Sexual risk taking among young adults exemplifies a significant public health problem in our society. Without being educated properly about their natural desires, juveniles are unable to make mature decisions about their sexual activity. Comprehensive sex education in school systems would greatly help to prevent the spreading of diseases and pregnancies by informing students about the possible risks of having sex and ways to keep themselves and their partner safe. A curriculum involving sex education would help by promoting knowledge about normal human development and reproduction, as well as making students aware of the possible consequences of sexual activity and how to avoid these risks so that they can make more informed decisions about activities that can affect the rest of their lives. Sex is a sensitive topic that often causes embarrassment and discomfort when discussed, especially to minors.
While some parents are in denial about their children learning about sex at an early age, it is practically inevitable. Some people argue that introducing children to sex at an early age encourages them to partake in the activity. However, sex is not a recent idea to adolescences due to frequent exposure of glorified sexual imagery on a regular basis. Young children these days are being exposed to mixed and unrealistic messages everywhere they look. This carefree exposure can greatly distort perceptions of the reality of sex and the risk behavior behind it. From video games to movies to music, children are bombarded with promiscuous attitudes and crude imagery everywhere they look. By offering a sex education class, our youth would have the opportunity to receive knowledge and to openly communicate their concerns to receive accurate, realistic answers from someone who is trained. Based on the soaring number of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, there is an obvious need for sex education.
Young mothers have become commonplace in our society. My mother gave birth to me when she was only seventeen years old, and she too experienced the difficulty of teenage pregnancy. In my school system, we did not receive any type of sexual education, which is quite obvious based on our teenage pregnancy rate. When I was in seventh grade, I knew of several girls who bragged about having sex; most of those girls now have a child. In my class alone, there were at least fifteen girls that got pregnant before graduation and I lived in a very small town. This alone demonstrates an immense urgency for a sex education program. Many teens end up getting pregnant due to misconception about sexual intercourse. For example, take a girl I know who is now fifteen years old. She gave birth at the age of fourteen, not long after she began puberty. Her mother did not discuss sex with her because she feared that it would be uncomfortable and that she would learn the essentials from other sources.
She also did not receive any sort of proper sexual education at her school. After having a boyfriend for a couple months, they decided to have sex and she got pregnant. They thought that you could not get pregnant the first time and neither of them knew how to properly use a condom. When she told him she was pregnant, he no longer wanted anything to do with her or the life that he had helped to create. Her life was over at fourteen years. She had the baby, dropped out of school, and became a single mother who is dependent on welfare checks and food stamps from the government. Now, she is just another statistic that people shake their heads in disapproval of. There are many cases of girls all over the United States such as the one I just described. They have so much potential for the future, but their chances are ruined, or lessened, at least, simply by a lack of basic knowledge about their body. Myths and rumors about sex are widespread and commonly accepted as fact by students.
Sex is a healthy part of life and children should be fully educated about their bodies. Minors need to be informed about their options, such as birth control pills, condoms, and abstinence. Adolescents will most likely have sex whether they are properly educated on the matter or not. It is only logical to offer as much reliable information to them as possible. I learned about sex at a very young age, mostly from my friends at school during lunch. As a part of the public school system, sex was discussed between my classmates quite frequently. Although the topic would make most of us blush and giggle nervously, we were all very curious about what the big deal was. We’d discuss what we had heard about sex from others and shared our “facts” to one another. At one point in my life, I honestly thought that sex was two naked people kissing, and that you only did it once to make a baby. I also remember hearing that you can’t get pregnant if you have sex in a pool.
I know that this is a ridiculous statement now, but some of my friends actually believed this. Receiving such ludicrous information left me with an incredibly fallacious view of sex from early on, as it does for most children. School is designed to provide knowledge to prepare children to succeed in life outside of school. Sex and the human body are subjects that are very much pertinent to human life, perhaps more so than other subjects being taught in schools. Although basic sex education starts in the home and should be in conjunction with sex education at school, there are aspects of sexuality that many young adults simply do not feel comfortable discussing with their parents. Because school is such a large part of a teenager’s life, it is a reasonable place to provide them with essential information about their sexuality.
Adolescents deserve to have a safe, unbiased place to turn to for advice and accurate answers to their questions. Parental support for school-based sex education is overwhelmingly positive. “A 2004 survey conducted by National Public Radio, the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Kennedy School of Government documented that more than 90 percent of parents support sexuality education in our schools.” (“Planned Parenthood” 10). A majority of parents are supportive of offering sex education in schools. “Parents see such courses and content as supplementing, not supplanting, their discussions at home. They say that their children need both to be taught about delaying the onset of intimate sexual relationships until they are mature and responsible and also given the information and skills they need to use condoms and contraception when they do choose to become sexually active.” (Huberman 1).
