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We've got a great deal of concern over the sex education of children. And as you know this is a subject of a good bit of national interest national debate. One of the debates as to whether or not this is something for the home of the school to do. The research that's been done in the area indicates that the main sex educators in this society is neither the home nor the school. Most of the sex information at least that young people get seems to come primarily from their peer group and experience. And so it's really in a sense a debate as to which group is going to do it. If we don't do it the peer group is going to do it and they start pretty young. WBA presents birth control today. Freedom and responsibility. This is a series of programs about birth control and how it affects us and our society. Today we look into the why and how of sex education.
In all the skirmishes about sex education today the emotional arguments of nearly drowned out the rational ones. Today we have as our guest experts in the field of sex education from the health and safety section of produce Department of Physical Education for man they are Dr. Harold Winkler head of the section. Dr. Roger C. Hafer and Dr. John Safran professor of health education the first question I'd like to ask Dr. Venter is what is the aim of a sex education program in the schools. I'm glad you used the word program day because the program suggests something beyond simply one course or one experience. This means that there is planning that there is continuity and more than just one experience in a program. The schools have the objective of helping each individual to understand himself. And as a sexual being and use this knowledge in a responsible manner. I think that the schools have a complementary role to work with parents and others in the community to help the individual to achieve this objective. John can you give us some idea about why sex education in the schools has been under
such as suffer as attacks for the last few years. Well I think in part because of many hearsay type stories that for one reason or another seem to always come about regarding any instruction or classroom experience and experience regarding human sexuality along with this then in the last few years various minority groups have spent much of their time lamb blasting and criticizing sex education and I think this is generated a lot of suspicion on the part of the general lay public. I've heard the expression the latency period used in arguments regarding when children should be educated in these areas. What does this mean. Well I think this comes back from some of the early psychoanalytic theory that Freud developed and there's no question as to his contributions but sometimes even he made mistakes and I think that modern psychology psychiatry is
pretty well accepted the fact that this was in error and yet socially publicly this kind of a fallacy is slow to die and we seem to hold onto it maybe for the purpose of reinforcing our idea that ignorance or silence is a conspiracy of silence as it's been called is the best way for us to grow up and to receive their sex education so I think it's a supportive measure that many of us are holding on to in order to avoid the real issue was simply that of giving proper sex education to children. I would add relative to the latency that the whole concept has to fall down in our modern society because if the student is not titillated in the classroom regarding his sexual being in his sexual questions he certainly is in other ways such as popular literature movie marquees television and advertising. So there's really no way a child today can spend his childhood devoid
of any sexual experiences or sex education. I think John makes a really good point there. It's not a question of whether or not an individual youngster is going to receive sex education. He is I think the real issue here is the quality of sex such as sex education and holding back. Or the only partial supplying of information or allowing that information to be imparted by mass media or something like this I think is particularly unfortunate because we find that by the time elementary school is over for example that the individual the youngster has pretty well made up his mind or at least put together some kind of a concept. Where babies come from for example something about intercourse and these kinds of things. And we're inclined to think of inclusion of such material at junior high and maybe even senior high and we're getting to them just too late and this is been a very common criticism of sex education programs for
youth. Doctor thank you and your opening comment you talked about the the role or the part of sex education in the total curriculum and the obligations of parents and community what can concerned parents and educators and do to help establish and preserve sex education in spite of opposition. Well certainly parents have some prerogatives in this area which they should exercise and they have of course a primary responsibility for all of the welfare of their youngsters in regard to human sexuality and sex education I would think that parents need to become informed they need to get the facts and act on the basis of facts rather than on the basis of emotionalism. There are certain problems in every community that need to be studied and to find out what's being done about them what resources were utilizing in the process of educating. People about sexuality I might observe here that particular point that we view sex education as a process and not just simply as a subject to be taught and certainly with this the school and the community have some definite relationships to be developed in
effecting this important process. Roger you mentioned that there's no doubt about the fact that a youngster is going to get the sex education the question as a matter of quality. And in talking about a sex education curriculum or a program can you start to enlighten us about what is taught in sex education courses and how programs vary. Well it's probably easier to respond to the latter question how do they vary or should they vary. And. If there's any inference that can be made about programs it is with that variability namely that each program has to be designed to fit the particular population or community with which that program is supposed to to deal. Some schools some school systems have a kind of a child that is ready for some things that another is not and here's where the real expert piece of the teacher comes into the picture when he can pick out that level of development of the children that he is working with and then meet
