Article published in the March 29, 2012, issue of The Verge, the weekly arts and entertainment section of The Daily Eastern News.
When it comes to the birds and the bees, there are many tales of how people first heard about sex, be it through an awkward sit-down with the parents or a risky Google search.
These days, it is not as common for parents to discuss with their children what happens when a mommy and daddy love each other very much.
This is because most kids are watching their TV shows on their computers, not in the living room with the whole family, where moments on sit-coms can bring about conversations about sex, according to Misty Baker, a family and consumer sciences professor.
Misty Rhoads, a health studies professor, agrees; she said the majority of people tell her they never even had a sex talk with their parents.
As for herself, she said her mother handed her a book on frogs mating and hoped that would do the job when she hit puberty.
Most people hear about the dirty deed through their friends’ stories and the media, which are spewing with misinformation, according to Baker.
“Sex is portrayed in a fun and irresponsible way (in the media),” Baker said.
Some of Rhoads’ research on sex myths proves just how unreliable Internet sources are for sex education. People believe big shoes equal a big penis, a woman’s shoe size divided in half determines how deep her vagina is, Mountain Dew kills sperm, green M&Ms increase libido. . . The list of ridiculousness goes on.
But not everyone who lacked a festive sex talk on the brink of puberty was left in the dark.
Jordan Dekker, a sophomore art major, said her first glimpse into sex education was in fifth grade during an informational movie with her class.
“It was like turning a light bulb on,” Dekker said.
Erich Moorman, a senior kinesiology and sports studies major, said he first heard about sex in seventh grade when there were rumors going around school that one guy was having sex with his girlfriend.
He said the information he gathered started to fall into place the more he heard stories, and even more so once he got a girlfriend.
“So that’s what my dick is for!” Moorman said regarding his first relationship.
Nikki Isaacs, the supervisor for Java Beanery & Bakery, on the other hand, said she had the ideal sex talk experience. Her parents talked to her when she was about 18 years old and were open and honest about the subject.
“My family is very open about it,” Isaacs said. “They told us we need to be smart, not like, ‘Never do it or you’ll die.’”
Dekker said the parents who do decide to have a sex talk with their kids are usually too late for the discussion.
Moorman agrees. He said his dad threatened to “rip (his) junk off” if he ever disrespected a girl. Of course, the talk was about two years after he had started having sex.
Baker said this is because parents “have their blinders on” and do not want to believe their kids are having sex.
Parents are uncomfortable and embarrassed about it, Rhoads said. They want the school to talk to their kids, and want the school to tell them to simply not have sex.
“Abstinence-only education obviously didn’t work,” Rhoads said.
One thing is certain: sex education is seriously lacking. Baker said a few years ago when she visited her doctor, he mentioned seeing a 9-year-old girl, pregnant, who was keeping the baby and claiming to be in a consensual relationship with her 13-year-old boyfriend.
“I hope when this generation has children, they remember how it is to be young and will give their kids information, not rely on someone else to give it,” Rhoads said.