The Importance of Sex Education
“This is the real world, and in the real world, you need protection,” – Cherie Richards. Students, specifically teenagers, need correct information and the right resources to learn, help and protect themselves. When students have no knowledge whatsoever, they turn to media or even pornography to get information because their parents aren’t open enough about sex or the topic. Sex education is a type of teaching where students are taught about sexuality, contraceptive methods, how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, the importance of protection and attitudes and principles about sex. There is also another kind of sex education which is abstinence-only. While being abstinence-only, some also teach about the process of sex education which could then lead to students learning how to make the right choices.
Implementing more sex education or different types of sex ed. programs would be very beneficial for students and parents both. Both parties would receive education about the topic without the awkwardness of it all. Some parents prefer the abstinence-only method which is not an accurate way to teach, especially hormonal teenagers. Nolan mentions that “Young people won’t stop having sex because they are not given information and contraceptive advice” (Nolan 1998). Most teens are already curious and saying they can’t do something and then not informing them on the topic makes them want to know about it more. Abstinence also excludes the teaching of healthy adult relationships. Richard Hoefer states in one of his writings that “abstinence-only education is less effective at preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than comprehensive sex education” (Hoefer 2017).
Another issue with abstinence only teaching is that if students don’t use this method they are more prone to STIs and pregnancy. Also abstinence programs usually offer inaccurate medical information and outdated stereotypes and assumptions. Hoefer believes that this “misinformation can contribute to larger societal problems such as sexism and heterosexism, and make it difficult for students to engage in healthy and safe intimacy even into adulthood” (Hoefer 2017). Right now, the rate of teen birth and abortions is the highest among other countries, with over one million teens becoming pregnant every year. In another study aimed towards younger adults and teens (18-24), it showed that they have the highest rate of stds. At the same time, “Africa also has the highest number of teen pregnancies in the world” (UNICEF 2017). And even though the rate of teen marriage and pregnancy has gone down in Malaysia and Indonesia, it is still considered quite high compared to the others.
In Japan and South Korea, more developed countries, their teen pregnancy rates are at 4.6% and 2.9%, which are the lowest in the world. Japan and China, among other countries, use the abstinence-only method, and this is more than likely why their rates are extremely low. If these countries were to implement sex education in their communities, they could possibly lower their teen pregnancy rates in the cases where child marriages are higher, or in the abstinence only countries, they could higher their adult pregnancy rates meaning people would not be scared of getting pregnant. It is proven that sex education can reduce teen pregnancy and teen births. Sex education has lowered the United States’ teen birth rate based on a report done in California. The statistics showed that “the birth rate went from 36.2 to 34.1 per 1,000 births to adolescent mothers” (Ventura County Star, 2008). An epidemiologist, Trisha Mueller, found that sex education does work and it also delays teens having sex which then leads to the teen pregnancy rate lowering. Based on a national survey of 2,019 teens aged 15 to 19 in 2002, it was found that teenage boys were three times more likely to use contraceptive methods compared to those who did not have sex ed. For teenage girls who took sex education, having sex before the age of 15 was reduced 59%, while boys’ was 71%, compared to those who didn’t take sex ed. That specific study concluded that “Sex education provides youth with the knowledge and skills to make healthy and informed decisions about sex, and this study indicates that sex education is making a difference in the sexual behaviors of American youth” (Mueller 2008).
Sex education should be implemented in schools because it can reduce teen pregnancy. Informing students how to protect themselves with different contraceptive methods would urge students to use those instead of having unprotected, uninformed sexual relations. Teaching them about contraceptives would also give students places to get different types of contraceptives, male or female, such as condoms, birth control, spermicide, etc. It’s also better for students to get information about sex and different contraceptives from the right resources like schools, rather than from the media. The media could offer potentially harmful resources or ways to do things if a student is desperate, such as the “plastic bag condom” or “double wrapping” methods. Klopp stated in his article “sometimes the only place left to go for this information are peers and the popular media, both of which often give confusing, misinformed, and even dangerous information regarding sexuality” (Klopp 2003). Sex education in schools can also protect younger children and teenagers in many different forms including molestation at a young age, informing them about their own bodies, among other things. To protect children from violence or sexual abuse, children should be given a brief accurate lesson, or a few, about sex at an early age. We should provide children with an adequate sex education. The only “issue” would be how do we represent this sex education without scaring the children or going too in depth for certain ages. When would it be appropriate to provide sex education to children, and can sex education be guaranteed to avoid sex harassment to children? To figure out how to answer these questions, we’d first have to answer these questions. What is sex education mean? How important is it to teach sex education to children? Who should teach sex education to young children? With the thoughts of early sexeducation, the expectation would be to limit the amount of harassment happening. There are many sexually abused children who never came out or received the attention for what was been done to them. Shame, guilt and the fear of being blamed has leaned them away from telling parents or guardians. This is mainly because the victims, more often than not, do not understand what sexual abuse is and they don’t think about their rights to decline being treated this way.
