KANSAS CITY, KS, February 5, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Should thirteen-year-old children be learning about cuddling, sexual intercourse, and masturbation? According to one school, with the blessing of the federal Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), the answer is “yes.”
Several weeks ago, the 13-year old daughter of Mark Ellis showed him a picture of a poster with 17 different ways “people express their sexual feelings.” The pictures ran the gamut, from “holding hands” to “anal sex” and “touching each other's genitals.”
The Shawnee School District originally tried to defend the poster, which was hung at Hocker Middle School. A spokesperson reportedly said the poster is intended to promote abstinence, and “is meant to be part of a lesson.” Shortly afterward, however, Superintendent Dr. Jim Hinson took the poster down. He says he was unaware of it, as it was approved by the district's curriculum committee, and “[found] that language offensive.”
Kansas City-Saint Joseph Bishop Robert Finn also leveled criticism at the school for the poster, saying, “It is hard to imagine that the proposal of such graphic and exploitative activities are part of the formal education of 12 and 13 year olds.”
Finn contrasted the public school's decision to have the poster with Catholic education, which he says exists “to support parents in their determination and responsibility to form their children in a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ, as full members of the Church; to be apostles who act out of love for Christ, and who, alive in the joy of the Gospel, are reaching toward salvation.”
The poster is part of a sexual education course from HHS that is published by SelectMedia.org. The HHS program is entitled “Making a Difference.” The program is divided into eight one-hour modules, with Module 2 aimed to help students understand “adolescent sexuality and abstinence.” The module “provides an overview of reproductive anatomy, discusses messages about sex, discusses how people express themselves sexually, and the benefits of abstinence,” according to the program.
SelectMedia.org says the “Making a Difference” curriculum also teaches “positive attitudes and beliefs regarding abstinence, abstinence negotiation skills, and [gives young people] confidence in their ability to abstain from sex.” The curriculum “is based on cognitive behavioral theories, focus groups, and the researchers' extensive experience working with youth,” and “is an adaptation of the original 'Be Proud! Be Responsible!' curriculum in that it integrates STD, HIV, and pregnancy prevention,” the publisher's website states.
According to HHS, the study upon which the “Making a Difference” program is based was done in Philadelphia in 1998, with 11 to 13-year-old black children. It received a “high” rating from the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH), which is the federal agency under HHS involved with the poster. The results, according to OAH, were significant for those “who were sexually inexperienced.” Those teenagers were found to be better at resisting sex than their sexually experienced counterparts in follow-up surveys three, six, and twelve months after taking the program.
In fact, the study did not find “statistically significant program impacts” for those who were “sexually experienced” during the instructional period. It also failed to find “statistically significant program impacts on frequency of sexual intercourse, condom use, or unprotected sexual intercourse.”
The OAH estimates that “47.4 percent of high school students have had sexual intercourse, and nearly 15.3 percent report having had four or more partners during their lives.”
“In 2011, nearly 40 percent of sexually active high school students had not used a condom during their last sexual intercourse,” the OAH states.
Not all parents are as concerned as Ellis, who said he planned to pull his daughter from the school if the sexual education curriculum was not changed. One student at Hocker and her mother say the poster is not offensive, with the daughter saying children have “been knowing these things since, maybe, the age of 10.” The mother, Jennifer, says the poster is nothing compared to what she sees on social media.
LifeSiteNews reached out to Ellis and the OAH for comment, but neither had returned phone messages before press time. LifeSiteNews was also unable to reach Hocker Middle School by press time.