"Readers up in arms over sex education"
This has generated a decent storm on their website, after publishing a story about a father removing his child from sex education at school over material he thought was inappropriate. The public have responded fiercely, with the NZ Herald saying "More than 70 per cent of 13,550 Herald readers in an online poll said it was inappropriate for 12-year-olds to be learning in class about oral sex."
Yet again, a misinformed public getting upset over poor journalism and sensationalism; thus I will not give it too much thought. The interesting part to it was the follow up story that added fuel to the flame about a girl that is now pregnant under the headline "I learned all about it in class." What a load of shit! Anyone that reads the article will see that she said "I didn't wind up pregnant because I didn't attend a class […] It was purely the fact that I was drunk, it was New Year's, and some older male thought it would be fabulous to take advantage of me." The headline is highly misleading since her personal story had nothing to do with sex education, hence being misinformation added to the topic. To support the case for sex education, she even added "I believed upon the facts and myths of someone older than me claiming the withdrawal method worked."
It seems that there is no regard for the importance of safe sex and the onus of consent. While it is inevitable that girls and boys will inevitably want to touch the other's (or same's) genitals, the requirement of consent I cannot stress enough is important. The difference between yes or no is the difference between rape and consensual sex, even at 14, it is the difference between underage sex and a charge of rape. The importance of safe sex and differentiating myths and playground rumors from facts is also crucial, the message of condoms and contraceptives should only be stronger if this girl is an example that people can still be influenced away from sensible decisions.
The follow up story looks at the case in more detail, saying "Her opinion contradicts the international research," or in other words, trusting the opinion of a young teenager over extensive research the world over. It examines interesting cases where a teacher apparently made orgasm noises and other peculiar incidents. None of them particularly harmful, nor are they curriculum, nor appropriate; but it seems enough to want New Zealand Herald readers to criticize the sex education program. The ERO report (parents' best friend, not the teacher or the school) says that at age 12, the topic is the human body, with actual sex education coming at a later age - something I can back up as a student of this system. Our school did not do the part of "applying condoms to plastic penises" until Year 10, or age 14-15, which is age appropriate. Remember, the legal age of consent is 16 in New Zealand, while many countries it is younger. We certainly would rather do this sooner rather than later, better safe sex than sorry with STDs and AIDS.
While parents will be shocked by the idea their teenagers may be having sexual relations and the conservative puritans may be shocked anyone is having sex, the key here is to minimize the risk as much as possible. Abstinence does not work, look at any figures from the United States, where schools that preach abstinence over safe sex have more issues than the rest. The humanitarian work going on in places with high birth rates are working desperately to push a safe sex message to minimize health risks, hampered by the abstinence messages.
These days, sexual relationships and activity is quite normal amongst teenagers, and most have the brains and the information equipped to make rational decisions. Another case where New Zealanders do not teach young people to make rational decisions, prevent them from taking any risk, and cotton wool their kids so they hit reality too hard when they are adults. Again, this is another case where parents are blaming society for their kids turning out funny, where they have failed their jobs as parents and used society as a dumping ground to raise their kids for them. The time a child spends with their parents is far more than they spend at school, thus if they would like to see their child see things differently, the responsibility is theirs to teach their children. Education needs to be concentrating on young people making calculated risks, rational decisions, and thinking independently. As for the parents, they need to be educated to take the New Zealand Herald less seriously...