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Would you be upset if your school did this survey?

Moms View Message Board: The Kitchen Table (Debating Board): Would you be upset if your school did this survey?
By Colette on Thursday, May 26, 2005 - 03:27 pm:

Sorry, I don't know how to make a clickable link.

By Happynerdmom on Thursday, May 26, 2005 - 04:05 pm:

I wouldn't be upset if it were for high school students, but it would upset me to have my 11 or 12-year-old take it.

By Frasersmama on Thursday, May 26, 2005 - 04:24 pm:

I would like to read the whole survey to get a better picture of what is being asked. My sense is that with growing indications that kids are sexually active younger and younger, perhaps the school is trying to gauge whether their sexual education program is hitting the mark. Waiting until high school to educate about sex is often like closing the barn door after the cows are gone.

I agree that 11 is young to ask how many oral sex partners have you had, and that perhaps it is a bit of a leading question. I have worked a fair amount with young people as a sexual health educator, and I think most parents would be very surprised to find out how much their kids talk about and engage in sexual activity. I would be surprised if in today's society most 11 and 12 year olds aren't already aware of the concept of oral sex.

I would be concerned about the way that question (It is the only one that I am aware of) is phrased. If an 11 year old hasn't engaged in this type of sexual activity (and most haven't), the way it is worded as "how many partners have you had" might give them the impression that most of their peers have done it. This might lead them to engange in this behaviour just to "keep up". Again, I would like to know more, but I would still say there is probably a lot of value in the survey.
As usual, I am very long-winded, but this is a topic very close to my heart.

By Trina~moderator on Thursday, May 26, 2005 - 07:14 pm:

Wow. Mixed feelings here, but I tend to agree with the Dad in the article. Parental permission should be acquired before kids take this survey. There are a lot of different personal and religious views on this topic and parents should have a say in what their kids are exposed to.

By Kaye on Thursday, May 26, 2005 - 11:16 pm:

I would be livid. I know my daughter has probably heard this terms, and honestly I have chosen not to speak with her yet. She is 11. We have mentioned sex, but not in detail. She is just starting to brush her hair, she hasn't really gotten into boys. So I just would be so offended if her first "talk" was via a survey. And for people who think well then you need to have the talk earlier...well that isn't the schools decision, it should be mine. If she is raised in a sheltered environment and I have succeeded in keeping her then, then good for me! I think on one hand as a society we want our children to be children longer, but on the other hand we are so excited to see them grow up, that we forget that although many children are choosing adult activites just as many are still playing with their barbies and sleep with a stuffed animal.

If they want to know how their sex ed is going, give a quiz to the jrs and seniors, ask about when they started, how many partners in general, get a feel for how it worked from them, don't guinea pig on my baby!

By Colette on Friday, May 27, 2005 - 08:48 am:

I would be livid as well. As it stands now, the kids have to have a signed permission slip to attend sex ed. I think parental permission should be required to take this survey.

By Kay on Friday, May 27, 2005 - 03:41 pm:

Considering that here in my Texas community we have had 11-year-olds give birth in our local hospital...teens who don't think you can get STDs from oral sex because it's not 'sex'...something has to be done, because the education is obviously not all being taken care of at home!

What should the rules be and where do we draw the line? No matter what the answers are, we all pay the consequences.

By Karen~moderator on Friday, May 27, 2005 - 05:13 pm:

I firmly believe in sex education, BUT I also firmly believe in parental consent for any type of survey or class.

Kay is right though - kids are having sex younger and younger, and obviously in many cases, the education was NOT taken care of at home.

And the sad thing is that it's the kids, and the babies they are having, who are paying the price.

By Eve on Friday, May 27, 2005 - 05:28 pm:

When I was in Jr High close to 20 years ago we took an anonymous test asking if we were sexually active, if our friends were, if we had tried drugs, if we smoked or drank alcohol. (It was in health class)I see nothing wrong with giving kids this type of survery. I was in school a long time ago and kids were using drugs and having sex! I can't imagine how fast things are moving these days. If you have not talked to your 11 and 12 year old (Especially girls!! They are the ones doing the giving!) about oral sex, then I think you better get moving! There seems to be an epidemic with kids not believing oral sex is actually sex.

Having your child take this survery, doesn't mean they won't or aren't sexually active. I see nothing wrong with it. I would not be offended if it were given to my DD at that age considering how young kids are becoming sexually active.