Although some parents agree that children should learn about sex at home, many of them are simply not willing to take the extra time or to bear the discomfort to elaborate on necessary details. Adolescents are also hesitant to listen or ask questions for fear of shame or guilt from their guardian, which I know from first-hand experience. Children need a safe outlet to effectively explore their confusing thoughts and questions about sex. In a perfect world, children would wait until they fall in love and get married to have sex for the first time. However, that is not the case and the reality of the situation is that children are engaging in sexual activity younger and younger. Offering a sex education class would give a person the opportunity to learn and ask questions about their natural sexual urges from a trusted source with reliable information, rather than receiving deceptive information from their peers.
A sex education program could offer many positive components to a child’s development, such as encouraging youth to discuss sex with their guardian, promoting gender equality, offering information from factual sources instead of personal opinions, and including skills for decision making and resisting pressure. It would also be a sensible place to discuss sexual abuse and offering counseling where it is needed. The chosen curriculum would be taught by knowledgeable, well-trained educators and students would be able to ask questions to receive dependable answers. Our youth is currently not receiving the proper information they need to protect themselves. If children are provided with accurate information in school they will be equipped with the tools to make sensible, healthy decisions. Within safe sex education courses, one learns how to go about having sex in a way that is as safe as possible.
Students would be educated about being tested and choosing their partner wisely, along with various forms of contraception. Offering such classes is a positive addendum to the task of educating our nation’s children about their natural impulses and desires and to provide them with ways to protect themselves from the possible consequences of sex. Without proper guidance, children will make reckless decisions that will affect the rest of their life. When we observe teen pregnancy rates, it only makes sense to have as much education as possible available. In 2011, 47% of high school students said that they had engaged in sexual intercourse. 55% of all pregnancies are unplanned and a majority of these cases describe young, unmarried women. Contraceptive use is quite irregular according to the data presented.
Currently, about 1/3 of teens are sexually active, and less than 2/3 of these teens use any form of birth control (“The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy” 1-3). A problem that is even more worrisome is the increasing amount of sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs. The rate of STDs in teenagers is becoming frighteningly epidemic. The reality is that STDs are a growing problem among teens and young adults in the United States due to a lack of knowledge about protection. One in two sexually active persons will contact an STD/STI by age 25 (Cates et al. 8). Approximately 9.5 million new STD infections occur every year in young people between the ages of 15 and 24. Statistics show that about 1 in 4 teenagers that engage in sexual activity will contract a sexually transmitted disease by the time they reach adulthood (Martinez 3).
These numbers are alarming to say the least, and demonstrate an apparent necessity to further education about sex to teenagers and young adults. Studies show that teenagers who receive education about contraceptives are less likely to develop a sexually transmitted disease or to become pregnant. Research has identified that sexual education programs, along with STD prevention programs, have positive behavioral outcomes. Sex education programs have been successful in various settings, including schools and community centers. Based on a survey published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, “teens who received comprehensive sex education were 60 percent less likely to report becoming pregnant or impregnating someone than those who received no sex education” (Dotinga 6). Many programs have demonstrated reductions in sexual risk-taking behaviors among participants (Alford 53). It is necessary that our youth receives accurate knowledge about sex and the responsibilities behind it.
Sex is a healthy part of life and children should be fully knowledgeable about their bodies. If a child is introduced to sex at an early age, they would be encouraged to overcome the taboo feelings of guilt and shame from their natural urges, and instead be educated about the risks that are attached to having sex. Students would be more likely to make positive decisions when it comes to their sexual activity and their natural urges if they are informed about ways to efficiently protect themselves from the possible consequences of sex. A student can make a more cognizant choice about their sexual activity with knowledge of the dangers and the precautions they can take to avoid these hazards.
Alford, Sue. “Science and Success: Sex Education and Other Programs that Work to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, HIV & Sexually Transmitted Infections.” Washington, DC: Advocates for Youth, 2003. Web. 3 Oct 2012. <http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/storage/advfy/documents/sciencesuccess.pdf>. Cates, J. R., Herndon, N. L., Schulz, S. L., & Darroch, J. E. “Our Voices, Our Lives, Our Futures: Youth and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.” Chapel Hill, NC: School of Journalism and Mass Communication,
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