As a parent will I be involved in the process of teaching my child about a value system and human sexuality?
Yes. All of the approved textbook programs recognize parents as the primary teachers of their children in faith and morals. The textbook authors, as well as your parish and school, seek to assist you as a parent or guardian in conveying the fullness of life in Christ to your child.
Does the Catechesis for Human Sexuality present a clear moral teaching that reflects the value system of the Catholic Faith?
Yes. All the approved textbooks are in conformity with the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and therefore present the moral theology of the Catholic Faith.
Is this catechesis only about human sexuality?
No. The majority of the lessons flow from understanding oneself in relationship to family community, social community and Church community. It may more rightly be called a Catechesis for Healthy Relationships.
Will my children be learning specifics about human sexuality before they are ready?
No. Each grade level is specifically geared to age appropriate lessons. Specific sexual reproduction lessons are presented as separate booklets when a child reaches the 5th and 6th grades. These separate booklets can be used in the home to convey the information, or they can be used in the classroom with the parents’ cooperation.
How specific does the information get on the male and female reproductive organs?
Each textbook series has Family Resource books that are separate from the student text. The family resource provides simple and direct information that specifically and appropriately teach human reproduction.
Abuse prevention, especially sexual abuse prevention, is such a personal issue – why is it being taught in the schools?
Child abuse prevention must be a community wide effort that involves children, parents, schools and other community agencies. It is the job of the schools to educate and to help ensure that our children are available, physically and emotionally, to learn. Children who are being maltreated often suffer a variety of emotional, behavioral, and cognitive problems that often result in poor academic functioning. We cannot expect to educate children successfully who are not having basic needs met in their personal lives.
I do not want to talk to my children about sexual abuse, because I do not want to frighten them. Is this really the right thing to do?
You, as the parent, are probably more uncomfortable or frightened by this than your children. We provide safety information to our children in a number of other areas. For example, you teach them to look both ways when crossing the street to avoid being hit by cars, and we teach them to “stop drop and roll” if clothes catch on fire to prevent burning. The best way to reduce the risk of abuse is to nurture healthy sexual development in our children so that they recognize when boundaries are being violated and ask for help. We can do this by sending positive, protective messages without scaring them unnecessarily.
I am concerned that I really cannot tell who is and who is not a sex offender.
You are exactly right. There is no such thing as a typical sex offender. In fact, many sex offenders are very charming people. As adults we must be vigilant, take precautions around people who have “red flags,” and create homes where our children feel comfortable asking questions about sexuality and abuse.
How will I know if I can believe allegations about sexual assault? Do people/children make false allegations?
The vast majority of victims tends to minimize sexual assault, or do not disclose the abuse out of self-blame, fear, or shame. This is particularly true of child victims. Research indicates that sexual assault is no more falsely reported than any other crime. The best approach is to believe the victim, listen to his or her allegations, offer your support, and support the victim in getting the help that she/he needs.
Can I protect my children?
You can minimize risk by listening to their concerns and questions, talking to them about sexuality and sexual abuse, and ensuring an openly communicative family lifestyle where your children know they can come to you if they have questions, fears or concerns.
I have heard that sometimes children willingly participate in sexually abusive activities and that they are partly to blame.
Because of their age and the age difference between children and their perpetrators, children are unable to truly consent to sexual activity. They are NEVER to blame for their own abuse – although they are often made to FEEL as if they were willing participants due o the manipulative behavior of their abusers. This further contributes to their blame and guilt. One of the most healing responses is to assure the child that they bear absolutely NO responsibility for what an adult has done to them or made them do.