Sex Education: When is it effective?
5 October 2014
Sex education is a common form of instruction in most countries. In The United States it traditionally occurs when a child reaches adolescence, which in modern times is met with the guidance of formal school programs, parents, and public health programs. The overall effectiveness for such instruction is detrimental to the way adolescents learn to perceive sexual matters. In The United States there are two basic types of sex education, comprehensive, and abstinenceonly. The difference between effective and ineffective sex education relies on how well students are informed on both the biological and the psychological workings of sex. Depending on the overall effectiveness of their sex education, students’ lives can be severely affected, for better or for worse. Young people have a fundamental right to be instructed on accurate, unbiased information about their anatomies and sexuality. Therefore effective comprehensive sex education should be taught in every school, leaving students with knowledge that will allow them to act responsibly in regards to their sex life. The role that sex education plays in the initiation of sexual activity is controversial, mostly due to the stigma of sexuality in schools. In fact, there are many parents who prefer to have their children go without formal sex education just as there are many reasons why a person may not want their child to learn about sexuality. Most of us “don’t take challenges to our opinions of what is right or wrong about sexual behavior lightly.” (Henslin).These personal reasons can range from religion, shame, or simply wanting to protect their child from the dangers of sex. In addition, it is commonly believed that sex education encourages sexual activity. Apart from excluding these programs, abstinenceonly education programs often fail at informing students as well
and instead focus on the introducing students to biased and alarmingly inaccurate information.
“The option to have sex is just as important as the option to not have sex” (Lafferty). Even so
the option to choose can be easily influenced. Abstinenceonly programs are a prime example of this influence, these programs are known to persuade students to undergo an abstinence pledge, which commits them to refrain from sex until marriage. Do abstinence pledges work? As many as 1 in 8 teenagers take this pledge but does it more likely than other teens to delay sexual activity? A recent study, published in the
journal Pediatrics made the conclusion that “w
hile most teens wait until
17 to lose their virginity, those who take the pledge normally wait until they're at least 21”
However, further research has shown that a young person’s background, such as their dedication to their religion, has a much larger impact on how long they wait to lose their virginity than just simply taking the pledge. Other statistics, done by the US Department of Health, show that very few people, only 5 percent of all Americans, choose to be abstinent until marriage. With this information one can conclude that the pledge does not work how it’s intended and that the uninformative subject matter of abstinenceonly education is not helpful for nearly every teenager. Abstinence pledges do no harm, but students that do pledge should do so without basing their goals on biased information. Biased information, presented as fact, should never belong in a school’s curriculum, especially when it comes to the immensely critical and personal subject of sexuality. All of twelve US states require medically accurate sex ed. That means that schools in 38 states can choose whether or
not to educate teenagers on the biological aspects of sex. This includes educating them ...
References: Henslin, James. M. (2014).
Social Problems: A DowntoEarth Approach
Boonstra, Heather. D. (2014).
What Is Behind the Declines in Teen Pregnancy Rates?
Theresa, Tampkins. (2008).
Lafferty, William E., Kohler, Pamela. K., Manhart, Lisa. E. (2007).
The Office of Adolescent Health. (2013).
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