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Teaching Sex Ed. In School

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How to teach school based programs on sexuality and sexual health is a hot topic in today's society. The government, including President Bush, has stated that schools should implement 'abstinence only' teaching programs to educate students to wait until marriage to engage in sexual activity. However, there is a small amount of statistical data and positive results documented to support this intervention about sexual health. Is it truly the most effective way to prevent students from participating in sexual activities before marriage? The reality is that in 2002, "the proportion of never-married females aged 15-19 who had ever had sexual intercourse was 46 percent." (Center for Disease Control, 2). This is an astounding number and it certainly seems that an abstinence only approach is not effective.

I believe that the abstinence-only program sets non-realistic goals that are almost never met. Also, a majority of them do not provide education on contraceptive use, abortion, or sexuality. These are essential factors that students want to know more about and need to know. Perhaps the most outrageous comment about why abstinence programs should be used states that, "Sexual abstinence could protect you from being victimized or manipulated by older boys to engage in sex." (Zanis, 59). In other words, they are saying that if the students are educated to not engage in sexual activity at all before marriage, that girls will not be as easily manipulated by older boys. Also, another interpretation could be stated that older boys would possibly not victimize younger girls because they will know not to have sexual relations before marriage. This whole idea is ridiculous and impractical. Of course women can protect themselves from being victimized by practicing certain safety measures such as not walking alone at night. However, if they are practicing abstinence truly does not effect whether or not they will be victimized. Also, manipulation from older boys can be prevented as well by focusing on social and psychological perspectives from the girls to improve their self-esteem and educate them on sexual health focusing on all aspects of prevention.

A much more effective program that should be implemented in all schools should include the teaching methods of birth control, options dealing with pregnancy, and disease-prevention methods. "Effective sexual health education provides opportunities for individuals to explore the attitudes, feelings, values and moral perspectives that may influence their own choices regarding sexual health." (McKay, 131). Looking at the alarming statistics about how many young people engage in sexual intercourse, it is essential to educate about birth control methods.

By teaching birth control, we are not promoting or encouraging young people to engage in sexual intercourse. This is a common misconception that a lot of the general public believes. In fact, we are reducing the amount of unwanted pregnancies and decreasing the rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections. It was stated that, "Common efforts have included promoting contraceptive use. Although in some communities this practice is viewed as controversial, several studies have found it to be successful in reducing rates of sexual initiation and increasing contraceptive use among teenagers." (Santelli, 445). Students are only gaining knowledge on how to protect themselves; it has not been shown to promote sexual activity.

It was found that in abstinence based programs; a majority of the younger kids were not using protection when they engaged in their first sexual activity. This was probably due to them having the state of mind that their partner had abstained as well. Also, they were not educated on other methods of transmitting an STD from other practices such as oral sex and how they can prevent the transmission by using barrier methods. Why? Because they were never educated on all the different prophylactics that are available to them. McKay states that, "Abstinence-only sex education programs are deficient because they do not provide students with the opportunity to learn the necessary information and skills to reduce the risks of sexual activity if they choose to be sexually active now or in the future." I believe that this is the most important factor that should be noted because they are not learning the 'necessary information and skills' to decrease the rate of infection and conception. Also, in support it was documented that "This type of education presents marriage as the only morally acceptable context for sexual activity, emphasizes abstinence from all sexual behavior until marriage and does not teach contraceptive use or disease-prevention methods. Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs presently enjoy substantial economic and political support, but evidence of effectiveness of this approach is scarce." (Goodson, 94). By having children believe that marriage is the only morally acceptable context for sexual activity, they will have the state of mind that people who do engage in sexual activity before marriage are doing something very wrong and may pass judgment on them. When children are growing up, we teach them not to pass judgment or have any type of bias towards others, especially their peers.

A dominant statement includes that; 'Instructors' approach to teaching about methods is a very powerful indicator of the content of sex education. Given the well-documented relationship between what teenagers learn about safer sexual behavior and their use of methods when they initiate sexual activity, sex education in all U.S. high schools should include accurate information about condoms and other contraceptives." (Landry, 267). I believe that parents should be educated as well about these findings because maybe they would have a better understanding that their children will learn about sexual activities in some way. All students hear about sexual activity through their friends and peers. Isn't it a smarter choice to educate them about sexuality and the correct use of contraceptives in order for them to make the safest decision when they do participate in sexual activities?

I believe that when speaking about contraceptive use and that it should be taught in schools, we are practicing informed consent. Informed consent is an ethical principle that 'relates to a process by which patients are informed



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