Here's What I Think about Sex Education in the Schools
There are only a few people who oppose sex education in schools, but the number of people who oppose comprehensive sex education and support abstinence-only programs is more significant.
So, before we put this to a vote...I'll give my opinion and then provide some information.
Although I understand the value of wanting kids to wait, I think it's misguided to think that having good information about sex and sexuality makes kids engage in such activity sooner. I also believe the lack of information puts kids at great risk.
I think that good, accurate information provided when it's age and developmentally appropriate, helps kids protect themselves against predators, assures that they develop a positive body image, and eventually are able to form better, healthier relationships once they are adults. Misinformation gained from peers and the media aren't a good way of gaining the information needed. Knowledge can make for healthier, safer, and happier kids who avoid unwanted pregnancies, STD's and more as they mature. Abstinence may be part of the program but should not stand alone.
Currently most funding for sex education by the federal government is exclusively for abstinence only programs.
On to Some Important Questions and Information
Opponents of comprehensive sex education often point to parents, saying that it is more appropriate for parents to teach their kids about sex and for schools to stick to academics.
Of course many parents do talk to their kids about sex. But do they cover the details as far as the physical function, health related issues (STDs etc.), birth control, or how to handle pressure to have sex before they are ready? Are they discussing these issues soon enough, before kids are faced with a situation they may not be ready to handle?
If some parents aren't able to cover all of this then kids have an incomplete understanding of things and their educational gaps get filled by other kids, television, movies, etc.
So should educational gaps be filled by media images and inexperienced peers or by schools who can present the full facts? Kids will get the information, one way or the other, it's just a matter of accuracy and completeness.
So is Comprehensive Sex Education in Schools More Effective?
- US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health
Published in 2011 it gives a fairly comprehensive comparison of Abstinence-only vs Comprehensive Sex Education programs across the country ...and relates it to rates in other countries.
- American Psychological Association
An APA press release about the effectiveness of comprehensive sex education vs. abstinence only programs based on research studies.
- Science Direct
A brief about a study which finds that comprehensive sex education doesn't increase the likelihood of sexual activity but does decrease pregnancy.
- Advocates for Youth
Advocates for Youth supports comprehensive sex education.
- UW resarch
This Seattle Times article reports the findings of a UW research project.
- Repro Health Hub
A blog which cites numerous studies supporting the argument for comprehensive sex education.
The Facts about Comprehesive Sex Education
Other Questions Why Comprehensive Sex Education Might be Important
I ask myself:
Would kids develop a better body image if they had a forum where they could discuss their changing body with an informed adult in a non-judgemental manner?
Would small children benefit from knowing what is appropriate touching versus inappropriate touching?
Is it possible kids would develop better intimate relationships as adults if they grew up feeling more confident about their bodies and understood the appropriate role of sex in real relationships?
Would teenagers be less likely to become pregnant or to develop STDs? Would they be more likely to report problems if they were informed?
Would more kids view sex as part of a committed relationship versus as being purely recreational if parents and teachers discussed such things a bit more openly versus leaving such important information to be conveyed by popular music, television, movies, and magazines?
If kids decide to have sex, which ultimately they will even if it's not until they're adults, why would we want their role model to be these media images versus something based on honest discussion?
Would kids more likely get what they need from a comprehensive sex education program versus a program that leaves out information regarding health, birth control, etc.?
Why Comprehensive Sex Education is Necessary
- 1 in 4 Teen Girls Infected With an STD
One in four teenage girls in the United States is infected with a sexually transmitted disease, according to data released by the CDC.
- The Washington Post
A rise in teenage pregnancy in 2007 for the first time in 17 years. Some experts blame the focus on abstinence only programs with teens.
- Discovery Health
This page discusses the long and short term issues associated with teen pregnancy.
Article which discusses Obama's support for early sex education to teach young children about appropriate and inappropriate touching.
YOUR TURN! Should Schools Include Comprehensive Sex Education or Abstinence Only?
What do you think?