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Sex Education

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To Teach or Not to Teach

Today many more teens are creating sexual experiences or beginning their sexual lives at a very young age. Some believe that the sooner they start having sex the faster and more quickly they will become an adult. Others believe it is a part of their lives that they are ready to deal with. Without the full knowledge of sex education, these teens are making somewhat uniformed decisions and are getting themselves into much more trouble than they thought possible. With so many viruses, diseases, and sicknesses out there, it is wrong to not inform students of what they could be getting into. Without enough sexual education in public schools we are letting teens explore a new world, alone, which could become very dangerous.

Sex education is the practice of attaining information and forming opinions and values about sex. It helps to develop adolescent's abilities that allows for them to make knowledgeable decisions about their character, and feel positive and capable about acting on these choices. The aims of sex education include reducing the risks of negative effects from sexual behavior such as unwanted or unplanned pregnancies and infection from sexually transmitted diseases, and also improving the quality of relationships (avert).

Today young people are given inaccurate and misleading information when it comes to sex education. These teens are either being taught in an abstinence only program or a sex education program that is not sufficient. Teaching kids only about abstinence is not a very responsible approach by the schools or the government, neither is not giving teens thorough information. These programs are said to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases yet they do not teach how to prevent them. Most of the curricula involve telling young people to not touch each other and that abortions can lead to sterility and sometimes even suicide. What kind of information is that? We are sending these teens into the adult world without a sure way of knowing what is right.

Most evidence points to show that sex education programs can increase the usage of contraception, especially condoms, when young people do have sex. It also shows that most of these programs that provide thorough information do produce results. If the emphasis is placed on unprotected sex and the negative outcomes that can come from it, more teens will practice safe sex. On the other hand, programs that teach abstinence from intercourse do no have such success; they do not achieve slowing the onset of intercourse.

Majority of parents believe that some type of sex education should be taught in the schools curriculum. However studies show that they do not all agree on what sort of education is best. Fifteen percent of Americans believe in abstinence-only programs while 36% believe sex education should focus on teaching teens how to make responsible decisions about sex (source). Most Americans would like a program that teaches the basics, such as how babies are made, how to put on a condom, and how to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases; which contrasts with abstinence only education (source). A somewhat controversial topic that is sometimes taught in sex education is homosexuality. Many Americans believe that it is essential to talk about in the classroom but again they debate on what should be taught about it. Fifty-two percents want schools to teach "only what homosexuality is, without discussing whether it is wrong or acceptable" (source).

Successful sex education helps to improve young people's skills in compromising, decision-making, assertion, and concentration. Sex education that works helps to equip young people with the skills to be able to distinguish between correct and incorrect information, argue an array of ethical and social issues, and different views on sex and sexuality, including diverse cultural attitudes and responsive issues like sexuality, abortion, and contraception.

Effective sex education should focus on four main topics: sexual development, reproduction, contraception, and relationships. Sexual development would focus on the maturity of each gender, puberty, and its physical and emotional effects. It could also include the teaching of sexual intercourse. The subject of reproduction would discuss how it occurs, how a baby is made and formed, detailed description of the reproductive organs of each sex and how they contribute, and also the process of birth. The different types of contraception would also be taught along with how they work, the effectiveness of each, how to decide which to use, and how to get them. Relationships would be another important topic that would show how relationships affect people and how it is important to have different types of relationships in one's life. It could also teach how to make them last, how they are equivalent to friendships and how friendship should somewhat be the base of them, and the significance of relationships. Love and commitment would be discussed in conjunction with relationships. This will help to provide information and find out what young people already know and add to their existing knowledge and also correct any misinformation they may have. This will also help young people share their attitudes and views about sex and sexuality.

Yet with the re-election of President Bush, more federal money will soon pour into abstinence education programs that refrain from the discussions of birth control and other factors of safe sex (source). Congress recently added $131 million for abstinence-only programs; nevertheless, ten state evaluations showed little change in teen's behavior since start of the abstinence programs (source). Teaching only about abstinence means students will be less able to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (source). This program prohibits teachers to lecture about how contraception works or where to get it. Abstinence only leaves teens in the dark about sex. If a higher emphasis is placed on a more comprehensive sex education, students can be taught the good and bad that comes out of sex. Abstinence is an important topic, but the reality is that about half of the teens in high school have had sex before they graduate (source). Sex education should enlighten students on how to protect against certain affects of sex and how to deal with them as well. As James Wagoner put it, "the only 100 percent way to avoid a car collision is not to drive, but the federal government sure does a lot of advocacy for safety belts" (source). If this is true, why would the government not spend money in the advocacy of safe sex and sex education programs?

Important topics that would be taught besides abstinence are the importance of birth control, what your choices are if you become



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