A decline in teenage pregnancy in Ontario of married adolescents has been more than offset by a three per cent rise in the unmarried adolescent pregnancy rate, and an eight per cent increase in abortion among the unmarried. These facts were contained in a report submitted to the Ontario government in 1986 (latest figures available) by two independent Ontario researchers, Orton and Rosenblatt.
Statistics like these are no advertisement for the practical success of Ontario’s sex education programme, charged Louis Di Rocco, a public school teacher and Policy Director of the Family Coalition Party (FCP), in a presentation to the Select Committee on Education of the Ontario Legislature, in July.
Mr. Di Rocco’s Brief repeated some well known facts which, however, he said, continue to be ignored by many sex education plans:
– Certain recommended birth control methods carry serious health risks, especially for young girls. The earlier young girls start sexual activity and the more partners they have, he stated, the greater the risk of getting cancer of the cervix.
– The I.U.D., which is still recommended in spite of the numerous lawsuits in Canada and the U.S., may cause pelvic, inflammatory disease, which can lead to sterility and even cause death.
– The Pill makes girls more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases (STD) as well as depression.
– Teenagers on the Pill risk interference with normal growth and the possibility of never developing regular periods.
– Any sex education programme that breaks down a young person’s natural modesty or desensitizes children to the spiritual quality of human sexuality is self-defeating.
– Premature and amoral instruction in sexuality can deform a child’s moral or psychological development.
“The so-called ‘morally neutral stance, the Brief pointed out, condones and encourages sexual activity. The message to young people is clear. We can’t or won’t tell you what is right or wrong. Here, take these facts and your feelings and make the best decisions you can.” Thus, Di Rocco stated, teenagers get pregnant or get STD, not in spite of sex education but because of it.
In battling smoking or drugs, Di Rocco reminded the committee members, we don’t advise teenagers to practice safe smoking by using filters, or tell drug users to go easy. We tell them not to smoke or do drugs because it is harmful to their health. We make a moral judgment. HE said the same policy should prevail with sexuality. Irresponsible sexual activity is unhealthy, physically and morally.
Sex education, the Brief asserted, should remain the primary responsibility and right of the parents. There is a vast difference between teaching about the miracle of birth or where we come from, or the development of the human being in the womb, on the one hand, and teaching the intimacies of sexual intercourse and male/female relationships in a group classroom situation on the other.
Mr. Di Rocco readily acknowledged that there was room to assist parents to become better educators and communicators with their children. However, the intimate aspects of sexuality, he said, should be taught only on an individual basis and preferably within the family.
In many schools the materials are very explicit and are taught very early. Premature sex instruction that sexually arouses children could be considered a form of child abuse, he said.
The F.C.P. Brief also warned against any sex programme that seduced children by over-exposure to sexual activity or taught “over-tolerance” for perversions or that promoted promiscuity under the guise of being neutral.
The Brief quotes Dr. Melvin Anchell, a noted American psychiatrist, as writing that “typical sex education courses are almost perfect recipes for producing personality problems and even perversions later in life…Sex courses break down the students’ mental barriers of shame, disgust and morality, which are the obvious solutions. “Chastity or abstinence” is discounted or given lip service at best.