Does this same Dad disagree with sex eduacation is school as well? Proper use of a condom? We did all of that 20 years ago too!

By Annie2 on Friday, May 27, 2005 - 06:56 pm:

I agree that the survey could be an effective tool to finds out what areas the kids are concerned about and need more guidance.
However, I strongly agree that parental consent should be mandatory , for this age group, before the child is able to take the survey.

By Amecmom on Friday, May 27, 2005 - 07:04 pm:

I think this survey is a violation of the innocence of childhood. At 12 I was still giggling over kisses. I had no clue what oral sex was ...
I think it opens up questions that children should not be concerned with at that age.

I have always been an advocate of public education, but from what I see happening morally and socially I think I'm sending my kids to a convent! (Not really, but somewhere I won't have to worry about them being exposed to things they shouldn't from an authority).

By Ginny~moderator on Friday, May 27, 2005 - 07:05 pm:

Kay, Karen and Eve raise good points. Kids are engaging in sexual activity at younger and younger ages these days. (I blame, for one thing, the whole media thing that puts out sluts and hotties as heroes to teens and pre-teens - and the parents who go along with it.)

I don't know about the survey. I'd have to see the whole thing. But a lot of studies do show that kids at awfully young ages are engaging in sexual activity, and frankly, the teaching that is taking place today - at home and in school - isn't helping.

I watched a show recently about the absitence-only movement. Now, I am very much in favor of abstinence for young people. But a lot of people who preach abstinence only (like the Silver Ring program) are not teaching about condoms or if they are, are preaching that condoms don't work well and so you shouldn't count on them. The program also presented a man who is part of a program studying sexual activity in young people and the success/failure rate of programs like the abstinence only programs. He noted that (a) while abstinence only programs often persuade young people to postpone sexual activity, very often when they engage in sexual activity they do it without condoms because they don't think they work and don't know how to use them - which means that the risk of STDs and pregnancy have only been postponed. He also pointed out that studies have shown that a lot of young people who have, for example, taken the "pledge" and the Silver Ring, are engaging in oral sex or even anal sex, believing that it is not really sex - and there has been an increase in STDs contracted through oral sex.

I still have mixed feelings about a study with a question that graphic for 11-12 year olds - but to some extent it depends on which school population, and whether it is in a community that has seen an increase in youth diagnosis of STDs and youth pregnancies. I don't think the article is particularly helpful simply because it only focuses on one question, which may have been the most potentially objectionable question, and doesn't talk about who sponsored the study, why it was done, what will be done with the results, and a lot of other information.

By Kay on Friday, May 27, 2005 - 10:54 pm:

Although I agree that it is essential for children to learn sex education in an age/level appropriate manner, I'm not sure a survey is going to accomplish much more than to affirm what most of us already know - that a lot of kids are engaging in sexual activity at a MUCH earlier age than we ever imagined.

When I taught high school over 20 years ago, a sex survey was given....not surprisingly, a lot of kids blatantly lied (even less activity or more activity) in order to either 'impress' their friends with a joke, or hide what they were doing.

Unfortunately, the 'innocence of childhood' has changed dramatically, and to protect our children, we have to change our approach to educating our children, based on what's around them.

I would like nothing more than to imagine 11 and 12 year olds giggling over 'who likes who this week'. But that's just not realistic in this time - and if we can't change the world around us, we CAN change how we adapt our teaching of our children in order to save their lives.

By Jann on Saturday, May 28, 2005 - 09:02 am:

Ginny, my children take an abstinence program in our church every year. It is so much more than 'don't have sex'. They spend a tremendous amount of time talking about why it's easier to not have sex, going into great and graphic detail about all the STD's out there, not just Aids. Also defining what sex is and how it's not just intercourse and how STD's can be transmitted orally too. They give the kids the tools and the reasons why it's better and frankly just easier (you don't have to worry about dissease, pregnancy, death, reputation ect) to wait until marriage. They also give the kids the tools to avoid getting in compromsing situations and how to handle them if they do. I am not saying that all the kids taking the course wait till marriage, but I can pretty much guarrantee that they have no illusions about the dangers involved in unprotected sex.

By Ginny~moderator on Saturday, May 28, 2005 - 09:24 am:

Jann, I thoroughly approve of abstinence for young people. And I agree, if abstinence only teaching is done like the program you describe, it has a much better chance of being effective. Giving the kids the tools, especially about compromising situations, is very important.

