Sex Education And The Classroom
In today’s society there is an on going debate over sex education and its influence on our children. “The question is no longer should sex education be taught, but rather how it should be taught” (DeCarlo). With teenage pregnancy rates higher than ever and the imminent threat of the contraction of STD’s, such as HIV, the role of sex education in the school is of greater importance now then ever before. By denying children sex education you are in a sense sheltering them from the harsh realities they are bound to encounter. Sex education has become an essential part of the curriculum and by removing the information provided by this class we’ll be voluntarily putting our children in danger.
During the teenage years every boy and girl undergo major changes in the body that most of the time need explaining. This underscores one of the most evident reasons for sexual education being taught to students. Sex education can help children to cope with the many changes caused by the onset of puberty. One such example is a female’s first menstruation and the uneasiness they feel. If this girl had been informed of this change prior to its onset, then her ability to accept and understand it would be greatly enhanced. Hormonal and physical changes in the body begin without warning and a child needs to know why these changes are occurring.
Students are taught about the anatomy of the human body and how and why it works the way it does. Knowing and understanding how ones body works is a fundamental part any person’s life and ability to gain this knowledge should not be removed.
At the beginning of puberty hormones start rushing and all teenagers begin to experience sexual urges. It’s not something anyone, including a parent or teacher, can control. It’s a natural function of the body and has been since the beginning of time. With this hormone rush comes experimentation among teenagers. They begin to explore their bodies along with the bodies of other people. “You can’t prevent teenagers from having sex, no matter what you preach. If students are having sex they might as well do it the safe way. It’s a way for schools to show that they actually care,” says Shauna Ling-Choung (qt. Richardson “When sex_” B1). Students need the support from schools to know they have somewhere to go for the good or bad. With sex education classes the students are taught about various methods of contraception, including abstinence. By teaching the students about the many types of contraception, the chance of contraceptives being used is greatly increased. Many schools have recently begun programs to distribute condoms to students in their schools in order to hopefully increase the use of condoms. A recent study shows that the availability of condoms in schools did in fact increase condom use. Condom access is a “low-cost harmless addition” to our current sex education programs (Richardson “Condoms in_” B8). When thinking of sex education for our children, the clich? “better safe than sorry” should immediately come to mind.
Along with teaching contraceptives to students the vital information of STD’s are also taught. Currently, out of all age groups, teenagers have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases, with one in four young people contracting and STD by the age of twenty-one (DeCarlo). Included in the STD category is the HIV virus, which is spreading at alarming rates among our teenage population. “It is believed that at least twenty percent of new patients with AIDS were infected during their teenage or early adult years.” And still some school leaders are trying to remove our best means of prevention of the disease: sex education (Roye 581) Teachers are able to educate students with the correct information on the many types of sexually transmitted diseases that exist in the world today. False information about ways of contracting diseases, symptoms of and treatments of STDs, and preventative measures are weeded out and students receive the accurate information about sexually transmitted diseases. Protection of our children from sexually transmitted diseases should start in the classroom where it can be assured that the correct and critical information will be provided to them.
Nobody likes to be talked to like they are a child, and by denying teenagers sexual education, schools are in a sense talking down to them. By teaching them the facts about sex, teenagers feel a sense of maturity because it’s a mature topic and they are fully aware of that. Students get the feeling that the adults in their lives feel that they are responsible enough to learn about this topic. Therefore bringing on more of a response from teenagers. They know they are being treated as adults so they are going to pay attention to what they are being taught and then act as adults and carry out what they were taught. Teenagers appreciate when adults treat them as equals, and anyone will see that children will always respond better to this than to being treated as a child.
Much of the typical family structure in the United States and many other places in the world have deteriorated over the last century. A good portion of parents today are divorced and many of the families that haven’t experienced divorce live with both parents working full time jobs. Families today aren’t like the family on “Leave It to Beaver,” a sitcom that aired in the sixties; the mother isn’t home all day baking and making sure that the house is clean. Since family structure has changed, so have the way children are being raised. Society cannot count on all parents to instill morals into their children and teach them the facts of life or even the difference between right and wrong these days. Parents just don’t have the time for it. Recently the Vatican released a document stating that” parents alone cannot give children the positive sex education they need to develop healthy attitudes towards sex” (Euchner). Another view on the subject taken by the Nebraska Public School system is that sex education in today’s society is to complicated to be left to “the varying influences of parental attitudes and haphazard environmental exposure” (Chaumont et al.). Besides, even if the parent were around more often then not, the chances of a child approaching their parent about the “bird and the bees” is very unlikely. These children need to have a place were the information on this touchy subject is provided to them without them needing to ask. “Kids don’t go asking their parents, this is the only way for them to find out answers because they are to embarrassed to ask anyone else,” says Pallodino, and eighteen-year-old from Virginia. (O’Hanlon B8). In order for children to grow up with the correct information regarding sex, it is necessary to have sex education provided to them in schools.
Even though sex education seems as if it can do no wrong, there still remain many opponents, including many authors who clearly express their view, that are still against it in our schools. There are many reasons why people feel like this, two of which are they feel as if sex education does no good at all and another is that people feel that it is influencing students to have sex. Ellen Hopkins, author of “Sex is for Adults”, says that sex education does many great things, except for the one thing we want it to do, make our children more responsible. (Hopkins 589). She feels as though the information that students are receiving is not having any influence on them. The feeling that sex education classes are influencing teenagers to have sex is a feeling that is shared by William Kilpatrick. He states that “as the statistics show, American teenagers are living up to expectation. They are having more sex and using more condoms” (Kilpatrick 597). These two individuals, along with many others, feel that sex education is doing more harm then it is good.
Teenage sexual activity has been raising steadily for more than two decades until now. A recent survey shows the first drop since the nineteen seventies. In 1990 girls that had engaged in sexual intercourse was at fifty-five percent, until 1995 when it dropped to fifty percent. The percentage of boys engaging in sexual intercourse also dropped by five percent. The use of condoms have tripled since the 1970’s showing people are being safer about sex (Vobejda et al. A1). A poll done by Reuter’s show that eighty-two percent of the people who participated in the survey supported sex education in schools (Yahoo). Studies obviously show that sex education courses are helping today’s teenagers to become more responsible for their own actions.
The information that sex education provides teenagers is indispensable. Schools are meant to educate our children in not just one topic but all topics. “Why would anyone on the state Board of Education not want to cover something comprehensively? Do we take that approach with history or math?” says Denice Bruce of Wichita, Kansas (Associated Press). Sexually educating our children is just important if not more important than math or history because sex education can mean the difference between life and death of your child.