Sex education is an important aspect for adolescents and crucial for their development. It is crucial for youths to learn about their sexuality and be able to make better decisions about sex. The sources confirmed that the topic of sex education is a highly debated when it comes to whether or not sex education should be added to the curriculum that is taught in schools. The controversy stems from parents that oppose sex education in schools due to their religious or personal opinions. According to the CDC there has been a decline in teen pregnancy due to the efforts towards prevention of pregnancy and STDs. The United States has the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy among developed countries, (Carter, 2012).
Studies will show that teen pregnancy, STDs, and the initiation of sex remain a risk and controversial topic in the United States and that teens is less likely to become pregnant if they receive some type of comprehensive sex education compared teens that received no sex education, (Kohler et al., 2008). Sex education is not only about giving youths the facts, it is about teaching young people knowledge they can to use to live a safe and healthier life.
Importance of Sex Education
The lack of adolescents sexual knowledge during an adolescent multiple developmental changes, can increase their use of self selected media, abstract thinking, or increase time spent with peers. It has been found of students in their first year at least 56 percent have experience genital fondling, (Byers et al., 2011). Adolescents’ sexuality becomes prominent and their sexual feelings and interest is heightened during their middle school years, including their opportunity for sexual exploration and sexual knowledge. A study shows that before a girl 20th birthday that three out of ten girls will at least become pregnant one time. A survey done by the Center of Disease Control in 2011 indicated that among high school students that over 47 percent of them have already had sex and at least 15 percent of students have had sex with four or more different partners, (Institute, 2014).
Between 1995 and 2002 there was a major decline of about 86% in teen pregnancy rate due to the dramatic improvements in teens using contraception’s and the decreased in sexual activity.owe Providing adolescents with skill and knowledge is a human right and helps improve their sexual health, even though some suggest that sex education increases sexual activity, (Ross, 2008).
Review of Literature
There has been a continued debate about how sex education is taught. Controversy stems from parents that oppose sex education in schools due to their religious or personal opinions. A study that was recently done showed teens that received parental guidance from their parents about sex, STDs, and birth control was more likely to use protection than the teens that had not talked frequently about sex with their parents. Some sources dispute the fact that sex education provokes youths into having sex once schools begin teaching sex education. The topic of sex is barely discussed with parents and adolescents feel sexual topics have little importance to their parents compared to a parent perception. Communication between youth and parents can help the youths to make healthy decisions. Parents sometimes find it difficult to communicate with their youths about topics they wants to know about, including abstinence and how to prevent STDs and HIV, (Whittaker, 2009).
Depending on the content, it’s harder to assess teenager’s behavior when it comes to sex education, which can lead to risky behavior among sexually experienced teenagers. Parent’s communication about sex education is delayed when it comes to sexual initiation and birth control methods. Adolescents should be educated on a wide range of sexual topics according to teachers, high school students, and parents by middle school or earlier. Sex education in home or school is important for adolescents and crucial for their development, (Martinez et al., 2010). A study on sexual health education shows that students believe that comprehensive school based sexual health education is important and has positive views than the sex education they receive from their parents. Some studies show that the comprehensive sex education provides a higher quality and is more comfortable for students to frequently ask questions, (Byers et al., 2011).
There was a study conducted by the Ripple trial that shows that effectiveness of a long term evaluation about peer led sex education programs compared to the teacher led sex education programs. Out of twenty seven secondary schools randomly selected, studies shows that among students the peer led programs were more popular than the teacher led programs, (Ross, 2008). There have been little epidemiologic evaluations done on a population level that shows the effectiveness of these programs, despite a few systematic reviews, (Kohler et al., 2008). The rate of teen pregnancy in the United States is still higher than it is in Europe even though with comprehensive sex education in the states has a lower teen pregnancy rate. Data has suggested that the formal comprehensive sex education programs help reduce the risk for unplanned pregnancy without provoking youths to engage in sex. Randomized results confirm that abstinence only programs have very little effect on risky sexual behavior, (Kohler et al., 2008). Sex education is widely implemented even though that there is evidence of weakness of the effectiveness of sex education.
Abortion and pregnancy have been mostly depended on studies on self reported behavioral outcomes, (Ross, 2008). According to the authors of,” Demographic differences in adolescents’ sexual attitudes and behaviors, parent communication about sex, and school sex education”, (2011) the most important demographic variables that are influencing risky sexual behaviors is the maturity levels of the adolescents. The older adolescents seem to have a promiscuous attitude about sex and receive more sexual communication proving that age is a major factor when it comes to adolescent sexual behavior. This study was to show the demographic differences and similarities that dealt with gender and age that affect adolescent sexual behaviors. The research confirms that the gender differences in adolescent sexual behavior and a heterosexual male will engage more regularly in sexual behaviors than heterosexual females.
Adolescent males seem to engage in inconsistent condom use and many short-term monogamous relationships than females, (Anagurthi et al., 2011). Adolescents’ sexual behaviors and sexual behavior patterns for gender and age are clear but vary when it comes to ethnicity. Studies done by authors, (Anagurthi et al., 2011) suggests that African American adolescents have more sex at an early age than the Caucasian adolescents and have more sex partners than any other racial minority. Research done on African American college students in the United States focused on sexually transmitted diseases, sexual decision making, teen pregnancy, and sexual experiences from living in poor urban areas. Factors such as religion, parents’ involvement, and education had a part in influencing African American sexual decision making, (Barnes et al., 2010). HIV/AIDS cases among African American females show a disproportionate percentage according to the CDC in 2004. African American females with HIV/AIDS are sometimes treated in biased ways by society along with limited healthcare.
