What Parents Should Know About the University of Minnesota Casual Sex Study

Some say the world has flipped on its side, leaving parents in a quandary. Long gone are the sugar-coated days of Ozzie and Harriet and their well-separated twin beds. No such sweetening of reality for today’s young people. No, sir. Now such comedies as Two and a Half Men portray casual sex as an entertaining end-goal, and ads extol the benefits of Viagra and KY Intense.

Meanwhile, “adults” can simply head to Craigslist, click on “Casual Encounters,” make a few promises, like being at least eighteen, and then connect with some stranger. No more complicated than seeking a used crib or laptop. The message nowadays is clear: nothing is taboo anymore.

It’s been an uphill battle for parents and schools for some time now, and the forecast doesn’t look promising. Despite pleas to abstain, make commitments, be responsible, and appreciate the risks-unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and HIV/AIDS–our kids continue to engage in oral and casual sex at ever younger ages. Our all-encompassing media makes no-strings-attached-sex seem so appealing. Face it: nowadays, enjoying “friends with benefits” is no longer out of the ordinary.

Previous studies, such as the one out of England’s Dunham University last year, confirmed what many of us have been thinking, and that’s that there is an emotional downside to the one-night stand. Indeed, while 80% of the surveyed men in this instance reported positive feelings afterward, only 54% of the women said so, reporting that they regretted having been “used.”

Yet now comes word out of the University of Minnesota’s Project EAT (Eating Among Teens) suggesting that young adults engaging in casual sex don’t appear to be at any more increased risk of negative effects than those in more committed relationships. Of the 1,311 sexually active 18- to 24-year-old participants-574 males and 737 females:

o 55% reported that their last sexual partner was with an exclusive partner;

o 25% said their most recent partner was a fiancé, spouse, or life partner;

o 12% said their last sexual partner was a close but not exclusive partner;

o 8% had been with a casual acquaintance.

Said lead researcher, Maria E. Eisenberg, Sc.D., M.P.H, “We were so surprised. The conventional wisdom is that casual sex, ‘friends with benefits,’ and hooking up is hurtful. That’s what we’ve been teaching kids for decades.”

For some, this study’s conclusions all but sanction such behaviors. As one Internet post reads: “But the mentality that young people’s sexuality needs to be controlled, especially young women’s sexuality, is what’s responsible for this so-called ‘conventional wisdom.’ If you haven’t been brainwashed by abstinence-only education, you can see with clear eyes that hooking up is about enjoying pleasure… Casual sex only becomes harmful when it’s stigmatized.”

Still, despite the Minnesota study’s findings and the progressive attitudes held by many, it should be noted what the researchers also found: more than twice as many males as females reported that their last sexual coupling was casual. It seems reasonable, then, to conclude that such findings underscore more than ever the need for parents to remain vigilant, advise their children to protect themselves, and be wary. Schools, too.

As Dr. Eisenberg cautions about the study, “… This should not minimize the legitimate threats to physical well-being associated with casual sexual relationships, and the need for such messages in sexuality education programs and other interventions with young adults.” The risks are very real– physically, as most agree, but emotionally, too, and parents must take note. This is, after all, just one study among countless others that contradict its conclusions.

Gun Safety: The New Topic In Education

Lately, there has been a lot of news about gun safety in schools throughout the U.S., whether it is with new laws allowing college students to bring a gun on campus, or having elementary children sign a voluntary pledge declaring that they will not bring a gun to their school. It seems as though this topic has become something that every school should address in some way to ensure that every student understands the dangers that weapons, such as guns, can potentially have.

No matter if you are for or against guns, I think we can all agree that it is important for all of our children to be aware of them and learn why bringing guns onto school grounds can be a hazard to themselves or to others. However, many people are not sure how to go about firearm safety education or if it is something that should even be taught in schools.

According to the most current data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3,184 children and teens died from gunfire in the United States in 2006- which was a 6 percent increase from the previous year. Of these deaths, 2,225 were homicides, 763 were suicides and 196 were due to an accident or undetermined circumstances and 17,451 children suffered non-fatal gun injuries.

