After reading the story on 1A, "How well do you know your teen?" the easy thing to do is point a finger at the Payson Unified School District for not providing a sex education program in the classroom.
We could rattle our sabers and demand the school board focus on saving our teens from pregnancy and venereal disease. But then we would be ignoring the real problem.
Over the years, the role of the school has shifted from educator to social worker. Schools have been asked to step in where many parents have checked out -- free lunch and breakfast programs, personal hygiene classes, and now sex education.
Public schools across the country have accepted this role and channeled resources into raising children, not just teaching them.
But we are not going to push for the schools to take on any more responsibility in this matter. It's time for parents to start doing their jobs again.
This week, we talked to local teens about sex education and found out they were learning, not from their parents, but from Web sites and experience.
We learned that teens as young as 13 are sexually active in Payson. We learned they are experimenting with oral sex and online pornography.
But mostly, we learned that someone has dropped the ball with our youth. If the statistics and the anecdotal information we received are true, then teen pregnancy and venereal disease are epidemic here.
Talking about sex with your kids doesn't mean you're condoning the behavior. It means your kids are learning from a safe source and not from a Web site or from peers. Whether you address the topic or not, it is human nature for your teens to search out the information for themselves.
Parents need to be frank. They need to be honest and they need to go beyond, "Sex should be preserved for marriage."
Parents need to take the conversation one step further to the uncomfortable, "If you decide to step outside of our beliefs ..." Even if you want your child to choose abstinence, you cannot be naive. Teach them about condoms, birth control and the social realities of having sex.
Families spend more time talking about what they are going to have for dinner than they do talking about life altering topics such as this one.
We know it's embarrassing. We know it's uncomfortable, but teens need to know it's okay to ask their parents questions about sex. If not you, then who are they going to ask?