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Comprehensive, The Right Approach To Sex Education

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Comprehensive, the Right Approach to Sex Education

Since the first sex education video, "Human Growth" was shown in public schools in the 1940's, sex education in school has remained a controversial subject (Bellafante 9.1). In the present however, it is no longer disputed whether or not sex-ed should be taught, but what should be taught in a sex education program. Conservatives and Liberals both agree that sex education in public schools is important but, their views on what should be taught differ dramatically. Despite the various monikers to describe different sex education programs and curricula, there are really only two types: abstinence-until-marriage and comprehensive (Sex Education Programs: Definitions & Point-by-Point Comparison). In present day society, it is apparent that a comprehensive sex education program should be required and promoted.

The problem with an abstinence-only sex education program is that it is rooted in a permissive sexual ideology. Generally, those who have a restrictive sexual ideology generally support sex education that focuses on abstinence. From this perspective, "The challenge now before the schools is to help young people in every way possible to make the moral decision not to get sexually involved" (Lickona p. 349). However, this is a battle that apparently is being lost as more than 60 percent of teenagers have had sex before the age of eighteen (Kristof A.21). These "abstinence-only" programs either make no mention of contraception and safer-sex practices or they actively discourage them (Sanderson et al. 28-29). It seems that these programs are more interested in promoting the values and ideologies of their proponents than the health of those whom they are designed to help. In all likelihood, these programs are more harmful then they are helpful.

Most Western nations, other than the United States, promote a comprehensive sex education program and have a more permissive sexual ideology (McKay). It becomes obvious that these programs are more effective when statistics, such as teen pregnancy rate and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevalence, are compared. For example, the percentage of teen pregnancies in the U.S is about 9 times higher than in the Netherlands and almost four times higher than in France (Feijoo). Also, the abortion rate percentage is still many times higher in the U.S, nearly seven and three times higher compared to the Netherlands and France respectively (Feijoo). This is almost counterintuitive as abstinence-only programs tend to also stress the immorality of abortion (Sex Education Programs). These statistics prove that a abstinence-only programs are more harmful than good, as American teens are just as likely to have sex as teens from France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Canada are (Feijoo; Connolly A01; Kristof A.21).

Abstinence-only education has become more and more prevalent in America. In 1988 it was surveyed that only 2 percent of sex-ed teachers taught an abstinence only approach, by 2005 it has increased to 25 percent (Kristof A.21). This is due largely to President Bush's advocacy and federal dollars, some $170 million next year alone (Connolly A01). Not only are abstinence-only programs inadequate, they are often misleading. Senator Henry Waxman led an investigation into the curricula of the federally backed abstinence-only programs and found all of them to contain unproved claims, subjective conclusions or outright falsehoods regarding reproductive health, gender traits and when life begins (Donnolly A01). Among these misconceptions were: "HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread via sweat and tears," and "Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse." (Donnolly A01). It must also be made clear that comprehensive sex-ed programs also preach abstinence as the safest method of sexual health, these programs don't however withhold or slant other information that isn't strictly abstinence-only (Sex Education Programs). Senator Waxman a clear proponent of comprehensive



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