As every parent knows, or one day will know, there comes a time in a child's development when he discovers his sexuality. Hopefully, when that discovery happens, his parents will help him to understand the physiological and emotional changes taking place and guide him or her along a path of morality and virtue. Too often, it appears, parents either fail to adequately fulfill these vital responsibilities, or are prevented from doing so by the intervention of some 'sovereign' authority. Worse, the child might learn by personal experience on the street and from his peers. We see the consequences of inadequate and inappropriate 'sex education' in abortion statistics, crime rates, school dropout figures and the increasing corruption of what might be termed 'good social values.'
In the fourth year of his reign, Pope John Paul II published a document that he directed “To the Episcopate, to the Clergy and to the Faithful of the Whole Catholic Church” in which he wrote:
In the above words, the ruler of the Catholic Church clearly iterates the inescapable obligation and the inalienable right of parents to educate their children concerning social virtues. He further made it clear that the parental role in a child's education takes precedence over the educational role of others and cannot be either usurped or entirely delegated to others.
It bears noting that there are situations in which it may be a physical or mental impossibility for parents to carry out their responsibilities in this regard and necessity will compel reliance on third parties to provide the required education.
I was born in 1937 and grew up in a time of incredible social upheaval. America was still struggling with the effects of the Great Depression, but getting back on her feet thanks to President Roosevelt's New Deal program. I was four years old when World War II began; old enough to miss having my mother at home, but too young to understand why she went to work in a war plant instead of staying home with my younger sisters and me.
When the war started, America's population was about 133.5 million. Of that number, 16,353.700 eventually were enrolled in our Armed Forces. As many as 12% of all Americans were in uniform during the war, but who were they? They were, for the most part, young men, though women also served. Were it not for the war, these young men likely would have followed in the footsteps of their fathers and gone to work in farms, offices, factories and such, while the young women would have gone into the fields traditionally considered 'women's work;' primarily as mothers and homemakers, but also as shop clerks, secretaries, school teachers, etc.
The war changed all that. War consumes materiel faster than wildfire can swallow a great forest. The cost of America's approximately 45-month involvement in that war on two fronts amounted to some 288 billion dollars. Converted to 2007 dollars, that comes to about $3,301,449,624,453 or nearly $24,000 for every man, woman and child in the nation. That much money buys a lot of stuff, but who was making the stuff in all the new or converted war plants that were running at capacity? Our young men were at war, so women left their homes and traditional jobs and Rosie the Riveter was born. These jobs paid well; well enough that working mothers could hire full-time babysitters to watch over their kids, as my mother did. We were well looked after, but I don't recall the babysitter ever taught us anything, much less the facts of life.
When the war ended and our warriors returned home, not all the women were willing to return to the old ways and or give up their jobs. My mother continued to work, but as soon as my sisters were old enough to enter kindergarten, she let school be our babysitter. At vacation time, we were on our own, as were almost all the kids I knew.
The 1950's are called the Decade of Innocence. It was a time of poodle skirts and crinolines, 'The Look,' sweater sets, saddle oxfords and “no kissing on the first date.” Tailor-made suits and trousers with baggy knees and very small cuffs, Mr. B shirts, ¼” belts. There were hayrides, high school dances on Saturday night, brass bands playing in the parks and slumber parties. Only jazz musicians used dope, men removed headgear in street cars, elevators and restaurants, dads waited up for their daughters and most boys and girls graduated high school with their virginity intact. How could this be, in a generation raised virtually on its own?
I believe the 1950's were that way because God was welcome in our schools and workplaces. When I was in public school, we started our school days with the pledge of allegiance and had religious training – individualized for Catholics and non-Catholics, and with allowances for Jewish kids to attend Hebrew school once a week. In music classes, we often sang old Gospel songs and hymns. Attending a special worship service was considered a legitimate reason for missing school. We studied Mediterranean religions in History and Social Studies and were taught why so many great civilizations came out of Mesopotamia. Everyone knew that God hardened Pharaoh's heart as part of His program to deliver His Chosen People from slavery. We saw Passion Plays at Eastertide and in December we had Christmas plays and decorations. We were taught in public school the reason why God lowered Himself to live as a man among men and why He had to do it if we were to be saved. And school administrators took very seriously the biblical admonition to: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)
That's not all of it, of course, and America in the 1950's certainly was not Utopia but it was a happier time in many ways.
Somewhere along the way from the Decade of Innocence to modern times, America's parents seem to have lost interest in teaching their kids about sex. Perhaps they no longer believed it necessary that they teach what was now being taught in public schools. I was in the eighth grade when boys and girls were separated one afternoon so that we might be educated on our sexuality. That education consisted principally of lessons on animal, including human, biology and the development of the human fetus through the various stages of growth from tadpole through gilled fish to lizard to a real baby. In that class, no one spoke to us about our sexuality. It was, I suppose, an embarrassing subject best handled between parents and children. Except parents, at least my parents and those of my friends, didn't talk to their kids about this taboo subject.
We learned on our own. In those days before pornographic magazines were on open display on store shelves; before nudity and simulated sexual acts were on display in movie theaters and in our home television sets, we mostly learned by listening to what other kids said they had done or heard or seen. And we had Mickey Spillane's books for reference. Sometimes we learned by trial and error in the back seat of a car parked in the rear row of a drive-in theater.
Look how far we have come from the 1950s, when a girl would be so embarrassed by being told that her slip was showing beneath the hem of her skirt that she would leave a party. Today, we have become so desensitized to sexual displays in movies, television, rock concerts and magazines that we are not even shocked when breakfast cereal manufacturers or clothing retailers advertise on TV using pre-adolescent children in sexually-tinted innuendo to promote their products.
We leave the teaching of morality and human sexuality in the hands of public school teachers. Educators and social movers have used the legislative process to make sex education the responsibility of the schools, relegating parents to the position of relatively unimportant auxiliaries. Granted, history seems to provide irrefutable evidence that parents haven't been doing terribly well in this area.
What are our kids taught in school sex education classes? From what I learn in conversations with my grandchildren, they are taught a lot of things that I, for one, do not consider proper. For example, school kids are given a strong, explicit message that there is nothing wrong with being sexually attracted to persons of one's own gender; that there is nothing unusual about a child having two mothers or two fathers. What they are taught in school is re-enforced in daytime television programming intended for children and young adults.
In all fairness, it should be mentioned that teaching on the technical aspects and mechanics of human sexuality generally is accompanied by discussions of the possible unpleasant consequences of random sexual activity. Kids learn a little bit about sexually transmitted diseases and unexpected parenthood. And they are taught how to deal with unwanted pregnancies and what their rights are when it comes to terminating such pregnancies.
On the positive side, small kids are warned about sexual predators and how they work. This is good. They also are warned to be suspicious of their parents and given a telephone number to call is they think their parents have abused them sexually, physically or emotionally.
I am not aware that schools are teaching our children on the morality of sex.
If public schools are not providing a moral foundation for the sexual development of America's children, and parents seem uninterested in doing so, how are our kids to learn morality? I find myself to be in complete accord with the publicly proclaimed position of the Roman Catholic Church, as expressed below and in other official pronouncements:
Right is right and, on this issue of parental responsibility, Rome has it right. How unfortunate that the same Romish cult doesn't act to protect children from the predations of her priests and religious. The word I'm looking for here is "hypocrisy." The Roman cult, her doctrine, practices and religious leadership are little more than modern adaptaions of the ancient Babylonian Mystery Religion. Their god is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their high priest is the deceiver - not the Logos.
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