In today’s society there is a lot of controversy over whether or not sex education should be taught in public schools. A major concern in the topic of teaching sexual education in schools is that it will cause an increase in sexual behavior. However, in today’s world it is impossible to keep sex out of our children’s lives; they hear about from school peers, see it on the internet, and even on television. By choosing not to educate our youth about the safe practices they will become more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and personal angst.
Puberty alone is a confusing enough time for teens, without having to deal with the pressures of sex. If we properly address the changes they will go through early on, we will have a better chance of changing the patterns of poorly taught sex education from the previous years. It will not be us exposing them to dangers, but the ways to avoid the dangers associated with sex. With sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmitted infections, and unplanned pregnancy on the rise, it is time to mandate schools to teach ‘medically accurate’ sex education.
Most people feel that abstinence education is the best approach for students. These programs have the good intentions of persuading teens to wait until they are married before having sex, but abstinence-only education has not achieved this goal and are flawed by the biased and distorted perspective they promote. Here’s the objective reality: Whether you like it or not, teenagers are going to have sex.
According to America’s Center for Disease Control, 47.4 percent of high school students have had sex. And these are only the kids who admit it. ‘Teenagers are bombarded by sex; what they are lacking is sex education’ (Steve Siebold). This is a crisis we are having within our youth, and it is not going to get any better by denying them the proper knowledge about sexual acts. While we assume we are helping them by sheltering their minds, they are being exposed to free pornography sites with no age requirement, facebook, twitter, instagram and many more social media sites that allow graphic sexual images and videos to go viral daily. ‘Only 22 states require their public schools to teach sex education, which is an embarrassment to a country that claims to be progressive’ (Siebold). He adds that ‘our public school system is still debating on whether or not providing condoms in school promotes sexual promiscuity. Condoms don’t promote promiscuity ‘ hormones promote promiscuity! Giving the students access to condoms doesn’t increase their odds of having sex, it just increases the odds that they will have safe sex’ (Siebold).
It’s ok to encourage our youth to practice abstinence, but it is also ok to encourage them to be safe if attempting to remain abstinent should fail. There are many people who would argue that abstinence-only programs are the ‘only’ effective way to educate teens about sex. A 2010 study in the medical journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine published by the American Medical Association, concludes that an ‘abstinence-only intervention reduced sexual initiation’ as well as recent sexual activity among a group of African-American adolescents.
The abstinence-only programs are biased in saying that they are the most effective when evidence shows they have a hidden agenda for which students they cater to. In 2006 the government updated the funding guidelines to state that, in abstinence-only programs, ‘the term ‘marriage’ must be defined as ‘as only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife (Waxman 4). It is honestly hard to fathom how a program that promotes their being built on values of bettering children, teach from such a distorted view? Gays and lesbians are not allowed to be wed in many states, and in the ones they are able to they are still clearly not classified as ‘one man and one woman.’ This type of teaching proves it is not beneficial for all students, as it only applies, by law, to a certain ‘type’ of people. In a regular sex education class, the only thing being taught is safety steps teens need to take if they are considering having sex; like most are.
There should never be a classification of who can be taught in school. If we entrust teachers to educate our children and they will only if they meet a certain criteria, why is such a program even being considered helpful. It is practically impossible to say abstinence-only should be the primary way to teach sex education, when they are more confusing than children educating themselves on the subject.
If we want to save our youth from making poor decisions, we have to stand up and acknowledge that there is a problem. Sex education should not just be taught, it should be mandatory in all schools around the world, regardless of religion, or permission; neither will matter if your child becomes pregnant or infected with and STD or STI. Learning about sex in a safe environment with people who they see daily and are taught to trust can only be beneficial for all parties.
In an ideal world, maybe everyone would wait until marriage to have sex, and would remain in a monogamous relationship; but the cold reality is, trying to teach teens this method and expecting good results is not reasonable. After ten years and half of a billion dollars, in federal funding, abstinence-only programs have not had a positive impact on the sexual behavior of teenagers. Sex education is a very sensitive subject, particularly as students are nearing or undergoing the turbulent years of puberty. However, those who oppose sex education must realize that it is the wishes of no school to encourage sexual activity in students. In an age where sex is becoming more and more recognized as an acceptable form of entertainment, the time is now for us to step in and take control of teaching our youth the proper way to handle sexual pressures.
Steve Diebold. ‘It’s Time to Make Sex Education Mandatory in Our Nation’s Schools’ Huffington Post, Web 09 April, 2013
Kristine Kim and Robert Rector. ‘Evidence on the Effectiveness of Abstinence Education: An Update’ The Heritage Foundation Web 19 February 2010
Waxman, Senator Henry A. ‘New Federally Funded Abstinence Program Guidelines Based on Ideology, Not Science.’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 111th Congress, 16 Feb. 2006. Web 23 July 2009