Conservatives say a new report released by International Planned Parenthood Federation on comprehensive sex education is inappropriate and oversexualizes ten-year-olds.
"This report isn't about doing what is right for young people and certainly not about offering them the very best options in life. It is about advancing an ideological agenda that is hostile to traditional families, religious faith and the good of children," commented Jeanne Monahan, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, in a statement Tuesday.
The report, "Stand and Deliver," claims young people – defined as 10- to 24-year-olds – today do not have access to enough information and health services when it comes to sex and sexuality. Their "unmet needs and their desires" and the lack of access pose risks to their health and well-being, the report indicates.
"Young people's limited access to education, employment, money and information (about sex, gender roles and relationships, for example), and the lack of opportunities they have to make decisions about their own lives and access sexual and reproductive health services, makes them vulnerable to poor sexual and reproductive health," the report states.
IPPF pushes its case by pointing out that only 17 percent of sexually active young people use contraceptives and they account for half of all new HIV infections. Complications related to pregnancy and childbirth are the number one killer of adolescent girls in developing countries, the abortion provider adds.
"Young people have the right to be fully informed about sexuality and to have access to contraceptives and other services," Bert Koenders, Minister for Development Cooperation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is cited in the report as stating.
The report criticizes religious institutions, especially fundamentalist groups, for imposing "tremendous barriers that prevent young people ... from obtaining information and services related to sex and reproduction."
"Currently, many religious teachings deny the pleasurable and positive aspects of sex and limited guidelines for sexual education often focus on abstinence before marriage," it states. "The reality is, young people are sexual beings and many of them are religious as well. There is a need for pragmatism, to address life as it is and not as it might be in an ideal world.
"Each religion or faith must find a way of explaining and providing guidance on issues of sex and sexual relationships among young people, which supports rather than denies their experiences and needs."
Dr. Gill Greer, director-general of IPPF, argues, "Greater investment in primary and secondary education for girls, comprehensive sexuality education for boys and girls, both in and out of school, which can break down gender stereotypes, and provision of youth-friendly services that ignore taboos and stigma around intimacy and sex will empower girls and young women."
Conservative groups have found the report disturbing, especially for advocating the "empowerment" of kids as young as 10 to "develop satisfying and pleasurable sexual lives."
"'Stand and Deliver' dangerously oversexualizes children as young as ten. Not only are the recommendations developmentally inappropriate, but they advocate behaviors in ten-year-olds that can lead to such disturbing problems as pedophilia and statutory rape," Monahan charged. "Why can't Planned Parenthood let kids be kids?"
Teresa Tomeo, co-author of All Things Girl: Modern and Modest, believes the Planned Parenthood report encourages sexual promiscuity.
"Despite the fact that sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancies, and teen abortions, are on the rise, Planned Parenthood thinks pushing sexual promiscuity to kids as young as 10 is a good idea," she said in a statement Tuesday.
"It's difficult enough for families to fight the constant flow of messages from the mass media that attack a chaste lifestyle; a healthy lifestyle that will protect kids from physical, psychological, and spiritual damage and now this," she added.
Expressing similar sentiments, Monahan believes Planned Parenthood is trying to "undermine parental and religious influence by advocating for a 'human right' to unlimited contraception and mandating so-called comprehensive sex ed for children."
Young people's most basic needs are to love and be loved, Monahan pointed out. Yet Planned Parenthood reduces them to "a one-dimensional caricature of pre-teen sexuality."
"If we are really trying to empower young girls," Monahan said, "let's teach them the truth that getting sexually involved without a lifelong commitment doesn't fill their desire for intimacy but only exploits it. Moreover, it leads to such problems as a greater risk for depression, substance abuse, STDs, and pregnancy, among others."