their particular needs. What is taught. Well it depends upon what level and it depends upon the child that you have sitting in front of you. I would comment here regarding what is taught and perhaps when it is taught and this is something that in my experiences I found people tend to be very uptight about well just what are you going to teach my child that let's say kindergarten and the middle is kindergarten too early. I think not if you're thinking in the most general sense relative to sex education certainly it's it is premature at that time to talk about some of the involved things regarding let's say physiology of sexual intercourse. But it's not too early for five or six year old young child to begin to understand for instance such basic concepts as all living things come from other living things. This is seems or smacks of being very asexual but these kinds of sub concepts as we call them are important to understand early in their development so that they
understand the more complicated and complex concepts later on. I think maybe the point you were making here is that we need to formalize sex education somewhere along the way of sex education is occurring whether we like it or not and the question becomes one of whether we want to have constructive positive education or whether we want to have negative education by default. And certainly very young children are being educated in their attitudes and their perceptions of what is happening about them. So we need perhaps at this time of kindergarten to begin with some very basic concepts of self of boys and girls living together family roles plays in the family things of this kind which are certainly basic to some of the more advanced concepts which John referred to. I don't want to push a difficult question I can see why it would be difficult but can we go into greater depth into what is taught in sex education courses. I realize that they are going to vary a lot. One other thing that's on my mind Roger you
said that it depends on the locale which makes we wonder about the value of federal input in curriculum and materials. But what are some of the things that are being taught. Well I think from me from the beginning there is some. At the elementary level is this where you want to focus on an understanding of what human sexuality is. That we are sexual beings that we procreate by. Sexual techniques but that there is more to human sex and sexuality than just reproduction and having babies. And that along with the sexual out the responsibilities are included. One of the responsibilities of the individual to himself as a sexual being to others is his sexuality an isolated thing or are there other concerns. Does it operate within a social context or environment. So it's more than just blood and bones anatomy
physiology this kind of thing. But it is one of responsibility and maturity. Things along these lines to follow up with what Rogers stated I think a very important part of accepting oneself as a sexual being is to understand oneself in the growth and development. Certainly the physical growth of the child has social maturity his emotional development all of these things are part of the sexual being. As he grows and develops then he should be learning about himself. Certainly as he leads toward maturation physically when he enters into Bess and into adolescence there are questions and problems which will arise in his mind and he needs to be educated for these to be ready for these things to occur so that he can act intelligently at these times. So certainly we need to teach some of these basic things not only physically but also in the social and emotional realm. I think after Dave there is one thing that we can indicate as far as what is not taught which is. The source of fear perhaps on the part of many parents and adults and that has
to do with sexual techniques or the techniques of intercourse something along these lines in other words we get the idea that sex education is reproduction how do we reproduce when it's by sexual methods. Therefore we must teach techniques and if there is one thing that is not taught specifically it is the techniques of intercourse how babies are made. Yes that the sperm must unite with an ovum. Yes but the techniques themselves are yet to see the program where anything along this line is covered. I have to ask why. Oh I think because this is something that is decided at. In adulthood with maturity and it is up to the individual This is a personal decision and it is not something that is I don't see where the school itself can make a positive contribution to the individual to his maturity to his sexuality by the coverage of this particular topic. I think further beyond this is a point that we tried to develop our health education curricula to meet the needs and the particular competent ability to comprehend to understand
which Roger mentioned earlier. Certainly these for the child what we think of a person as a child is a person who has not yet achieved maturity physically or physiologically that this person is not concerned with these things he does not have particular needs or interests along these lines and is not geared or equipped to understand these things and consequently then what we teach will not include just this kind of content but it would be geared to the particular problems that he faces at this time. He will face immediately thereafter. I have heard criticism of sex education programs based on the belief that knowledge of greater sexual knowledge will lead to experimentation of promiscuous behavior is this valid. This this is. Very funny a very strange misconception because we have driver education in the school and we don't assume that the the consumer is going to go out now and have an accident we have physical education we don't assume that the individual is now going to abuse his body.
