Today young people are given inaccurate and misleading information when it comes to sex education. These teens are either being taught in an abstinence only program or a sex education program that is not sufficient. Teaching kids only about abstinence is not a very responsible approach by the schools or the government, neither is not giving teens thorough information. These programs are said to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases yet they do not teach how to prevent them.
Most of the curricula involve telling young people to not touch each other and that abortions can lead to sterility and sometimes even suicide. What kind of information is that? We are sending these teens into the adult world without a sure way of knowing what is right. The true aims of sex education include reducing the risks of negative effects from sexual behavior such as unwanted or unplanned pregnancies and infection from sexually transmitted diseases, and also improving the quality of relationships (avert) and, therefore, is undoubtedly a necessary practice.
Most evidence points to show that sex education programs can increase the usage of contraception, especially condoms, when young people do have sex. It also shows that most of these programs that provide thorough information do produce results. If the emphasis is placed on unprotected sex and the negative outcomes that can come from it, more teens will practice safe sex. On the other hand, programs that teach abstinence from intercourse do no have such success; they do not achieve slowing the onset of intercourse. Majority of parents believe that some type of sex education should be taught in the schools curriculum.
However studies show that they do not all agree on what sort of education is best. Fifteen percent of Americans believe in abstinence-only programs while 36% believe sex education should focus on teaching teens how to make responsible decisions about sex (Sex Education in America 1). Most Americans would like a program that teaches the basics, such as how babies are made, how to put on a condom, and how to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases; which contrasts with abstinence only education (Sex Education in America 1).
A somewhat controversial topic that is sometimes taught in sex education is homosexuality. Many Americans believe that it is essential to talk about in the classroom but again they debate on what should be taught about it. Fifty-two percents want schools to teach “only what homosexuality is, without discussing whether it is wrong or acceptable” (Sex Education in America). Successful sex education helps to improve young people’s skills in compromising, decision-making, assertion, and concentration.
Sex education that works helps to equip young people with the skills to be able to distinguish between correct and incorrect information, argue an array of ethical and social issues, and different views on sex and sexuality, including diverse cultural attitudes and responsive issues like sexuality, abortion, and contraception. Effective sex education should focus on four main topics: sexual development, reproduction, contraception, and relationships. Sexual development would focus on the maturity of each gender, puberty, and its physical and emotional effects.
It could also include the teaching of sexual intercourse. The subject of reproduction would discuss how it occurs, how a baby is made and formed, detailed description of the reproductive organs of each sex and how they contribute, and also the process of birth. The different types of contraception would also be taught along with how they work, the effectiveness of each, how to decide which to use, and how to get them. Relationships would be another important topic that would show how relationships affect people and how it is important to have different types of relationships in one’s life.
It could also teach how to make them last, how they are equivalent to friendships and how friendship should somewhat be the base of them, and the significance of relationships. Love and commitment would be discussed in conjunction with relationships. This will help to provide information and find out what young people already know and add to their existing knowledge and also correct any misinformation they may have. This will also help young people share their attitudes and views about sex and sexuality.
Yet with the re-election of President Bush, more federal money will soon pour into abstinence education programs that refrain from the discussions of birth control and other factors of safe sex (Barras). Congress recently added $131 million for abstinence-only programs; nevertheless, ten state evaluations showed little change in teen’s behavior since start of the abstinence programs (Barras). Teaching only about abstinence means students will be less able to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (China daily).
This program prohibits teachers to lecture about how contraception works or where to get it. Abstinence only leaves teens in the dark about sex. If a higher emphasis is placed on a more comprehensive sex education, students can be taught the good and bad that comes out of sex. Abstinence is an important topic, but the reality is that about half of the teens in high school have had sex before they graduate (Dhingra). Sex education should enlighten students on how to protect against certain affects of sex and how to deal with them as well.
As James Wagoner put it, “the only 100 percent way to avoid a car collision is not to drive, but the federal government sure does a lot of advocacy for safety belts” (China daily). If this is true, why would the government not spend money in the advocacy of safe sex and sex education programs? Important topics that would be taught besides abstinence are the importance of birth control, what your choices are if you become pregnant and where to go for help, where to get checked up and tested regularly. Young people need to know their options and who and where to go for help.
