The growing need for sex education…
In the United States, there are a number of topics that become heated debate. Some of these are perfectly reasonable, such as whether or not the country should spend tax dollars on subsidizing oil or agriculture. Others, such as climate change or sex education are only up for debate because certain companies profit off of people thinking it doesn’t exist.
Many people want to argue that sex education should be up to the parent. Other people argue that the only sex education teenagers should get is abstinence only education. After all, teenagers shouldn’t be having sex, so all they should know is that they shouldn’t be having sex. Unfortunately, most of these arguments are based on personal opinions, and the facts don’t support them.
“The Parents Should Teach Their Kids”
One of the principle reasons people give for not wanting school taught sex education is that they believe that parents should be the one to teach their children about sex. After all, different religious beliefs have different rules regarding sex, and it’s only appropriate that parents get to ensure their children learn their beliefs.
However, studies have shown that parents are unlikely to speak to their children about sex education. What’s more, there are studies that indicate as many as 1 in 8 16 year olds have a sexual secret that they’re keeping from their parents. That number is a bit disturbing. It could mean that your teen is having sex, but don’t feel comfortable talking to you about it. If you haven’t already taught them about sex by that point, then you don’t know if they’re making responsible sexual choices.
If there’s a public school curriculum, then the parents don’t have to worry about whether or not their child is safe. Their child has access to the information that will keep them as safe as possible, even if they do decide to disobey your family rules. After all, even good children break the rules on occasion. Since you can’t force 100% compliance from your teen, the least you can do is ensure they have the tools and the knowledge to keep themselves safe when they mess up.
“Sex Education Makes Kids Have Sex!”
Another constant fear of people against public sex education is the idea that teaching kids about sex will cause them to have sex. After all, if they don’t know what sex is, then they won’t be able to have sex. And the only thing sex education would do is tell them that sex exists.
It seems like a simple concept, but the real truth is more complicated than that. The simple fact is that kids learn about sex from a very young age. Sex is such a large part of our media and our culture that it’s impossible for kids to have no idea what it is.
The facts are that 32.8% of teens in the 9th grade have reported having sex. That’s a huge number of teenagers.
The facts are fairly plain. It’s not possible for parents to keep their kids from learning about sex. The only answer is to ensure your child knows how to keep themselves safe and protected.
“Abstinence Only Sex Education Works Better”
Some people want the government to fund abstinence only sex education. This style of sex education focuses heavily on the idea that the only safe sex is no sex, and that sex should only occur between two married people. They feel that this style of sex education helps ensure their children won’t have sex at all.
This is completely incorrect. All studies show that abstinence only sex education not only fails to work, but actually makes teenagers more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. Study after study has shown that teens engaged in abstinence only sex education are just as likely, if not more likely, to have sex.
According to a 2004 report from the Government Reform Committee, as many as 11 out of 13 standard abstinence only sex education curriculum contained misleading or outright incorrect information. Some of this information was impressively incorrect, such as the idea that HIV can be spread from sweat and tears.
Since abstinence only sex education contains misinformation and lies about things such as condom use and other birth control methods, and the actual chances of pregnancy and how risky certain forms of sex can be, teenagers are unlikely to take any of the information seriously. Or even worse, they’ll presume that not using protection is just as good as using protection.
The Choice Is Clear
If you want your teenager to be safe, then you need to have comprehensive sex education. Study after study has shown that without it, teen pregnancy and STI rates skyrocket. It may make you feel good to think that your teenager would never engage in risky behavior, but it will be better for both you and your teen if you make sure they know how to protect themselves, just in case.