I lived in Utah at the time and when she was found and I, along with much of the world I imagine, wondered- "why didn't she just run away from her captures? She had so many opportunities and she was so close to home."
Utah has a high Conservative Christian population and I believe still teaches Abstinence-only sex education in schools. I myself am Christian... however, I, like Elizabeth Smart, have developed strong feelings about abstinence-only education due to the unfortunate fact that I myself am proof of the statistics listed below and personally know the dangers abstinence only education can put a young woman in. And it is even more important to me now that I have children of my own.
Elizabeth Smart says it best:
"“I remember in school one time, I had a teacher who was talking about abstinence and she said, ‘Imagine you’re a stick of gum. When you engage in sex, that’s like getting chewed. And if you do that lots of times, you’re going to become an old piece of gum, and who is going to want you after that?’ Well, that’s terrible. No one should ever say that. But for me, I thought,
My beef with this analogy is that this message usually falls harder on girls:
If one person is the gum, the other person chews. This is a VICTIM based analogy. The same goes for all of the other “tips” that put the pressure on the victim to prevent rape. "When we teach teenagers to dress modestly, abstain from alcohol and certainly never engage in sex, we’re not actually helping them prevent rape—but we are telling them that when they are victimized, they are partially to blame." - Amanda Hess, Slate.com
Current statistics on sexual abuse and rape are staggering and these statistics should emphasize the importance of proper sex education to children and teenagers:
In my opinion proper sex education should teach:
You are ALWAYS of worth no matter what happens, and no matter what you decide. Teaching this is essential to protecting not only their bodies- but their sense of worth and their self esteem. I've personally witnessed and gone through the horrible depression you can experience once you lose your self worth and self esteem.
Sex is not "one person chewing and one person being chewed". It is and always should be mutual and equal.
-Your body is YOURS and YOURS ALONE. Children need to learn that they have permission to fight back, and that requires them to know that they are of worth and that they have value EVEN AFTER the attack. NO MATTER WHAT.
And most importantly- Sex education should start as young as possible and should go hand in hand with teachings of empowerment, value, worth, and respect. Children need to learn that sex is not a bad thing. It is not worth shaming. It is a topic that needs to be discussed and they need to feel comfortable enough to talk to you about it.
So, I'd like to know... what are your feelings on the matter? Do you believe in abstinence-only education? Do you believe that it is a topic that should be taught at home and/or in school? Personally, I have mixed feelings on the matter that are rather complicated- to lengthy to discuss here. But I'm curious as to what you think and how you all teach it to your children.
CLICK HERE TO READ MY ARTICLE ON TEACHING AND PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM PORNOGRAPHY