Articles From the February 1994 Unification News


Love, Sex and AIDS - Clearing Up the Confusion

by Paula Fujiwara - Newton, MA

In the midst of our crisis of teen pregnancy and STDs, many communities are involved in heated debate over how to educate children and teens about love, sex and AIDS. It is one of those controversial issues that "generates more heat than light." Perhaps you are concerned but anxious about taking a stand or becoming vocal because it's such a "can of worms." After all, mega-reams of information and curricula have been published on this issue. It's also one of the focal points of the cultural war that is raging. How can one get a "handle" on it all?

Well, be anxious no more. A "handle" on this issue is hot off the presses from the Center for Educational Media in Pearl River, New York. Their new publication, entitled "Love, Sex And Aids: Teaching our Children in the Age of AIDS" is a concise, readable and thoroughly documented 40-page booklet that sheds light on why so much heat is being generated around sexuality and AIDS-prevention education. According to the booklet's introduction, "a description of different approaches to AIDS and Sex Education is given with several examples of each. The intention is to give parents and educators a clearer picture of strategies being used and their results and underlying assumptions."

The first section of the booklet compares and contrasts the guiding assumptions of the two main approaches: comprehensive "safer sex" contraceptive-based versus premarital abstinence-based. The comparison includes their basis for sexual rights and responsibilities, primary educational goals, core values, parents' role and presentation of premarital abstinence. Unfortunately, the two approaches share little in common. (Thus, "heat" is generated by the friction between them.)

The following sections deal with the many other important questions that arise surrounding sex education. Some section headings include: "Does giving information lead to behavior change?", "Track record of condom distribution," "Sex education and cognitive development," "Can we teach abstinence?", "Is it true that all (or most) teens `are doing it'?", "The impact of teen sex on psychological health," "The track record of abstinence programs," and "Teens' communication with parents."

"Love, Sex And Aids" does not take a neutral stance about sex education but makes a strong case for the premarital abstinence-based "no mixed message" approach. However, this is not accomplished by omitting reference to studies done by advocates of the comprehensive approach (which include Planned Parenthood and Sex Information Education Council of the United States). On the contrary, study results reported in Planned Parenthood's `"Family Planning Perspectives" confirm the ineffectiveness of the comprehensive approach and the effectiveness of abstinence-based programs in impacting teen sexual values and behavior. "Love, Sex And Aids" is also packed with results from a wide range of current studies researching every aspect of this issue.

This booklet can more than adequately prepare you to discuss sex and AIDS education with anyone. It is a valuable tool for quickly informing members of your community who have decisions to make about sex and AIDS education. Come to think of it, that really includes us all.

"Love, Sex And Aids: Teaching our Children in the Age of AIDS" is available for $3.00 a copy plus 15% shipping ($1 minimum) from Center For Educational Media, P.O. Box 795, Pearl River, New York 10965.

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