I remember, when I started menstruation, my mom gave me a book from the Museum of Science & Industry, she gave me a book called "Being Born", which gave the clinical details of how one gets pregnant. That same year, while I was babysitting, I "found" a book on the parents' bedtable about sex, a sort of "sex aid", I suppose. At the age I was then, I understood the mechanics pretty well, but my only thought was "why on earth would people do that when it looks so ridiculous?". I wish my mom had talked with me about the emotional and social stuff that gets one into "doing that" - I'd have been much better prepared. Knowing "why" a person can get caught in situations that lead to sex is as important, and maybe more important, than knowing the mechanics.

I also think, Jann, that programs taught in churches, like the one you describe, are more likely to be effective than the ones I saw in the program. The Silver Ring program, for example, is a program which receives large federal funding, and does things like rallies and tent meetings, huge numbers of teens coming to a program with music, entertainment, fast talking, and pitches to prompt them to make public pledges. But something like that is here today, gone tomorrow. A program in the church you attend regularly, with the support of your parents and the parents of your peers and of the church community, is much better to my mind. I have mixed feelings about school programs, because so much depends on the mindset of the teacher. One teacher I saw on the program was very unhappy that she was NOT allowed to talk about condoms, even if a student asked about them in class or privately, other than to say that they have a failure rate, and she felt that she was failing her students by having to follow those restrictions.

My problem with many of the abstinence only programs funded by tax dollars (which is not the case, I am fairly sure, with the program your church runs) is that they are just that - abstinence only - with apparently no recognition that if a teen does decide to or gets caught up in a situation where they do have sex, the teen and society as a whole would be much better off if that teen had accurate information about disease and pregnancy prevention by means other than abstinence.

By Jann on Saturday, May 28, 2005 - 10:41 am:

I don't know anything specific about the government programs and, I had that same idea about abstinence programs too, that it was 'just don't do it cause God said not to'. I worry tremendously about the 'what if'? I know that God will forgive you for making a mistake but unprotected sex can kill you, so I am so very glad that this program talks about ALL of the risks.
It's kind of ironic that a church would teach all the aspects of abstinence, and the government just teaches 'just say no'.

here's one of the speakers that we used.
another was this most incredible woman and I am totally drawing a blank on her name. She was amazing. I know she speaks in both public schools and churches cause she would talk about how in the public schools she couldn't talk about God. She laid out the facts on STD's really strongly.

By Kay on Saturday, May 28, 2005 - 05:52 pm:

Did you hear Marilyn Morris speak? She started Aim For Success, and she came to our school - she was excellent!

By Jann on Saturday, May 28, 2005 - 06:29 pm:

No, one year it was a gentleman about 40, this year it was a young man about 25. They were both incredible.

By Kay on Saturday, May 28, 2005 - 06:51 pm:

I think Marilyn spoke when it was a new program for our school,then they've had others, including men/women of various ages. A lot may depend on the location of the school/speakers. I think Aim's home offices are in Dallas.

By Cocoabutter on Sunday, May 29, 2005 - 04:02 pm:

Haven't read responses and I am going to avoid posting my opinion until I get a chance to read more info on it. But, while doing the research on it, I Googled "Shrewsbury sex survey" and got a link to a Boston radio station that did a story on it and they had a link to the actual survey!

By Dawnk777 on Sunday, May 29, 2005 - 08:10 pm:

There were only three questions about sex, in the whole survey. It seemed to be far more about drug use. I'm pretty sure I know how my 13yo dd would answer each question!

By Marcia on Sunday, May 29, 2005 - 09:43 pm:

After reading the whole survey,and realizing that there were only a few sex questions, (nothing on oral sex, btw) I would have no problem letting my 12 year old answer it. Like Dawn, I know how she'd answer it at this point.

By Ginny~moderator on Monday, May 30, 2005 - 07:57 am:

I did a google and found a blog at the newspaper that originally published this story with an explanation by a school official. It seems from this that there were, indeed, some questions about oral sex. It also appears that the survey was administered to the entire middle school, with a wide age range.

If I had to guess, I would guess that questions about oral sex were added because some teachers or other school personnel had learned or at least believed they had good reason to think this (oral sex) was something some of the students were doing and the school system wanted to learn if this could be an issue they should be trying to address.

