Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Down Memory Lane - 1

I finally had a classroom of my own, after being an assistant teacher for 1 1/2 years.  It was a 6th grade, which, at the time, was still in the elementary school.  One of the subjects we were to teach was sex education.  The curriculum was set out, but we were told that, at the end of each lesson, it would be good to have an open question and answer time.  So, I bravely followed the first lesson and, at the end of the lesson asked for any questions.

One girl raised her hand and said she had a question.  It was, "Was my mama a whore?"

I was completely unprepared for that kind of question.  The particulars of the reproductive system I could address, but I wasn't even sure if I was allowed to use the word "whore" in school.  But, it was obvious, also, that this was an extremely brave and urgent question, so it needed an answer.  Thinking as quickly as I could, I said that the first thing we needed to know was the definition of a whore.  I said that it usually meant that a woman was having sex for pay. 

She said that her mother was 13 years old when she was born.

Again, completely taken aback, I tried to put a neutral (and not shocked) face on.  I told her that, at that age, she was so young that she almost certainly wasn't having sex for pay, so that she almost certainly wasn't a "whore".

What I should have said, but didn't, since it wasn't part of the nomenclature then, was that at the age of 12, when she got pregnant, her mother would not have been able to give informed consent to sex.  If the boy who fathered her was much older, he should not have had sex with her.  If the boy was about her age, both of them should have had better supervision and information about sexual activities.

All in all, I think I handled the question OK and the girl seemed VERY relieved to think that her mother wasn't actually a "whore".  My guess is that kids were teasing her about her mother and perhaps also about her "bastard" status.

Now, back to the current day.  This question has informed my opinion that we need full and complete sex education, beginning even before children start puberty.  Sex education needs to include not just the nuts and bolts of the reproductive system, but also the emotional and social aspects of sex.  Perhaps 5th and 6th graders don't need explicit instruction in contraception, but they should at least be told that there are ways to prevent pregnancy and if they think they might need it, they should ask the school nurse. 

No comments:

Post a Comment