New Article on the NAIS Blog

I’ve begun writing for the Independent school Magazine Blog, published by NAIS.  The first entry is: “Common Sense (and Nonsense) about Sexuality Education for Young Children,” March 2, 2016.

You can read the entire text at the NAIS blog. This is such an important topic, and I would welcome feedback and discussion. Please leave a comment below, or visit the NAIS blog and leave a comment there. Below are two short excerpts.

“We know from decades of research that children and adolescents raised by adults who educate and converse with them about sexuality grow up in healthier ways than their peers. For example, while common nonsense might hold that “knowing leads to doing” or some other unwanted effect, just the opposite is true: Kids with this kind of guidance and support significantly postpone involvement in sexual behaviors as they mature. Keeping them in the dark, in other words, is the real danger here.”

‘Bottom line: The kind of readiness young children need to learn about their origins — or, really, about any other topic related to sexuality — is primarily cognitive readiness, not emotional readiness, as many adults, out of their own anxieties, project it to be.”

Full blog entry

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Teen Sexual Assault: Where Does the Conversation Start?

I was on NPR’s All Things Considered Sunday this evening (April 28), discussing teen sexuality and educating teens after Steubenville. The program segment is Teen Sexual Assault: Where Does the Conversation Start? Here is the link to the program overview and to the full recording (11:30).

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Gender and Sexuality Diversity Panel

I will be participating in the program on Gender and Sexual Diversity at the Lowell School, Washington DC, on April 23, 2013, at 7:00 pm. Also on the panel with me will be Dr. Edgardo Menvielle, of George Washington University and Children’s National Medical Center; and Kisha Webster, Associate Director of Welcoming Schools (HRC). There will be time for questions and answers.From the program announcement:

Whether we talk about it or not, gender and sexuality are part of our everyday lives—from Happy Meals and fairy tales to news about same-sex marriage. Children are constantly absorbing and interpreting the subtle messages around them and adults need to help them decode those messages. Learn how parents and schools can partner to support children’s gender and sexual identity development and their respect for one another.

Among the questions we expect to discuss are:

  • How do the media messages that surround my child impact their identity development?
  • What is the difference between gender expression and gender identity?
  • Should I be talking top my young child about sexuality diversity? If so, how?

The program again is presented by the Lowell School, Washington DC.  It is possible (though not necessary) to register in advance: 202-577-2000 or Website.

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The Steubenville Case: The Sandy Hook of Acquaintance Rape?

The high profile events in Steubenville, Ohio, involving the rape of a drunken sixteen year old girl by two fellow high school students, have the potential to shine a broad swath of light on “acquaintance rape” in America. My students and I have been taking the complexities apart in classroom discussions since the guilty verdict was announced. Here are some of the issues we’ve discussed. They also make for great discussion topics at home.

  • America’s “Rape Prone Culture,” especially its “blame the victim” mentality
  • Legal definitions of “rape”
  • Confusions about the issue of consent
  • The power of “group think”
  • The association between alcohol use, poor judgment, and dangerous activity
  • The lack of adequate adult supervision when teenagers socialize
  • The unbridled use of technology in the hands of young people, and its power to ruin or change young lives forever
  • “Jock Culture” and the entitled belief that one is special and above the rules
  • The complicity of adults in facilitating and even covering up events that encourage sexual assault
  • The lack of empathy among perpetrators and bystanders toward another fellow human being

If the judge in the case has his way, there will be a continuing investigation into several of these elements–many students and adults in the community are involved as witnesses or facilitators of the events surrounding the rapes–that will keep these important issues front and center in the news. Let’s hope so.

It’s way past time to take acquaintance rape, its multiple causes, and its aftermath seriously.

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Leading Edge Education Summit

Leading Edge Educational SummitI will be appearing on a panel at the Leading Edge Education Summit , sponsored by St. Anne’s School of Annapolis, Maryland, Thursday, April 11 at 7 p.m. Joining me on the panel will be Dr. JoAnn Deak and Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair. We will hold a discussion on research-based strategies for raising and educating intellectually, socially and emotionally healthy children. There will be time for questions from the audience, and I will be signing copies of my books. Sign up here.   Join us. Debbie

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