Sex Education in Public Schools Where do our children get the information about sex education? Schools are the one institute that children regularly attend; they are geared towards increasing student’s knowledge and improving their skills. Sex education in public schools now seems to be more and more of a controversial issue. People are arguing whether sex education should be taught in public schools or whether it is the parent’s responsibility to teach their children. I believe it should be the parent’s responsibility to teach their children about sexual education, but there is no guarantee that children will be taught by the parents.
In formal survey of 8,000 students over 12 years of age, fewer than eighty percent had received meaningful sex education from their parents (Gordon). Many children feel that parents are the least informative source for information concerning birth control and sexually transmitted diseases (Griffith p. 68). A parent’s responsibility becomes a burden to society when they choose not to educate their child. This generation could be in real danger if parents were left to educate their children on sexuality.
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There are eighteen states that require by law to provide information about some kind of sex education, whether it’s about STDs, HIV/AIDS, abstinence or information on contraception. These states are Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Kansas, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Iowa, Minnesota, Kentucky, Vermont, West Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, New Hampshire. The District of Columbia in Pennsylvania is also required to provide some type of sexual education. Idaho schools are not required by law to provide any sex education to our schools, according to Teen-Aid Inc.
Evidence shows that comprehensive sex education programs that provide information about both abstinence and contraception can help delay the onset of sexual activity among teens reduce their number of sexual partners and increase contraceptive use when they become sexually active. These findings were underscored in “Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior. ” Issued by former Surgeon General David Satcher in June 2001, sex education is the process of acquiring information and forming attitudes and beliefs about sex, sexual identity, relationships and intimacy.
Sex education is also about developing children’s skills so that they make informed choices about sex, and feel confident and competent about acting on these choices. (United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Comprehensive Sexuality Education is a program that starts in kindergarten and continues through high school. It brings up age appropriate sexuality topics and covers the broad spectrum of sex education, including safe sex, STDs, contraceptives, masturbation, body image and more.
The Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Program emphasizes all sexual behaviors and does not cover information on contraceptives, STDs, masturbation, etc. (Witmer) Children are unaware of the risks of unprotected sex, and without the knowledge of sex education, the risk of STDs is higher. With HIV and teen pregnancy crises growing, sex education is needed now more than ever. Since 1981, the year the HIV epidemic began, adolescents have accounted for twenty percent of new infections (Humm p. 142). HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.
It is a blood-borne virus that is transmitted when a person comes into contact with the body fluids of someone who is infected with the disease. One of the most common ways this happens is unprotected sex. The virus can go undetected for many years with no obvious signs of infection. Because of this, only a small number of teens infected with HIV actually know they have it. If teens take the risk of having unprotected sex with their partner because they are sure their partner doesn’t have the virus, they are putting themselves at an even greater risk and the HIV crisis could continue to grow.
Fifty-seven percent of U. S. teens have had sex by the age of seventeen and usually with more than one partner (Humm p. 144). Sex education should teach children exactly how risky unprotected sex is and the possible consequences. Teen pregnancy is also a problem in the United States. The Alan Guttmacher Institute estimates that twelve million teens become pregnant each year. This may be directly related to our children’s lack of knowledge. If the Alan Guttmacher Institute is correct or even close in their estimates, then every day over 2,054 teenage girls become pregnant.
The Alan Guttmacher Institute suggests that effective sex education will help reduce teen pregnancy by encouraging sexual responsibility. It has been proven in other countries that comprehensive sexual education has made the effects of sexual activity lower than those of the United States. A study conducted in Sweden and the Netherlands showed that teens in those countries were just as sexually active, but the teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease rate was much lower there then it is in the United States.
Some researchers believe this is because sex education begins in elementary school and continues on. (Bender p. 13) Only ten percent of American youth participate in a comprehensive program that lasts forty hours. American teens continually score low on questionnaires that cover sexual knowledge. (Gordon p. 45) The United States has the resources available to teach our children about sexual education the way the youth of Sweden and the Netherlands are taught. Since we have the resources available but we do not use them it would seem Americans have more important things to spend their money on.
Providing our children with proper sexual education would benefit them in many ways. Nowadays it seems that children get the information about sex and sexuality from a wide range of sources including each other, through the media including advertising, television and magazines, as well as leaflets, books and websites. Some of this information will be accurate and some inaccurate. Charles Krauthammer states that “sex oozes from every pore of the culture and there’s not a child in the world who can avoid it. ” With the lack of information through the media, children are misinformed.
Children need to have information about sexual development, reproduction and relationships. They need to have information about the physical and emotional changes associated with puberty and sexual reproduction, including fertilization and about sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Children also need to know about contraception and birth control and how they work and how they can be obtained. Children should be provided with information about abortion as well about the range of sources of advice and support that is available in the community and nationally.
Being exposed to sex on an everyday basis, the independent teen today will make their own decision on the morality and at what point they engage in sexual contact. The most important thing is to make sure that they know as much about the act of sexual intercourse, the risks, and the consequences of pre-marital sex. Honest and real sex education should give children an understanding of what positive sexuality is and is not. We need to help our children to prevent themselves from making decisions that may destroy their lives.
After all, if the children do not have bright futures, how can the rest of the country? Work Cited Alan Guttmacher Institute. 2 Mar. 2009 . Bender, Leone. Introduction. Teen Sexuality: Opposing Viewpoints. Bender, David, series editor. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1988. pg. 13. Gordon, Sol. “Sex Education is Necessary. Teenage Sexuality: Opposing Viewpoints. Bender, Leone, series editor. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1988. Pg. 45. Griffith, Saralyn B. , Susan H. Lewis and Hyman Rodman. “Sex Education in Schools Is Necessary. ” Teenage Sexuality: Opposing Viewpoints. Bender, series editor.
San Diego: Greenhaven Press 1988 Humm, Andy and Frances Kunreuther. “Educating Teenagers About AIDS Can Help Stop its Spread. ” AIDS: Opposing Viewpoints. Bender, series editor. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1992. pg. 142. Teen-Aid Inc. 2 Mar. 2009 http://www. teen-aid. org/State_Resources/State_Sex_Education_Laws. html. Satcher, David. “Abstinence Promotion and Teen Family Planning: The Misguided Drive for Equal Funding. ” The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy. 2002. United Nations Universaol Declaration of Human Rights. 2 Mar. 2009 Witmer, Denise. Sex Education in Schools. 3 Mar. 2009