Dear Commons Community,
A New York Times article describes the growing popularity of online sex education services directed mostly to teenagers. It establishes the need for these programs as:
“Sex education is a thorny subject for most school systems… Shrinking budgets and competing academic subjects have helped push it down as a curriculum priority. In reaction, some health organizations and school districts are developing Web sites and texting services as cost-effective ways to reach adolescents in the one classroom where absenteeism is never a problem: the Internet.“
The article provides an example of a young woman using the service while in a science class:
“.. Stephanie Cisneros, a Denver-area high school junior, was arguing with a friend about ways that sexually transmitted diseases might be passed along.
Ms. Cisneros knew she could resolve the dispute in class — but not by raising her hand. While her biology teacher lectured about fruit flies, Ms. Cisneros hid her phone underneath her lab table and typed a message to ICYC ICYC (In Case You’re Curious), a text-chat program run by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.
Soon, her phone buzzed. “There are some STDs you can get from kissing but they are spread more easily during sex,” the reply read. “You can get a STD from oral sex. You should use a condom whenever you have sex.”
Ms. Cisneros said she liked ICYC for its immediacy and confidentiality. “You can ask a random question about sex and you don’t feel it was stupid,” said Ms. Cisneros, now a senior. “Even if it was, they can’t judge you because they don’t know it’s you. And it’s too gross to ask my parents.”
The article goes on to discuss the concern that “some parents fear that sex education will encourage a child to experiment”. Elizabeth Schroeder, executive director of Answer, a national sex education organization says that the opposite is true and it is important to make sure that Web-surfing teenagers find these sex education programs rather than the pornographic sites that proliferate on the Web.
Good advice and better safe than sorry!