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The New "Third Base" and We're Not Talking Baseball...

As a therapist who has worked with adolescents, parents and families for 17 years, I was especially interested to read Logan Levkoff's new book on teen sexuality, Third Base Ain't What it Used to Be: What Your Kids Are Learning About Sex Today-and How to Teach Them to Become Sexually Healthy Adults. It's been my experience that most parents would rather hear their teen had a psychiatric or substance abuse diagnosis than deal with a sexual issue!

Since I'm a clinician and not an educator, I'm not familiar with the current literature on adolescent sexuality. But I do remember the dry material and no-nonsense (although often giggle-producing) graphic depictions of reproductive organs that were presented to me in health class in school. This book definitely does NOT fall in that category. The book is geared towards parents, with the tone and writing style helping to present the material in a very non-threatening way.

Credentials

Levkoff has been a sexuality educator for more than ten years. She lectures around the country and designs and implements sexuality programs for students of all ages. She has a Masters of Science degreee in Human Sexuality Education and is a doctoral candidate. She writes regularly for national magazines and has written Q&A columns for Ellegirl and Marie Claire.
I tended to give her more credibility because she is degreed in her area of expertise, unlike many so-called media "experts." But beyond her obvious knowledge-base on the topic and experience in the classroom, it is her philosophical approach that won me over. It is very evident from her book that she truly values her demographic - she really listens to and respects the children and adolescents she teaches and interviews! And it's apparent in their willingness to be so open and honest that they respect and trust her.

Philosophy


Levkoff's sites a federal program as a similar foundation for her educational philosophy, the SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (2004). Several tenets listed seem to best exemplify her philosophy:

Sexuality is a natural and healthy part of living and all persons are sexual.

Sexuality includes physical, ethical, social, spiritual, psychological, and emotional dimensions.

Parents should be the primary sexuality educators of their children.

Families provide children's first education about sexuality and share their values about sexuality with their children.

If you agree that a person's sexuality is an inherent part of who they are and not just sexual organs or the act of "having sex," it makes discussion of the topic much clearer and less scary for parents and other adults. Levkoff also approaches sexuality with a developmental emphasis, starting with babies, which should underscore to parents that waiting until your child is a pre-teen is late in the game to begin their education.

Topics

The chapters cover the following topics: Anatomy and Puberty, Masturbation, Sexual Orientation, Sex: Oral, Anal, Vaginal and None at All, Sexual Health: What You Need to Know Now, Pregnancy, Techno-Sex: Pornography and the Media, Talking About Sex: Why It's So Tough. There are also helpful appendices and resources included. Admittedly, there wasn't any earth-shatteringly new material here. But one aspect that I found particularly helpful and very readable was in the kids' questions that she presents in almost every chapter of the book. It's clear that the students in her classes feel comfortable asking any questions without embarrassment or fear of criticism. There really are no "stupid" questions from her audience. Some examples:
  • Do gay men want to be women? Do lesbians really want to be men?
  • Do most people have threesomes?
  • Why are girls called sluts if they like to be sexual, but boys get props from their friends?
  • How long do people have sex for?

Highly Readable

I found this book to be highly readable and informative and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it parents, grandparents, teachers and any adults who spend time with adolescents and younger children.

Nancy L



Read Logan Levkoff's Blog

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