education and HIV education).
- 33 states and the District of Columbia require students to receive instruction about HIV/AIDS.
- 20 states require that if provided, sex and/or HIV education must be medically, factually or technically accurate. State definitions of “medically accurate” vary, from requiring that the department of health review curriculum for accuracy, to mandating that curriculum be based on information from “published authorities upon which medical professionals rely.”
Many states define parents’ rights concerning sexual education:
- 38 states and the District of Columbia require school districts to allow parental involvement in sex education programs.
- Four states require parental consent before a child can receive instruction.
- 35 states and the District of Columbia allow parents to opt-out on behalf of their children.
So basically, whether or not a parent may be ready to have that conversation with their child, there’s a great chance their child will hear about it soon enough. Just to put things into perspective, here are some stats on why Sex Ed is taught in schools:
- In 2011, approximately 24 percent of new HIV diagnoses were young people age 13 to 24
- Human papillomavirus is the most common STI among teens; some estimates find that up to 35 percent of teens ages 14 to 19 have HPV.
- Girls age 15 to 19 have the highest rates of Gonorrhea and the second highest rate of Chlamydia of any age group.
- The most recent data available, in 2000, indicates the estimated direct medical costs for treating young people with sexually transmitted infections was $6.5 billion annually.
I know this a lot of information to digest and it’s overwhelming, but it’s out there. This is the reality. Now am I advocating that we all stop what we’re doing and force a small child to learn about Sex Education? No, not at all. I believe a child being introduced to the sex talk is totally up to that parent’s discretion; however, I do want to prevent anyone from having the awful, awkward, and insulting introduction I experienced. As uncomfortable it may be, it’s time. Now, let’s talk about sex, baby.