Speaking about Sex HOWARD COUNTY

March 25, 1993

Parental discussions with children about sex should by now be as accepted as talks about values, responsibilities, even homework. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

For the same reasons that parents have always been reluctant to discuss sex with their children -- fear, ignorance and embarrassment -- too many families continue in their silence rather than address this sensitive subject.

Campaigns to foster more open discussions of sex within families are valuable endeavors. Howard County PTAs have banded together for the third year to sponsor such an effort, Parents and Children Talking Night, which is tonight. PTAs are encouraging parents to discuss the subject with their children at home, however they see fit.

While PACT night is meant to extend sex education beyond what's taught in the classroom, neither program should be considered a substitute for the other.

Unfortunately, a significant number of Howard parents have expressed heated opposition to the county's Family Life Program, in which sex education is taught. We can only hope they are as vehement about teaching their children at home.

If they are leaving the matter to some mysterious force, the risk is theirs and, tragically, their children's. AIDS and other communicable diseases have become rampant, and contraceptive education isn't a matter of titillation but of survival.

If there is anything negative to note about the efforts to open lines of communication within Howard families, it is that only seven parents attended a recent seminar at Howard County General Hospital designed to help parents talk to their kids about sex. We can only hope that Howard's well-educated community simply found the seminar unnecessary.

Coincidentally, PACT Night is being held the same week that a group in York County, Pa., urged all the citizens there to abstain from sex for a day. The "Great York County Sex Out" on Monday, which received attention far and wide, was designed to show teen-agers they can have relationships without sex. It may have seemed to some a silly approach to a serious issue, but if it had the effect of generating discussion about these matters, it was as worthy as the efforts being promoted in here in Howard County.

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