Sex Education: Does It Really Work?

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Sex Education: Does it Really Work?

Roy Peters

"Forty percent of today's fourteen year old girls will become pregnant by the time they are nineteen" (qtd. in "The Effects" 632). This statistic may indicate that the sex education programs in the United States are not controlling the effects of sex by teens. "The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate of developed countries" ("The Effects" 632). I believe that the people of this nation need to look at the current sex education programs and see if they are properly addressing the problems that sex education was intended to stop. The three major reasons why sex education is taught in our schools are: 1) to discourage teens from having sex at younger and younger ages; 2) to stop the spread of AIDS and other STDs; and 3) to prevent teenage pregnancy. I believe that the sex education programs being used today are not effective at controlling these three problems. Today's sex education programs are abstinence based. "Washington has spent some $31.7 million developing abstinence only curricula" (Shapiro 56). By looking at the problems sex education tries to solve, we can improve the sex education programs by putting the problems in order of importance. This will prove that teens having sex at a younger age is the reason for the failure of sex education in this country. To counteract this problem abstinence should be taught to children under the age of 16. Then when the children reach the age of 16 they need to be taught AIDS and condom education.

AIDS and other STDs are an important reason we have sex education. AIDS education is supported in all fifty states: "Sex education is only formally required or recommended in 47 states" (Gibbs 61). This shows that AIDS education is considered more important than sex education. AIDS can be spread by the transfer of bodily fluids such as blood or semen from an infected person to one who is not. This includes sexual activity, intravenous drug use, and blood transfusions. Many people are still contracting AIDS through sexual contact even though there has been a nationwide awareness program. It is a fact that "2.5 million teenagers are affected by sexually transmitted diseases each year" ("The Effects" 632). This statistic does not take into account AIDS cases. That is a large number of teens that are missing the message about safe sex and abstinence. This shows how poorly our current system of sex education is working. Because if it was effective, these numbers would be much lower than what they are. Condoms can prevent the spread of AIDS sexually, but the use of condoms requires a change in one's sexual habits. "Once patterns of sexual intercourse and contraceptive use are established, they may be difficult to change" (qtd. in Whitehead 69). "One survey shows that among sexually active 15 year olds, only 26 percent of boys and 48 percent of girls had sex education by the time they had first intercourse" (Shapiro 58). This is one reason that AIDS education has not been totally successful. It relies on sex education to stress condom use, but many young teens are forming their patterns of contraceptive use or nonuse before they are educated enough to make the right decision.

Another major problem sex education tries to solve is teen pregnancy. "American teenage females experience about one million unplanned pregnancies each year" ("The Effects" 632). "About thirty-seven percent of teenage pregnancies end in abortion and about fourteen percent in miscarriage" (Whitehead 73). The social consequences of teens having children are great. If a teenage mother does not finish high school or become married there is a seventy-nine percent chance that the mother and the child will be poor (Whitehead 73). Teenage girls have greater control over their fertility today than they had in the past, and yet the percentage of births to unwed mothers continues to rise (Whitehead 73). This shows that sex...
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