We have consumer education we don't believe that the individual is not going to spend his money foolishly and yet when we say we're going to have sex education then we are automatically assuming that now he's going to go out and abuse his sexuality or become promiscuous now we won't be able to get into the permit promiscuity thing but. Whether it has changed or it has and let me just say very briefly that the statistically promiscuity rates have not changed over the past few decades. We do have several indices however which indicate that improper sex education or misinformation in other words that kind of a sex education background of the individual has to develop on his own or from partial or non credible sources. Does it yield some unfavorable results for example if we look at their VD rates. 60 percent of those that contracted VD in a New York study didn't know how they got it or why they got it. Illegitimacy the high rate of ignorance here as far as birth control devices are concerned divorce rates I think are a reflection of our
inability to accept their own sexuality. Deviant behavior if there's any common characteristic it's ignorance of human sexuality even the simple physiological function. These kinds of fears about sex and sex education I think are unfounded. There is no increase in experimentation promiscuity as far as we know. I would go back to the aim of sex education in the name of Allah education which is certainly to help the individual to intelligently direct his behavior to make some intelligent choices. Being Inform doesn't going to guarantee the personal follow a certain mode of behavior but it does permit him to make choices according to his ethical and moral values what he believes. Certainly the with only a partial kind of education is more apt to be promiscuity than there is with complete education. And this is why we are concerned with sex education as a process which goes long over a longer period of time rather than any kind of a
crisis education or piecemeal type of way of dealing with it. I would just add in cooperation of what both of you have said that it's appalling to me to use to see to see and observe and talk with with youngsters who are so unbelievably unaware and ignorant of things regarding their own personal sexuality and yet may be quite astute or clever in mathematics social science or language or some other area of the school curriculum. It's high time we really face what problems do these young people face. What questions do they have that need to be answered. And when individual contracts have an area of disease or for instance a person graduates from school and gets married and decides to have a large family. You see he's making a very important decision and I feel that the degree to which he makes this decision with out any knowledge of the possible consequences of this large family for instance as regards world population.
It's a tragedy and we've missed the target a little earlier in discussing what is taught in the sex education courses Dr. Vinocur you talked about maturity levels of individuals. And I wonder if. If maturity and morality. Can be can be related or if there is a point at which you can teach sexual sexual morality and if so how. I'm not so sure that we would find some direct relationship between age and morality although ality is related to behavior probably at any age. In answer your question. Morality is and of course Ethics is learned by the young child pretty much in his home here parents have certain prerogatives to develop in their children their religious believes their level of morality their concern and acceptance of other individuals. But there are some
values some ethics which are common to our Western civilization our western culture which we call social codes. Certainly these are quite common to people of various beliefs. So with recognition of these it would be safe to say that we could go on and educate children about their sexual being without violating the individual beliefs of. Different groups different social groups in our culture. While this is a prerogative of the home I think we can recognize the differences in social beliefs without unduly influencing the child away from his his home spun beliefs are the cultural mores just identified as historical facts or are they are they taught as examples of ideal behavior. How is it handled. I would like to comment here and I think this is a terribly important point to many people comment on. Are fearful and I say all well will jump on the Swedish bandwagon we're going to
bring Sweden's sex education program over and install it and these United States. Far be that from the case. We need to operate and within our ethic if we can identify such a thing. And I think that it's interesting in my own teaching experience is that students are very interested we'll just what does our society ask of us. We have said many times that adolescence one of the reasons that period in life is so difficult is because they really aren't quite sure what is expected of them their roles are not really well defined. And if we can help them. See for themselves what expectations are placed upon them. What limits and guidelines they may set for themselves and what others tend to be said by other parents and by their religions. I think that they will be more apt to make decisions that will help them to become fulfilled persons. I think this would have to be one of the most difficult areas to handle because I think just how
very different attitudes are. In my my parents generation my own attitudes my own sexual standards and attitudes are so different and I'm sure those of my children will be from my own I think that this would be a difficult thing to treat in any more than a very general manner. It has been my experience and in discussing with students and also with the clergy and other educators that as long as we are careful to be fair to all concerned that we need not be leery of discussing all of the various ethics what does this given church recommand. Why does this particular cultural group how do they behave and so forth. The. The youth in my best judgment are saying don't make the decision for us but help us to make a correct decision. Let us
look at all of the various attitudes in this very moralistic society in which we live and then let us choose our own course but with the facts well in hand and certainly to understand himself. The youngster has to understand others would be well formed to understand what the various social values the various ethics are so that then he can better understand himself and understand others because of certain he's going to live in a world where he's going to be living with other kinds of people with other kinds of believes. And so if he's going to understand himself which is and to be responded to in a responsible way then he has to know something about the various ethical values and that other people hold on this issue it looks like we're getting right back to what you said Dr. Vinocur very early in the program about the community and the parents playing a role in this in this whole program. Yes we have to recognize that there are different groups who hold varying value systems in various
