Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What's the Big Secret?

It doesn't seem to be much of a secret that many parents have a problem with what is being taught to their children in schools, especially that dreaded sex-education classroom. This is no exception in Oak Harbor where a mom became quite upset after viewing a book entitled What's the Big Secret that her daughter brought home from school. These are the Headlines

An article on covered the story:
"I can't even stand that she had already read this without me even knowing," said Jennifer Swedeoson. 
Swedeoson had planned to have "the birds and the bees" talk with her 10-year-old daughter Kaleigh when she reached middle school. But that timeline changed when Kaleigh brought the book home from school yesterday. 
"I start flipping through, this is all right, but then it starts talking more about sex and I get into it and it's completely too graphic for her."
Really?  Waiting until middle school might be great for you, but it seems that your child will probably already have heard a lot of information and misinformation by that point in time.  I heard about and knew about sex in grade 5.   The article on quoted assistant superintendent Lance Gibbon, who noted that "that fifth grade is when students in Washington state begin sex-ed classes."  Okay, so I'm not totally off my rocker, then.  Which makes me wonder why parents are so afraid of their children hearing about sex in a classroom or a reputable book from a school library.  Isn't this better than getting the information from classmates or random internet sources?  At least this book seems to be a good way of bringing up certain topics that can then be discussed in a home environment.
"This book been on the shelves for 10 years, at five different elementary schools," Gibbon said. "That's 2,500 students a year. That's a lot of kids that had opportunity and a lot of parents to give their input on it. This is the first time there's been any question about it." 
He said plenty of people research the material before it is put on the school library shelves. 
"All of our books are reviewed by staff for age appropriateness, look at outside reviewers, their ratings, and quality of materials," Gibbon said.
I know sex can be a sensitive topic, so don't go thinking that I'm telling you that kids should learn about sex as soon as possible and in any way possible.  I think that getting information is a good thing, though, especially from reputable sources.  And while schools are not perfect by any means, a classroom is at least a safer place to get information about sex than the internet (in many cases) or from classmates.  

I think in this day and age it's hard to keep kids away from information until a certain expected timeframe. Life doesn't ever go by our own timeframes, so isn't it at least a good thing that this child brought the book home where her mother could discuss it in detail with her?  Sure it's not the middle school conversation it "should" have been--at least according to the girl's mother--but at least it's happening at home and in the open rather than behind closed door through inadvisable means and sources.

If you're interested here are links to the Publisher's Weekly review and the School Library Journal's review (a little way down the page) along with a short article about sex-ed.

Thanks for listening.

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