It may be the most lopsided vote ever recorded in eight years of unofficial polling by the Caymanian Compass: Almost four-fifths of our respondents this week voted in support of schoolroom sex education.
In the wake of a public suggestion two weeks ago by 17-year-old Madeleine Rowell that sex education should play a more prominent role in the classroom, we asked readers: Should sex education be taught in Cayman’s schools?
The proposition gained overwhelming support from 507 of our 648 voters, or 78.3 percent, who agreed that, yes, sex education was a good thing. “Welcome to the 21st century,” was the vastly popular sentiment. Most commenters supported sex instruction in schools and mostly on the grounds of combating teen pregnancy, child abuse and disease.
Explicitly addressing school programs advocating abstinence, one voter suggested the attitude had little relevance to critical information.
“As much as we preach abstinence, kids are going to do what they want to do,” came the thought, “and we need to arm them with the information required for them to make the best choices. Teen pregnancy is too high on this Island.” “There are too many sexual predators on the prowl and sadly, in their own homes,” commented another respondent. ”From as early as possible, kids need to know what is right from wrong.”
The subject of sexually transmitted diseases also figured into “yes” votes: “The rates of HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean,” one said, makes “this really a no-brainer.”
One lengthy, if thoughtful, answer came from a respondent critical of abstinence-only programs as, frankly, unrealistic.
“It is not enough just to tell children to abstain from having sex until they are adults or married, and providing them with too little information is just as bad as giving them the wrong kind of information,” the voter wrote. “We need to accept that children and parents are not discussing sex at home. Most parents are uncomfortable with discussing this topic with their children, and because of this, youth are being left to their own assumptions and the seduction of the media.
“Children are having sex at any earlier age and the rates for teens getting and transmitting STDs are increasing. Studies have shown that when children are given comprehensive sex education in school, rates decrease for teens getting pregnant or contracting STDs.
“So why have we not yet jumped on this bandwagon?” came the question. “People are worried about providing children with too much information …I would much prefer my child to learn about sex from myself or a trained sex educator. Through sex education in schools, children will not only learn why they should abstain from sex until they are ready, but it also helps them avoid having children [of their own] before they are ready, and going through the emotional pitfalls that can come with sex at such a young age.”
The dismaying theme of “children having children” was echoed only half-in-jest by the final “yes” voter: “Accidents cause people,” one wrote. “Ignorance of the basic information leads to bad decisions and experimentation. Both of these lead to bad outcomes.”
Ranking second among the four choices was that sex education should be “only for older high-school students,” with 97 votes in this category, registering 15 percent of the total.
One commenter cited, “too many young girls in the road with short pants, almost naked.” While perhaps unfair at first blush, the comment nonetheless reflects a more-traditional dismay, often deemed “provocative,” at clothing choices sometimes made by young women.
Of the total, 36 votes, or 5.5 percent, opined “no,” sex education should not be taught in Cayman’s schools: “Some things should be left to the family.”
The vote drew two opposed answers, however, one conservatively, even Biblically-oriented, and the other outright cynical. “Jesus is crying,” offered the former, followed by the latter’s “what’s new to this generation about sex? They are all educated by the time they are 12 years old.”
Next week’s poll question:
Lawyers this week appealed the courtroom vindication of West Bay’s Tara Rivers. Is it justified?
- No. The initial decision was right. She is the best of her generation.
- Yes. The constitutional issues at stake must be resolved.
- The Court of Appeal will decide.
- Stop. Can we please move on?
To participate, visit www.cayCompass.com