One question I'd have is just how honestly a bunch of teens and pre-teens would answer such a survey, done in school, and how many would treat it as a joke.

By Karen~moderator on Monday, May 30, 2005 - 09:03 am:

Just thought I'd throw this in - from what I have learned from my kids and their friends over the years, young children - ages 10 - 13 or so - are having plenty of oral sex because, (A) they know they can't get pregnant that way, (B) they are labeled *cool*, thus increasing their *popularity*, or (C) they are doing it to hold on to a *boyfriend* or *girlfriend*. The huge issue, aside from the morality issue is that oral sex does not guarantee that you won't contract an STD!

I find it incredibly frightening. I realize I'm taking this thread a bit offtopic, but the REAL issues are that no matter *how* a child is educated about sex, oral or otherwise, it needs to be done sooner rather than later, for their own protection, if nothing else.

By Marcia on Monday, May 30, 2005 - 10:20 am:

Karen, I agree. Also, they need to learn it from an adult at an early age, before their friends start telling them. My 12 year old is still very young and naive, as are her friends. The problem is, she's hearing incorrect info from kids at school, and I want her to know the right info from me, first!! She makes me nervous because she is beautiful and has the body of a woman already, but the mind of a younger girl. I don't want her to be taken advantage of. Luckily she's VERY strong willed, and this all grosses her out right now.

By Reds9298 on Monday, May 30, 2005 - 10:36 pm:

Ditto Karen! It is appalling to us but the fact of the matter is that fifth and sixth graders *are* engaging in oral sex, and on a regular basis. I have done lots of work with and around kids this age and I just can't believe my ears most of the time. I ditto everything you said.

By Reds9298 on Monday, May 30, 2005 - 10:37 pm:

I would want to be notified and give permission for my child to take the survey so *I* can prepare her for what she's going to read.

By Dawnk777 on Monday, May 30, 2005 - 11:38 pm:

Both of my kids are pretty grossed out by the thought of oral sex. My 13yo, anything to do with sex makes her want to change the subject.

By Cocoabutter on Thursday, June 2, 2005 - 01:35 am:

Haven't had time to get to the computer cuz dh is on vacation and when we're not running errands, he is on the puter!

I only did a little more research and found a blog by a Boston columnist named Meredith O'Brien. She was in email contact with the assistant superintendent of the Shrewsbury school. As Ginny said, the school districts were free to edit the survey. The survey I posted the link to was the original federal survey which was modified by the Shrewsbury School Department to include questions on oral sex. Mrs. O'Brien does a thorough job of relating the contents of her emails.

It's easy to say that parents should be the persons to discuss these topics with their children, but the reality is that too many parents DON'T BOTHER. Either they are too busy or they are too scared. Not to say all parents, just too many. So what's a kid to do?

I had the sex talk with my son when he was 6. Hey, he asked questions, and I gave him straight factual answers framed in the context of a marital commitment with the woman he was sure he wanted to spend the rest of his life with and that sex is the purest form of affection. I can only reinforce that principle and hope that that part sticks as he reaches adulthood.

We have also had the drug talk. He came home from playing at his friend's house and I asked him what they did.

"Oh, we put mini M&M's in a pill bottle and pretended they were drugs and we were running from the cops!"

OKAY! Time to get some things straight, here! "Here's your brain, and here's your brain on drugs." And we role played with me being the drug pusher/friend and him turning me down flat.

We have also had the suicide talk. He asked me one day, "Is suicide when you kill yourself?"

I said "yes, and people who try to kill themselves need help. They feel like they don't matter and the world would be better off without them. Do you ever feel that way?"

He said, "No, I know you love me."

They grow up way too quickly these days, and everything surrounding them in the media is amorally driven. So, no offense to any other parents but as far as I am concerned, if an 11 year-old child doesn't know what oral sex is, it's time inform him/her. You can't shelter them forever.

As for the survey, parents should be able to view the quiz (at least online) and parental permission should be required prior to delivering it in a classroom.

A bit off topic, but I find it ironic that a teen has to have a parent's signature to get a driver's license and to take a pill at school, but in some states, a minor girl can get an abortion without even telling her parents never mind getting their permission. So, where's the parental outrage there?

By Reds9298 on Friday, June 3, 2005 - 10:24 pm:

Cocoabutter - AMEN! Ditto.

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