Abstinence shouldn't mean ignorance

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It is the job of schools to educate students, inform them. To guide them, but not to withhold facts.

It's up to students to determine what they do with that information once it's theirs.

Do we stop teaching chemistry because youth could use that knowledge to make methamphetamine? Do we stop teaching physics because that information could be used to build a bomb? Do we stop teaching English because well-read students might someday speak out against the things we favor?

Of course not.

So, do we not arm our children with the best information for protecting themselves against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases on the outside chance that they'll run out and have sex just because they were told it existed?

Of course not.

Our society is highly sexual and children are immersed from a young age. Video games, movies, rock videos -- even the Superbowl -- youth are saturated by sex.

Even the coordinated gyrations passed off as "dance" by high school cheerleading teams are sexually suggestive.

It would be foolish for us to think that a sex education class is a teen's first encounter with the concept of sex.

It would be just as foolish to believe that teens are going to abstain from sex just because their health teacher tells them it's a good idea.

That value is established only if it's reiterated at home.

Considering the rate of teen pregnancy and the life risks associated with unprotected sex, we should offer teens all the tools we can to make an educated and informed decision about sex.

All the better if that decision is value-based, but that job belongs to parents, not schools.

Though more and more parents are approaching their teens openly and honestly about sex, too many still believe that if they don't talk about it, their children won't do it.

Statistics show the fallacy in that theory.

Children as young as 11 are willing engaging in sexual activities -- and their bodies are encouraging them to do so.

How can we pretend that's not happening? How do we arm a teen against flaring hormones with nothing more than an "I said no?"

Since parents seem to be lagging in the the area of educating their children about sex, that job has passed on to schools. Taking the lead in that role, schools should embrace a curriculum that is not morals-based, but focuses on what schools are commissioned to do -- educate without bias.

Some parents and political groups will object.

That's fine. They have the option of excusing their child from those lessons. It is hoped that the others benefit by making informed choices. They may not always make the choices their parents want them to make, but at least they're armed with information.

Wanting children to do something and getting them to do it are two different things.

Sure, it's safer if children don't ever cross the street. It would be nice to keep them on the side that's familiar, the one that parents have scoped out in advance. But someday children are going to seek their own way and that's going to lead them across that street. Shouldn't they already know they're supposed to look both ways first?

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