beliefs about religion and other ethic. And certainly they can cooperate together because there are there's enough commonality of belief about what is good in our culture. And certainly this would. Undergird our efforts to bring all of the parts of the community together into any responsible program which recognizes the individuality and yet his responsibility his responsibility in a social order. We might for a specific example look at the Australian program Family Life program where they do justice to bring in of community resources because their sex education program starts with children at the very earliest elementary grade levels. But believe it or not the first course is for the parents. The parents come in and then after the first semester or whatever it happens to be then when we first meet with the children this kind of thing and I think this is maybe something that we could take another look at this kind of inclusion of the community the parents or the community be parents church or what have you been
crucial of them with into the school sex education program and to support that Roger I think I would. You say that this is important because of the need for the school and the community to work together in a Responsible Curriculum planning the schools curriculum planning is the recent professional responsibility of the school faculty. Certainly they can get great assistance and important help from the constructive suggestions of parents in the school district and in fact that I think the opposite is also true that the parents can benefit greatly because much of the resistance to a school program or indeed much of the difficulty with proper sex education of the children lies at the doorstep of the parent themselves being uninformed fearful of the pop IC. I think that the function of the school could be very helpful in this way that it helps the parent to help his children. Yes as we begin to cooperate and work together between the home and school we also begin to communicate better to understand and as we understand them we come up with better programmes and in the end help the youngsters
the children who are the ones who are the objects of this kind of a programme. As I look back on my own experience of sex education in public schools I attended they certainly didn't bring parents in as part of the program but they did something else that stood out in my mind they separated the boys from the girls is this still common. And this is been a traditional arrangement in some of our classes nesses been. For reasons other than perhaps in education objectives for separating the boys and girls in health education classes this is more of a traditional and probably a convenience arrangement and arrangement which accommodates best educational effect. Now the youngsters say little boys and girls should be together we live together we are going to live together as adults. This is a heterosexual world we want to be educated together in this area just as we are in science and in social science in math and elsewhere in the curriculum. So the boys and girls see it as education in a quite occasional manner.
As educators What do you fellas think about this. Well I agree with Dr. Ivanka there when we're young you know it's perfectly all right a little boy falls down a girl fall down at the you know the little boy or girl put his arm around him or her and comforts her that's all right as we get older I guess that pretty much hands off situation. We grow farther and farther apart then until maturity we are out at opposite ends almost never get married. Let's get married and live happily ever after. So I my opinion is that I would be in favor of co-educational instruction. But now there may be some topics I would like that where perhaps they might be handled separately for the sake of the children themselves for example menstruation. If it is a situation this is something a teacher has to decide perhaps where the girls are going to be sure from about asking the questions that are really on their mind maybe a little embarrassed about it or seminal emotions on the part of the boys. Or maybe there will be instances where it is best to handle them and separate the visions but in general I am very much in favor of the co-educational approach.
I would like to add just one thing I would agree completely that ideally it would be done in a co-educational way all the way through one school experiences. But we keep coming back to one very central theme relative to the curriculum and sex education or in health education or anything else for that matter that we need to examine who is doing the teaching. Who are our students where do we live. What are our cultural beliefs and what are our aspirations and so forth so it should be a local problem that local educators in conjunction with parents and others decide throughout the discussion we've placed a lot of responsibility on the teacher making decisions evaluating situations how are teachers selected for sex education programs. Will how they are selected in the way that they should be selected maybe two quite different things. I think perhaps. The programs to date the teachers are selected because of the teach in a particular area and then most of the education admittedly has been done at the secondary level rather than the
elementary school. I would say that the teacher ought to have certain qualities. Personally that the teaching which are conducive to acceptance of the role should have professional preparation and the ability to present these things without being embarrassed to talk realistically and matter of fact with youngsters and to meet their needs in their interest. This is been birth control today. Freedom and responsibility. The next programme in this series will discuss when birth control fails. Today's guests were Dr. Harold head of the Health and Safety Division of the produce department of physical education for man and Dr Roger S. hater and DR JOHN SAFRAN professors of health education at Purdue. The series is written and produced by Colleen Gary and narrated by Dave Bondy recording engineer as Morris announcer Roger priest. The series is presented through the instructional radio division of WBA at Purdue University in West Lafayette Indiana.
Birth control today
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The How and Why of Sex Education
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