The Truth About Sex Education Among America’s Youth
The United States has unacceptably high rates of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV/AIDS infections. The great debate is what to teach America’s children and teens about sex. Abstinence only programs are vaguer on sexual activity whereas comprehensive sexual education is very open and detailed about sexuality. There are many researchers out there who will try and prove that each method is best when taught alone. During all of this debating children are left hanging in the balance.
Sexual education should not be teaching five year olds about masturbation, and the act of having sexual relations with another person. It should teach children that any sexual act should be restricted to husbands and wives. Children should know when and if sex is appropriate, but they don’t need to know how to use a condom or access birth control. Why would American’s even want to offer young children options on obtaining birth control without parental consent? The sad fact is that most parents are misinformed on what the public school system is teaching their children about sex. According to Kathleen Tsubata[co director of the Washington AIDS International Foundation] “It often is claimed that most parents want pro-contraceptive education for their children. In fact, a nationwide Zogby International poll of 1,245 parents in February  (see poll results at www.whatparentsthink.com) commissioned by the pro-abstinence Coalition for Adolescent Sexual Health found that when shown the actual content of both comprehensive and abstinence-only sex-education programs, 73 percent of parents supported abstinence education and 75 percent opposed the condom-based education, with 61 percent opposing the comprehensive sex education programs.”
Comprehensive sexual education claims to have a lot of the same benefits as abstinence education. They educate about sexually transmitted diseases, state that it helps children to improve self-esteem, and it help children to develop respect. What they fail to mention to parents is that they are going far beyond all of this.
Comprehensive sexual education promotes the use of contraception such as condoms and birth control, “Having multiple sexual partners is the No. 1 risk factor for contracting HIV and 19 percent of teens have had four or more sexual partners.”( Tsubata, “Abstinence-Only Programs Benefit Youths” article 26).
There are other standards set for comprehensive sexual education as well, according to Jerry Gramckow( a writer for Focus on The Family)”The Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education, from the Sexuality Information and Education Council for the United States call for the following instruction for children, starting in kindergarten:
Touching or rubbing one’s genitals to feel good is called masturbation.
Both boys and girls may discover their bodies feel good when touched.
STDs are usually acquired by teens and adults during sexual behavior or by sharing injecting drugs with an infected person.
Boys and girls are capable of more complete sexual stimulation during adolescence and afterward.
Sexual intercourse provides pleasure.
Some families and religions oppose masturbation.
Homosexual love relationships can be as fulfilling as heterosexual relationships.
This agency is NOT a government agency but they, boast that they have ‘distributed more than 20,000 copies of its guidelines to individuals and groups across the nation. Many people, community-based organizations, and educational systems have used the SIECUS guidelines.’ ”
Comprehensive sexual education also addresses condom use and birth control use among teens “Studies indicate that condoms, if used correctly and consistently, may lower the transmission rate to 15 to 25 percent. That’s not a fail-safe guarantee, as any condom manufacturer under litigation quickly would point out.” (Tsubata, “Abstinence-Only Programs Benefit Youths” article 26) Condoms can be a good way to reduce the spread of infectious diseases if they are used properly; however, this is hard to achieve among adults let alone a bunch of teenagers who are suffering from hormonal overdrive. It also comes down to decision making teenagers just don’t think like adults or make appropriate adult decisions. They are more likely to get caught up in the heat of the moment then face the embarrassment using a condom would cause.
Abstinence only sexual education programs state that abstinence is best for children and teens. It teaches children about responsibility and decision making. Children are taught that making the right decision to refrain from having sex is better than giving in to sex. Children are then left with healthy choices to feel good about and they are also left with information on how to build a long lasting healthy marriage.
Abstinence only programs are generally based on moral values and some people use their faith as a standard for teaching it. This type of education is what is expected from parents with moral values. Parents want their children taught what is right and not what they see as morally wrong and unethical. Teens are more likely to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy if they practice abstinence. According to Kathleen Tsubata(co director of the Washington AIDS International Foundation) a study of lowered teen-pregnancy rates between 1991 and 1995 (published in Adolescent and Family Health by Mohn, Tingle et al., April 2003) showed that abstinence, not contraceptives, was the major cause of the lowered pregnancy rate. Another 1996 study, by John Vessey, of Northwestern University Medical School, followed up on 2,541 teens, ages 13 to 16, which completed an abstinence-education program. He reported that one year after completing the program, 54 percent of formerly sexually active teens no longer were sexually active. This puts to rest the idea that “once a teen has sex, they will continue to be sexually active.”
Abstinence only will help children to not only abstain from sex but from other things as well. “Abstinence isn’t a vague ideal but a practical, feasible life skill. Studies show that children who are able to say no to sex also can say no to drugs, alcohol and tobacco. The skills in one area automatically transfer to other areas of health. Learning to delay gratification can have positive impacts on academic goals and athletic accomplishments”(Tsubata, “Abstinence-Only Programs Benefit Youths” article 26).
When children and teens actively practice abstinence they are more confident and free to enjoy the process of making friends. They are also able to concentrate more on developing their own individuality, and working on their dreams. This helps children with self improvement by improving self esteem, academic achievements, and future careers. Abstinence only equips teens with lifelong skills by providing them with important tools they will use throughout their lives. In the end these teens are set up to have a better understanding of family life and marriage.
Abstinence only programs can also help to prevent emotional problems in teens. Teens are less likely to suffer from anxiety, guilt, depression, lack of self-esteem, and lack of self confidence due to engaging in sex. In the end abstinence only speaks for itself by protecting America’s youth instead of submerging them into an unknown realm of sexual deviancies.