The very debatable topic of homosexuality would also be taught. What homosexuality is and what is thought to be the different causes or explanations for it would be important discussions about it. Homosexuality would cover the fact that everyone is different and that everyone should be accepted as they are. Explaining to teens that there are people out there that are willing to help them and care about them is also another major factor. Religious and cultural views relating to sexual behavior and sexual diversity would be provided.
Sex education needs to include all of these things and not just mention it but actually teach and give explanation in addition. Parents should be a major support but majority of the time teens will do as they please, so at least they would be informed enough to make more intelligent decisions. Not only should the physical consequences of sex be taught but also the emotional. Of course emotions will differ with different people but being educated is not a bad thing. Once sex comes into a relationship, emotions and feelings change, and it becomes easier to get hurt.
A lot of the time, especially with women, they gain an emotional attachment to a person they have had sex with. If this person does not reciprocate the same feelings, it is easy to get hurt. Some people may feel used by the other person and this is also another simple way to feel crushed. Morals could also be greatly affected by sex; they can have a positive and negative affect. Some may have strong morals in believing in waiting for marriage before having sex. Some teens may try sex and realize that it is not for them and change their morals to wait.
Others may believe that you should wait until you find someone that you truly love but may give in and not hold on to their morals so strongly. There are several ways that morals can be involved in ones sexual life. People can easily lose their morals with sex, or maybe even gain stronger morals. Sometimes people get so hooked on something that they can either give up or lose interest in things that were once most important to them. Someone who was to become addicted to sex and give up on everything that they held valuable to them can lead their life into a downward spiral.
Today various teens are jumping into sex without actually taking the time to think about their decision or understanding the consequences. Many teens feel that if they are ready to have sex, they are not hurting anyone. There are many reasons for why they may think they are ready: they believe they are mature enough, think they know all they need to know, feel that they are of the right age, in love, or that if everyone else is doing it they should be able to as well. These teens believe the only person affected by them having sex is themselves.
But unfortunately, that is not the case. Having sex can affect so many other people as well, your partner(s), parents, friends, family, etc. A sexually active person who is not careful can transmit diseases or find themselves pregnant/impregnating someone. Teens may lose touch with their families and friends if they do not agree with or understand each others lifestyles. If a baby is brought into this world, it affects the parents of the baby, the families, and usually the student’s academics as well.
A baby can change someone’s whole life entirely. Teen pregnancy rate in the United States is at its lowest since the 1970s, still one million teens become pregnant each year and 78% are unintended(Hoffman). However, the United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the Western World (Hoffman). Even an STD can have the same affect as a baby, yet could sometimes have even worse consequences; STDs can even sometimes kill you. People ages 15 to 24 account for half of the new cases of STDs in the United States each year (Abma et al. ).
If sex education programs are changed to include all of these topics, adolescents will be more knowledgeable and aware of very important issues. This will help to lead to less teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, less emotional traumas, and healthier relationships between teens. Teens will be given the confidence to ask for advice and know where to seek that advice. This can improve the relationships between parents and their children and also show the importance of health and welfare services and government agencies, such as Planned Parenthood or family planning clinics.
The main focus of a comprehensive sex education program would be to teach that sexuality is a healthy and normal part of being human. Once students are given the full knowledge of all that comes with sex, hopefully they can make a better choice to dive into this adult world or to wait. We can trust that they will be able to determine for themselves the positive characteristics of relationships and furthermore understand what can negatively influence them.
We can anticipate that if they need help they will know where to turn. All we can hope is that they will make the decision to do what they feel is best for them and know that we gave them all they needed to know.
Works Cited Abma, J. C. , Martinez, G. M, Mosner, W. D. & Dawson, B. S. “Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use and Childbearing. ” 2004. Vital Health Statistics 23 (24). Barras, Jonetta Rose. “Abstinence Ed Money Makes Odd Bedfellows. ” Youth Today. www.citizensforethics.org/