McCain Uses Age Appropriate Sex Ed to Attack Obama

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McCain Uses Age Appropriate Sex Ed to Attack Obama

Scott Swenson

John McCain fans the flames of the Culture Wars and endangers the lives of young children by using age appropriate sex ed as a political issue.

In a wild distortion of what age-appropriate sex education is, the McCain campaign is attacking Barack Obama in a new television ad primarily airing on Fox stations in key Midwest battleground states of Ohio, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Predictable attack? Absolutely, especially given that people watching sexual and reproductive health closely saw it coming, as evidenced by this June 13 post. For those who won’t read the link, here is information about a study conducted on age-appropriate sex-ed:

One study of elementary school-age sexuality education, performed at two
Catholic schools in Canada, examined curricula designed for grades K-2,
grades 3 and 4, and grades 5 and 6, each with specific
age-appropriate content. I grant you that Canada is a bit more open
than we are, but the fact this study was conducted in Catholic schools
was most fascinating.

It’s time people in the U.S. ask: if the rest of
the world can figure this out — why can’t we? Why when it comes to sex
do we allow narrow political agendas to blind us to reality? Which
candidates, at all levels of government, will bring our policies more
inline with reality?

Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.

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According to the study, the "emphasis is on defining child sexual abuse in a way that is meaningful
to children and how to say ‘no’ to activities or instances of physical
touching that are inappropriate and make children feel uncomfortable.
The program also addresses what constitutes appropriate physical
touching so that the children will not become confused or anxious." According to the study findings,

  • Participation in the program significantly increased students’ level of
    knowledge of inappropriate touching and slightly increased their
    knowledge of appropriate touching.
  • Parents of participating children reported no negative reactions to the
    program on the part their children, such as an increase in the
    children’s nightmares or discomfort with affection from family members.


The issue of age-appropriate sex ed was also discussed at the You Tube debate during the primaries where candidates Edwards and Obama both clearly discussed the fact that it is important to teach young kids about "wrong touching" in case adult relatives, teachers or clergy prey upon them.

Famed comprehensive sex ed crusader Shelby Knox, from Texas said this after describing the failed abstinence-only-until-marriage policies she encountered growing up

So, now that we’ve covered what sex education should not be, what would
a perfect curriculum look like? Knox sees a sex-ed utopia as an ongoing
process. "A good comprehensive sex-ed curriculum would begin in
kindergarten with age-appropriate information and expand each year to
include more topics, such as puberty, abstinence, relationships skills,
contraception and safer sex methods," she says.


In fact, 25 states are refusing federal abstinence-only-until-marriage monies because of the well documented failures, and because they see the importance of age appropriate comprehensive sexuality education.

The problem of course is when these successful programs get used by politicians as attack weapons, the facts of what study after study demonstrates is really best for children is lost. Leading scientists, public health experts, teachers, and parents agree that we must take a different approach to sex ed. The fact that 25 Governors are rejecting federal dollars in hard times is lost. The fact that there are real threats to young children from authority figures, is lost.

All to score cheap political points and add fuel to the flames of the Culture Wars that have created partisan gridlock.

It doesn’t matter what party or candidate abuses facts like this, especially when it is children who potentially suffer.