Sex education has only recently become important in the past few years but child sexual abuse has existed throughout history. Implementing sex education into schools can decrease the rate of child sexual abuse and would provide a way out for children and teenagers. Child sexual abuse is any form of sexual activity forced onto a child whether by a person younger or older than the child. Children and teenagers are vulnerable and can be exposed to sexual abuse without anyone knowing. If they did not receive any counseling or teaching, they do not have full understanding of what being taken advantage of means. It also leaves them in a situation where they could be preyed on again. In America, there are 39 million survivors from child sexual abuse. By their 18th birthday, one in four females and one in six males are sexually abused. Sex education gives children and teenagers information about how to prevent sex abuse, that sexual abuse does not happen to everyone else and that they need to get help if they were abused. It teaches children and teenagers to be well aware of sexual abuse. In order to decrease the rate of child sexual abuse, bringing sex education into schools is well needed because children and teenagers would learn about child abusers and sex abuse and they could distinguish them from the good. Children and teenagers would be more aware of the current situation in this modern society and they would know the actions to be taken if necessary. With that, victims would be able to understand that they are not alone and many are willing to lend a hand. There has also been one sex ed program that was organized where students learned to say no to inappropriate acts committed by someone else.
In this specific program, 10 eighth graders from 3 middle schools participated in a yearlong training program. Its motto was “Diplomas Before Diapers”, and its mission is to reduce teenage pregnancy and prepare young people to become healthy, responsible adults. It does not teach abstinence, but urges safe sex and saying no to sexual acts to prolong the amount of childhood before parenthood. The program wants to help young people postpone sexual involvement and parenting, build self-esteem, develop leadership qualities and improve communication and decision-making skills. The curriculum also covers information and discussion of drug and alcohol use and violence prevention. The program helps the students enrolled and their peers. The students enrolled are trained not to give advice, but to listen and to be the first to refer others to the appropriate help. The New Haven public schools offer both a special school for pregnant students, which is Polly McCabe, and a free day care center at Wilbur Cross High School. Although it was said that “One student thought these services might actually encourage teenagers to have babies” (Tuhus 1998) it is very unlikely. All the rest thought that those programs wouldn’t be nearly enough to make up for the large negative change in the lives of young parents. One of the things they hope to convey to their peers is that “contrary to popular belief, not everyone their age is having sex” (Tuhus 1998). The adults in the program also let students know that they are available to talk if they feel uncomfortable speaking to other adults. There wasn’t very much research on how to implement sex education in schools but I believe there could be quite a few solutions. Federal funding for sex education could be raised so more programs could open. By raising funding, colleges could open classes specifically for sex education, rather than having school nurses or PE teachers teaching the class. Another plus of bringing more funding could mean more classes taught by educated individuals would mean better, more reliable information would be taught.
For young teens and adults, sex ed would provide students with the right resources and information involving sex, their own identities and different contraceptives. With these tools, students would utilize this in their everyday lives, whether it be at a younger age or an adult. Donovan mentioned “if young people can discuss sexual drives both at home and at school, they are more likely to accept their own sexuality and take early advice on family planning” (Donovan 1990). When teens are more comfortable speaking about this topic, they are more likely to ask questions from the correct resources and receive reliable information.
Children and teenagers need reliable and factual information about sex, sexual relationships and other various related issues in order to make a right decision for their present and future. They need to understand about what can happen if there are misconceptions about sex, it in turn becomes dangerous. These children are responsible for bringing up the next generations. The implementation of sex education in schools will be able to prepare them properly. Not only that, based on the evidences and research done as well as collected carefully, it proves that sex education brings many benefits by reducing the rate of teen pregnancy, providing teenagers with accurate and helpful information, and also protecting them from harm.