‘Useless’ and ‘harmful:’ New York’s sex education for children decried by Vatican newspaper
VATICAN CITY, Rome September 1, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - An editorial in the Vatican’s official newspaper has lambasted the decision of New York’s Department of Education (DOE) to mandate sex education for children, grades 6 through high school.
“It is not clear why public institutions in the West continue to have such magical trust in the effectiveness of sex education,” said Lucetta Scaraffia, the author of the editorial in L’Osservatore Romano.
When the results of sex education prove again-and-again to be “disastrous, you pretend not to know it,” Scaraffia said. “It is much easier to ignore the problem, pretend to resolve it with useless, and even harmful, school courses, rather than address the issue which underlies it.”
The core problem, said Scaraffia, is the “resounding failed utopia of the sexual revolution and subsequent breakdown of the first institution of moral education, the family.”
In an August 9th letter to New York school principals, Chancellor Dennis Walcott said that he believes that the school system has an “important role to play with regard to educating our children about sex and the potential consequences of engaging in risky behaviour.”
“We must be committed to ensuring that both middle school and high school students are exposed to this valuable information so they can learn to keep themselves safe before, and when, they decide to have sex.”
The city’s sex education curriculum is part of a $127.5 million effort called The Young Men’s Initiative, funded in part by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of Bloomberg Philanthropies and billionaire George Soros of the Open Society Foundations, to “tackle the broad disparities slowing the advancement of black and Latino young men.”
“We want all New Yorkers, in all communities, to succeed. To make that a reality, we must face some very sobering facts about who is succeeding and who is not,” said mayor Bloomberg in his January 2010 State of the City address.
“So today, our question is: How can we connect black and Latino young people—especially young men—to the opportunities and support that can lead them to success and allow them to participate in our recovery?”
Part of the city’s answer to the mayor’s question includes promoting contraception and abortion to the youth.
“The City’s clinics, in particular, must be places that teens feel comfortable entering, with practitioners who bring an expertise in serving this population. The City should also explore means to ease the process by which young people can access the Family Benefit Planning Program, which will enable young people to access confidential sexual health services,” stated the Report to the Mayor from the Chairs of the Yount Men’s Initiative.
Scaraffia argues, however, that current research does not at all support the city’s proposed sex-ed strategy, pointing out that after years of mandatory school courses in the UK that focused primarily on contraceptive methods, boys and girls continue to have early sexual intercourse without any kind of “protection,” and that the number of pregnancies and abortions among adolescents has multiplied.
“By now, it is clear that to avoid these tragedies it is not enough to explain to them how they can use contraceptives, and where to easily find them.”
“The problem is further upstream,” she said, “in the family.”
Instead of throwing condoms at the kids as the primary defence against their “passions and mistakes,” Scaraffia believes that young people should be taught that sexual life is a “test to be faced with preparation and seriousness” and therefore it must be connected to “life’s fundamental choices like marriage.”
Sexual relations are much more than some kind of “pleasurable exercise” to be practiced in an unbridled and risk-free way, she said, but a “meaningful proof” of one’s human and spiritual maturity.
New York’s DOE has yet to unveil its official sex education curriculum. For the time, it is recommending that schools use the existing curriculums HealthSmart for younger children and Reducing the Risk for older children.