Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Texas schools offer (mandatory?) classes in parenting and child care: does this fit the ideal of abstinence?


USA Today is reporting (Jan. 15 2008) that Texas schools will start teaching parenting skills to high school and middle school students. Some commentators say that this is because of the epidemic of “children having children.” The USA Today link is here.
The original Houston Chronicle report is by Jennifer Radcliffe (yes, the namesake of Harry Potter’s player), Jan. 14, 2008, “New School Year Brings New Class: Parenting”, link here.

The lessons will be taught by health teachers (presumably as part of health and physical education). Some questions come to mind to the novice. If school systems are supposed to discourage teenage sex (of any orientation) before kids are mature enough to make a living on their own (and promote the "Vatican" philosophy of "abstinence"), why make them learn parenting now? What kind of message does that send?

One reason could have to do with a deeper view of social policy. It could be viewed as desirable that everyone learn parenting and personal care skills. One never knows when one will be called upon to participate in this because of problems in a family beyond one’s control. It happens in the movies (“Raising Helen”). There are plenty of news reports of “children raising children,” of teens being “forced” to raise younger siblings because of family dysfunction or misfortune. The same message exists with eldercare. So the idea of “family responsibility,” even before sex, ought to be spread around.

Many school systems already teach child care skills in home economics classes or in “career center” classes. What gets problematical is when never-married subs find themselves in these classes.

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