I would like to hear viewpoints on both sides of this issue. We probably all realize that a good many clergy would say that it’s the parent’s duty. And on the other side, we have the reality that many parents don’t take up the responsibility. So some say that there needs to be classes available for parents to bring their children (teens?).
Our Catholic school has a chastity education program that begins in first grade. It’s all about teaching children about their relationship with God and the virtues of modesty and chastity and their body as a temple of the holy spirit, etc. In fourth grade for girls and fifth grade for boys the students can attend separate programs on puberty and their physical and emotional development. At least one parent attends with their child and of course the parents can opt out if they feel it’s not appropriate for their child. In seventh grade the students attend a second program, which is the nitty gritty about conception, fetal development and birth.
Two of our children have gone through the first one and one has gone through both. I thought they were extremely well done. We had already talked with our children about puberty and sex, but these took it a step further. They had visual aids, models of fetuses month by month, movies of babies in the womb, and very well educated and engaging speakers. We felt they did a great job enhancing our children’s understanding of this area. I was a little apprehensive at first and reviewed the materials, but honestly found nothing inappropriate or incorrect according to Catholic teaching.
So, even though we, as parents, met our duty and our children didn’t “need” this in the sense that it was the only way they would receive the information, they benefited from it. Of course, if the course addressed artificial birth control or premarital sex or homosexual relationships, I would have a different opinion. This was a secular program sponsored by a health center but it was abstinence based and very well done.
I do believe parents should teach this at home, but would not object to a program, similar to dwc’s post. In fact, where did your parish find this? What is it called? I would like to introduce it to our parish. If all parishes were more open about what their programs contained, and allowed parents to preview the program, I think most parents would be okay with allowing their children to attend them.
I think having the option of the classes would be a good idea, to give the parents a bit of support if they need it. Whatever is taught in the class needs to be backed up at home, to help it stick, so to speak, so in the end it is the parent’s responsibility. It would be the same, in my mind, as a parent selecting a book to read with their child on the topic. It’s still the parent’s choice HOW the child learns about this kind of thing.