Thursday, April 16, 2009
Blogs have been buzzing this week around doctor Perri Klass's article in the New York Times urging parents to talk to their sons about "respect" and, basically, that relationship violence and rape is bad.
It should be obvious to everyone that teenagers must be taught what "no" looks and sounds like (which, sometimes, is radio silence) but if they learn how to say "no" when the time comes, they also need to know when and how to say "yes."
Abstinence education only teaches one way to say "yes": within the context of heterosexual marriage. Since the vast majority of people have sex prior to marriage with someone to whom they are not later married, people figure out on their own how to say "yes" and a significant number of them, especially women, wind up having their "no" ignored, misinterpreted, or not heard over the din of the frat party and become victims of sexual assault.
Sex education is important to reduce unintended pregnancy and STIs, to be sure, but teaching teenagers that they have the right to to choose sex--to say "no" AND "yes"--is the most important lesson of all.