With these rates and the increasing number of school shootings and accidents with youth and firearms that have occurred over the last few years, more and more schools across the country are providing their students with weapon safety classes. Most of the programs that are offered are similar to other education programs such as drug and alcohol education like D.A.R.E. or Sex Ed. A majority of the time, local law enforcement and fire crews come in and do activities with the students, such as demonstrations, videos, role playing, coloring and more.

“Gun education is not mandatory in any state as far as we know, but of course we think all schools should have it,” said Heidi Cifelli, manager of the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle Gun Safe Program. “Gun education is the best way to save young lives.”

Right now, there are two programs that a majority of the schools who offer gun safety are using. The first is the Eddie Eagle Gun Safe Program which is put on by the National Rifle Association. This program provides K-3 students the basics of gun safety with the popular slogan. If you see a gun: Stop! Don’t Touch. Leave the area. Tell an Adult. The program provides students with a workbook with various activities, as well as small rewards for participating and completing the program. The program is taught by the school’s local police departments and has been used by schools nationwide since 1988.

The second program that schools have been using is the Straight Talk About Risks (STAR) program. This K-12 program is put on by Center to Prevent Handgun Violence and includes a number of videos and role playing activities to teach younger students what to do when they come across a gun or weapon of some sort, how to oppose peer pressure to play with guns, and how to differentiate real-life violence from television violence. For the older students, the program presents activities that teach coping skills, decision-making skills, refusal skills for resisting peer pressure, and conflict management skills.

No matter what your stance on guns are, or what program your school uses, it is important that our children get some form of firearm safety whether it is at school or at home. It is important to keep our children safe, and by educating them on firearm safety, hopefully we will see a decrease in gun related incidents or deaths.

Gender and HIV-AIDS – Impact on Education System

HIV/AIDS is as the bubonic plague of our time. Though HIV/AIDS is a talking point on street corners, many people still are not informed scrupulously what HIV/AIDS absolutely means. They are not informed how to keep safe themselves as well. In this regard gender literacy may play an important role to make aware of HIV/AIDS.

Mainstreaming gender touches on the statute, norms, customs and practices thoroughly as the stepping stone to sustainable development. Gender equality defines equality of treatment under the rule and neutrality of opportunity for females and males. An essential fact is that women are always struggling against both a virus and structured discrimination in trying to conquer the threat of HIV/AIDS especially in the developing country.

Women should be made campaign for their fundamental rights. Women living with HIV/AIDS have to be able to develop their inner beings and life skills that they may raise their voices in the face of a huge number of impediments. It results in that they have the courage to face a number of situations which raise the danger of HIV infectivity by way of existing gender discrimination.

HIV/AIDS increases acute threats to the education system over the years. It affects the education programs and projects comprehensively. The principle of present national curriculum has to highlight the learning need issues linked to the HIV/AIDS epidemic prevention, such as general health awareness, safe sex practices, coping with illness and death in the family, lessening discrimination towards people living with HIV/AIDS and enhancing life skills. Consequently it has an integrated impact on ministries, departments, agencies, and policy makers liable for proper scheduling and allocation of education resources and services.

The Ministry of Education has to have a great inclination to take a number of initiatives to prevent HIV/AIDS from spreading with the help of NGOs to ensure community people’s participation. In this case some NGOs are already conducting various programs to achieve ‘goal number 6’ of MDG which includes one target related to HIV/AIDS, namely to have halted the epidemic by 2015 and begun to reverse its spread. For example Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation is a non government organization conducting some HIV/AIDS related program. Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation has identified its various advocacy issues through participatory procedure giving main concern to RTI/STD management (including prevention of HIV/AIDS), training, sex education and connected adolescent reproductive health initiatives, qualitative health and related behavioral research, gender-based violence as well as male participation in reproductive rights and gender equity. The aim of these activities is to achieve a HIV/AIDS free Bangladesh.

This is the time for Bangladesh to take strong initiatives to provide HIV/AIDS and sex related education in the school context. Because many people are still traditional, thinking sexuality is a private matter, they hesitate to talk about it and young people have not sufficient knowledge about HIV/AIDS.