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Is this appropriate? (sex education)

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rebelconservative
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I do not find sexual education objectionable. I do not find diagrams objectionable. Every mainstream encyclopedia I could find besides Wikipedia had diagrams, and there are diagrams for a reason.
I think the reason diagrams are more appropriate is the "distance" they maintain, while (hopefully) still getting the point across. Since sex is something in which a human being can participate, I think there is a point at which a depiction (take your example of a real nude person masturbating in the classroom) moves the observer into a role of participant. I did not watch the video on those Wiki pages, only saw the still images, so I don't have a specific judgement about those, but I do understand where you're coming from (i.e. the dimension/aspect that you find objectionable).

Not sure if you saw the original video that started this thread, but the snippet was all cartoon.

With that said, I do not think that a kid would suffer some type of major psychological damage if they were to be occasionally exposed to some video like that. I don't have your experience with hundreds of children, and can only use my own (now 12) to make this concrete. I'm certain he would not suffer psychological damage if he saw adults copulating. It would be different if these experiences were more routine, or if he was somehow more of a participant. I have found that his reactions have changed over time, from disinterest, to revulsion (have sex with someone is like peeing into them), to a mix of pretend revulsion and curiosity. I've always let his reactions inform me of his readiness for learning, in any area, including sexuality. Of course, his reactions are not the sole criteria, but they are an important one. I think Montessori's approach of judging readiness for material works very well. As I say, this is only my experience with one child.

I do know that when I was growing up, we routinely (once a year) had animals copulating right outside our house, and we all knew what they were doing. Never a big deal. I also remember chancing on sexual acts: like a guy masturbating in a public park, and more. I know it did not psychological damage, and question whether it really could.

Mindy has a point about some people being overly obsessed with teaching kids the mechanical aspects of sex. However, I don't think this is routine. Most school teachers I've encountered (our son has been in private and public schools) are not hippie-like. They seem to be a cross-section of my neighbors, and I would likely think them more prudish than I am, on average. Where we live, sex education only starts in earnest in 7th grade. Before that it is so occasional as not to be of any importance.

While many people in today's culture take sex too casually, when I look around, I also see too many people whose major psychological hangup about sex is that they think of it as some type of dirty secret. (Mid-west state showing up here perhaps.) I think it is important not to steer kids into that latter attitude, just as much as it is to steer them away from the former. I see this as a major aspect of "sex-education" done right.

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I do know that when I was growing up, we routinely (once a year) had animals copulating right outside our house, and we all knew what they were doing.

I grew up on a ranch, so I saw animals copulating every year lots. I knew what was going on. I knew how sex worked mechanically when I was 7, and I knew my parents had done it. With that in mind:

I also remember chancing on sexual acts: like a guy masturbating in a public park, and more. I know it did not psychological damage, and question whether it really could.

It's perfectly reasonable to know that something would not psychologically damage yourself, or the charges under your care. That's what you're there for. I understand that this is most likely not exactly what you are saying, but I think it's important to state that it's unreasonable to expect that if something did not cause psychological damage to you, then it will most likely not cause the same for others. Unless, for some reason, you have reason to believe you are representative of the majority, which truly is impossible. The same applies to me, I can't expect that simply because something very similar happened to me and my reaction was very traumatic (which it did, and was, for quite a while), that everyone will react the same way. Where *I'm* working from, and honestly this is not perfect, only anecdotal, is that from what I've observed of many adults and children is that that type of experience, and these types of materials in this context, may not 'harm' long term often but definitely disturb many individuals with the risk of more serious harm, not just a small minority. Every single parent I've asked in my local area (and I asked quite a canvas since I brought this up as an issue at my local library board of trustees) agreed with me that not only did they find this access in government institutions disturbing, but if their children were to fall upon it (say being silly like an early middle schooler looks up bad words in the dictionary) that their children would be disturbed as well. It's the context truly, the context of the government institution, and the context of educational material. Was I exposed to pornography (Playboy) by the age of 12? Yes. Was it a video? Did it involve actual sex? No. Was it posing as serious educational material? No. Was it shocking, and made me a participant like say, a guy in a park? No. So you're right in that sense. If we're going to use ourselves as standards of acceptance, then if in my youth I had been exposed to those types of materials as part of allegedly serious educational materials I would have found it disturbing... so I rest my case. ;-)

My concern is the *risk* of serious harm to children by institutions that can't handle them individually like a parent can. I don't find that risk acceptable. Remove the institution, remove the educational context, and you're left with 'the rest of life'. That's outside of my concern. My concern is *not* that a child may ever see any of this ever (how many children alone accidentally walk in on their parents in a year?)

Edited by asherwolf
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... if in my youth I had been exposed to those types of materials as part of allegedly serious educational materials I would have found it disturbing...
"Disturbing" is different from "psychologically damaging". Are you saying that if you had watched that video as a kid you would have been psychologically damaged in some way that mattered to you today? If so how? I'm not sure I know what concrete referents in reality we're talking about here, when we speak of "psychological damage". To me, it must at least mean an impact that changes one's behavior materially and persistently.
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"Disturbing" is different from "psychologically damaging". Are you saying that if you had watched that video as a kid you would have been psychologically damaged in some way that mattered to you today? If so how? I'm not sure I know what concrete referents in reality we're talking about here, when we speak of "psychological damage". To me, it must at least mean an impact that changes one's behavior materially and persistently.

Disturbance can lead to trauma. When I speak of 'psychological damage', I'm speaking of trauma. Trauma can heal, it can be reversed, it doesn't last forever. However, it doesn't have to be risked in places that should be safe for our children (schools, and youth sections at libraries). If I had watched that video in that context as a kid I would have found it very distressing, it doesn't have to make sense to you (and I'm afraid it won't) so distressing to the point that I'd have trouble trusting sources or people I thought were there to protect me. It would be as distressing to me as if I had found a man masturbating in the park, only the difference is that I found it looking through something as benign as the encyclopedia.

If we want to make 'psychological damage' reach a higher threshold, I still deal with trust issues a decade (plus) later, one factor of which (but not only the factor) was an incident of happening upon something as a boy myself. I wish that had never happened to me, but unfortunately it did, and it has stuck with me. To me that psychological damage enough, seemingly being unable to shake it.

Unfortunately I can't put it better than that. If you believe this could never truly psychologically damage anyone, which you haven't outright said, then that's what you'll believe... I won't be able to convince you.

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...I would have found it very distressing, it doesn't have to make sense to you (and I'm afraid it won't) so distressing to the point that I'd have trouble trusting sources or people I thought were there to protect me. It would be as distressing to me as if I had found a man masturbating in the park,...
I don't doubt this, I just find it hard to relate because no concretes come to mind. It is not just that I've never personally felt a sense of distress at seeing the odd nutcase masturbating in a park (and some other similar stuff too). It is also that when I think back to my childhood buddies, I cannot think of any who would have been that distressed. I can definitely think of a few who would have thought it was a big deal, who might have wanted to report it and so on; but, I cannot imagine them feeling psychological distress, only moral outrage. The typical reaction would be "that's gross" or "that's interesting".

.If you believe this could never truly psychologically damage anyone, which you haven't outright said, then that's what you'll believe... I won't be able to convince you.
No, if you say it would have caused you distress, I believe you. I don't discuss it to deny that, but to understand it. Emotions are not causeless: there are always some core evaluations underlying them, so I was merely trying to understand it better. I figure the topic is exhausted at this point.
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