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Question: How can kids be taught the Third & Fifth Precept, of abstaining from sexual misconduct and taking of intoxicants?

Answer: For teaching the Third Precept to kids who have yet to reach puberty, I suggest teaching it ‘forward’, simply in terms of loyalty to their friends and future spouses. In terms of physicality, I suggest teaching it in terms of abstaining from sensual (instead of sexual) indulgence (of the senses). Sex just happens to be the melting pot of sensual enjoyments. Eg. see tinyurl.com/bealamp6 page 76’s last paragraph:

‘Aware of the suffeing caused by sensual indulgence, I will also not mindlessly indulge my senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and/or mind in the sense pleasures (e.g. shows, music, food, sex etc.) such that I am distracted from the path of self-improvement.’

The key word is ‘indulgence’. You can remind the kids that it’s okay to enjoy sense pleasures (but not sex yet!), but if there is addiction to enjoyment (e.g. to gaming, surfing the net), it causes suffering when deprived, and when it distracts them from their responsibilities like schoolwork. Moderation with the Middle Path is the guide.For teaching the Fifth Precept to kids, it is good to teach in advance, about the destructive personal and social harms of intoxication and addiction in terms of drug abuse, smoking, drinking… They should be able to understand the harms when given examples of abuse. (This is actually linked to the Third Precept in terms of sensual indulgence.)

You can also remind them likewise that substances addicted to cause suffering when deprived, leading to loss of mindfulness, which is dangerous to oneself and others, as one might come to break all the other precepts. This is classically represented by this story: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/zeph/message/785 It is important to teach about the Fifth Precept this way as more and more are taking up smoking and drinking at a younger age, which can lead to lifelong issues.

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