The fact still remains that premarital sexual activities among youths are growing along with the epidemic of HIV/AIDS. Roughly every year in the United States, there are at least nine million new cases of STDs reported among young adults and teens, (Institute, 2012). A study reported by Alexandra McManus and Lipi Dhar shows that the increased rates of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and STI’s (Sexually Transmitted Infections) was caused by the risky sexual behavior of youths and biological factors. The report showed that 32 percent of the cases of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) were among young people between the ages of 15-29 and twice as much among young women, (McManus et al., 2008). Alarming proportions estimated that there are about 3 percent of people living in the United States among the 35 million people living with HIV worldwide and the population that are vulnerable continue to be young adults.
A study done among college students suggest for prevention against STDs and HIV/AIDS there are two important aspects, a monogamous relationship along with correct and consistent condom use, (Kanekar et al., 2010). Out of the 48 states that have the sex education policies and laws, there were studies done to determine and analyze the extent that states focus on abstinence as part of their sex education program, (Carter, 2012). The CDC officials from the Center for Disease Control states that there has been a decline of teen births due to the pregnancy prevention efforts since they began tracking in the 1940’s. Reports also show that abstinence only programs had little impact on teen pregnancy and that sixty percent of teens that received some type of comprehensive sex education would less likely to get someone pregnant or become pregnant, (Beadle, 2012).
It is important for states to work toward training teachers and reducing the high rates of teen pregnancy by teaching comprehensive sex education in schools and for teens to learn safe sex practices, human reproduction, prevention of sexual transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, as well the right time to learn sex education, (Stranger-Hall et al., 2011). The United States policies and laws can only provide guidelines for school boards that do decide to teach sex education and is not really required to teach STD and sex education. The states that don’t have sex education laws have some type of policy that deal with STD and HIV education, (Stranger-Hall et al., 2011). Due to the problem that researchers have gaining access to students and schools, the public will never know what is being taught in sex education in the classrooms. The insight into how policies on sex education affect students in private and public schools in the United States is due to social inequality and sex education, (Kendall, 2010).
Sex education in schools can play a major developmental role towards sexual behaviors and attitudes for adolescents even though the context of the adolescents developmental comes primary from the parents. Schools can help promote safe sex and healthy sexual development for the adolescents that are already sexually active There were an increase in school performance and attachment to schools, reduce in risky sexual behaviors and sexual attitudes, and a decrease in school dropout rates due to the effectiveness of some of the school programs in a review that was done on over 60 studies. Other studies that indicated that sex education programs had no effect toward sex before marriage among adolescents or how frequent they engaged in sex. Unprepared adolescents with sexual behavior can become vulnerable to emotional problems and stress. A continue effort on sex education programs is important to help focus on which features of the programs that can effectively help reduce risky sexual behavior, (Anagurthi et al., 2011).
The family planning advocates and health educators indicated that the web would be a good and accurate source for teens that are looking for information about sexuality topics and contraception when other sensitive may be limited. The availability of the web and the use of multimedia for teenagers have led to the discussion by the author, Freya Lund Sonenstein (2012) on whether the information on the web dealing with sexual topics needs to be more accurate and complete. Providing sex education and information about contraception is prohibited in public schools in many states. The indication is that the web cannot replace life skills that schools and family can teach on sexually transmitted diseases and prevention of unplanned pregnancy, (Sonenstein, 2012).
Teenagers spend less time on the internet than the older populations searching health information and visiting health information sites. In the United States qualitative data indicated that teens doesn’t trust the sexual health information on the web. The rate of teen pregnancy and sexual transmitted diseases does not decrease by sheltering adolescents from sex education but instead it increases the chance of unprotected sex. Even though the internet is capable of providing information on prevention of teen pregnancy and STDs, teenagers seems to be cautious about the sexual health information on the web and do not rely on it, (Sonenstein, 2012).
Explicit sexual activities and messages can be confusing for adolescents and school-age children and can be detrimental to their well-being and health. Katherine Bowman and Lynn Rew discuss in their article Protecting Youth from Early and Abusive Sexual Experiences (2008), about the many American children that are at risk of abusive sexual experiences and how nurses can provide guidance to assist children in protecting themselves. Our nation is second in the industrialized world for sexual transmitted diseases and adolescent pregnancy that is contributed to the conflicting information about sexuality, (Bowman et al., 2008).
While our American children and adolescents are being exposed to real life experiences, conflicting messages on sexual values and behavior, and sexually explicit media, many are still being prevented from receiving sex education in school. Sexual abuse in the United States among adolescents and children are experienced within the home and within the community including schools and churches. One type of sexual abuse sometimes involves children of the same age being forced to engage in sexual acts. According to Katherine Bowman and Lynn Rew (2008) sexually abused children will likely experience vulnerability to more sexual victimization during their adolescent years.
Increasing children knowledge about human sexuality can help protect adolescents and children. When children do not receive answers to questions concerning sex, they can be forced to access the internet or turn to their friends. Sex education along with parents, schools, and community health can focus on methods that can help children and adolescents avoid STDs and teen pregnancy. Because of the positions that community and public health nurses have, they are able to implement a plan through the community programs that can help protect children against the risk of sexual abuse and early sexual experiences, (Bowman et al., 2008). Programs such as youth development, curricular sex education, and HIV and puberty need to be implemented in schools. Ethnicity and gender differences should not be ignored.
Adolescents are trying to find ways to understand their own sexual identities, feel good about their decision making, and becoming young adults. A lot of work needs to be done in order for the internet to be a vehicle for educating teenagers on complete and accurate information about contraceptive options. Sites with search engine problems and that are committed to helping teenagers make inform choices need to address the issues so that the teenagers that are motivated can access the sites readily when seeking health information, (Sonenstein, 2012). This issue is evident and important in helping adolescents gain knowledge on sex education.
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