Sex Education Being Taught In Schools Effects

Introduction

Sex Education refers to the teaching of various aspects of human sexual behavior to people of different calibers. It may be taught in formal or informal platforms like school programs, public health programs, seminars and workshops or by parents, friends or religious leaders, advice columnists and sex education internet websites. Topics mainly discussed in sex education include the human reproductive health, sexual reproduction and anatomy, emotional relations and their relation to sexual activities as well as different ways of practicing responsible sexual behavior such as abstinence and safe sex (McKeone para. 6).

Formal sex education in the United States as found in junior high or high schools is at times taught as one of the curriculum subjects or as a unit within a subject such as biology, physical education or health class. There are some schools which do not offer sex education due to the level of controversy surrounding issues such as the right age at which sex education should begin and how much information should be revealed to the students. Because of this, there are two forms of sex education carried out in United States schools, Comprehensive Sex Education and Abstinence Only Sex Education thereby producing mixed results.

Statement of the Problem

Sex education is a very important aspect of human life as it is through it that people acquire knowledge and advice about how they can deal with different aspects of their life that concern sexuality. Whether or not sexual education should be taught in schools in the United States has always elicited a variety of reactions with some people being of the opinion that sex education should be conducted at home by parents since the kind of education offered in school programs encourages sexual activity as opposed to discouraging it since its emphasis is not on abstinence. But with the increasing incidences of teenage pregnancies, abortions, miscarriages, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS it is imperative that something be done about educating teenagers on sex related issues and the school would provide a viable platform for sex education since it is where most of these teenagers are found.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to determine the effect that sex education as carried out in schools in the United states has had on areas such as teenage pregnancies, occurrence of Sexually Transmitted Diseases among teenagers, the number of teenage abortions and miscarriages as well as HIV/AIDS among school going teenagers.

Effects of Sex Education Being Taught in Schools

Teenage Pregnancies and Abortions

Studies carried out in the United States showed that as of 2005, the rate of teenage pregnancies reported an all time low but come 2006, the rate went up by three percent to an aggregate rate of 71.5% which represents 750,000 women below the age of twenty (Guttmacher Institute 2). The abortion rate among teenagers in the same age group was 19.3% showing a one percent increase. According to an analysis carried out by Kohler and his colleagues, they found out that teenage pregnancies were found to be less in teenagers who had comprehensive sex education as opposed to those who had no sex education or had received abstinence only sex education. They used data from the National Survey of Family Growth of 2002 (Constantine para 4). From the studies conducted cases of teenage pregnancies have actually risen despite the presence of sex education programs. This might be an indication that the programs are not achieving the required result meaning that a lot more needs to be done in order to ensure that the number of teenage pregnancies go down as this is the desired result and it is the reason for which such programs were introduced in the first place. If teenage pregnancies are reduced then the number of teenage abortions will also go down.

STDs, STIs and HIV/AIDS

According to statistic released by the Kaiser Family Foundation (2) teenagers engaging in sexual activities are at a higher risk of contracting Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV/AIDS. They say that for teenagers between the age of fifteen and twenty four, one in every four contracts STDs every year (Kaiser Family Foundation para. 5). The most common STDs have been found to be Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. They also report that according to studies conducted by the United States Centre for Disease Control in thirty five areas in the country in 2004 showed that eighteen thousand teenagers aged between thirteen and twenty four were found to be living with HIV/AIDS. Most of them were girl teenagers. According to Pardini, experts say that the abstinence only sex education program does not work and according to studies carried out by the Alan Guttmacher Institute teenagers who have undergone this kind of sex education are at a greater risk of contracting STDs and getting pregnant in their early teen years due to the lack of accurate information on how to protect themselves (para 21).

Impact of Information

Sex education being offered in schools has paved way for the acquisition of information by students concerning the major sex issues and those who take it seriously are able to make more informed decisions. According to Fox and Briand, research shows that comprehensive sex education and HIV/AIDS programs have had an effect on the behavior of teenagers due to the availability of information. Some of these effects have been delayed initiation into sex and sexual related activities, general reduction on irresponsible behavior such as frequent changes in sexual partners and engaging in unprotected sex (Bruess and Greenberg 279). It has led to an increase in the use of protection and contraceptives among teenagers engaging in sexual behavior (para 1-5).

Future Research

Future research should focus on establishing whether there is a direct relationship between formal sex education and the rate of teenage pregnancies, STDs, HIV/AIDS and teenage abortions. It should also focus on showing the disparity between effects of comprehensive sex education and abstinence only sex education.

Implications of Research

Research enables those conduction it to come up with information that enables them to come up with conclusions that enable those who use such information to find out what the problems are and how they can be dealt with. In this case, it shows the ineffectiveness of the abstinence only sex education problem and the implications of the comprehensive sex education program and thus this information can be used to come up with better policies regarding sex education. Researchers can also use this information to determine the scope of the research conducted and come up with new research question to further the research and avoid duplication of research.

Conclusion

Sex education is necessary in schools as most of the teenagers who engage in unhealthy sexual behavior and the unwarranted consequences do so due to lack of information or availability of minimal censored information which ends up being ineffective to the general purpose of the education which is to minimize occurrences such as STDS, HIV/AIDS, unwanted teenage pregnancies, engagement in early sexual activities, abortions, miscarriages as well as the resultant effects which include teenage mothers dropping out of school and cases of single parent hood (International Debate Education Association 200).

Comprehensive sex education would therefore work towards equipping student teenagers with real and relevant information thereby enabling them to make informed decisions as far as sexually related activities are concerned (Reuters para. 4). Sex Education in school is far more effective compared to the education provided at home as parents are at times unable to discuss such issues comprehensively with their children at home and at times such discussions do not even occur.

Recommendations

Comprehensive Sex education

Sex Education based on abstinence only has failed to bring out the desired effects in those schools where it is offered because the information provided is limited to a large extent. It is a known fact that most teenagers are already engaging in sexual activities and therefore sex education should be aimed at teaching them on how to engage in safe sexual behavior. This approach was also pointed out by teenagers in Parma High School as they advocated for a more comprehensive and educative approach (Schultz para 3). Therefore comprehensive sex education which has been found to be more effective should be adopted. This does not however mean that abstinence should not be encouraged as an option but it should be made part of the comprehensive teaching.

Clear and Centralized Sex Education Teaching Program

Stakeholders in the sex education sector starting from the government, the parents, teachers and others should come up with specific procedures and policies regarding what should be taught in sex education programs so as to make it easier for policy holders to come up with a policy that enables schools to offer sex education as part of the subjects curriculum and not only as a unit in a subject which is mentioned as a by the way. This will ensure that all the necessary information is passed on to the students as time will be allocated specifically for this purpose.

Federal Funding Rules

Federal funding programs for high schools offering sex education should minimize their stringent rules regarding releasing funds to schools which only offer sex education which advocates for abstinence only to include those that offer comprehensive sex education which has proven to be more effective.

Attitude Change

Parents, Teachers, The State and Teenagers should all change their attitude towards sex and sex education. In as much as parents want to believe that their children are innocent and do not engage in sexual behavior, statistics have proven otherwise and this should incline them towards discussing sex matters with their children to supplement the education provided in school. Teachers should engage students in discussing sex education issues so as to listen to their views and advice them appropriately. The State should provide equal funding for all and come up with ways to sensitize those who are opposed to comprehensive sex education on the dangers of not having it as part of the school curriculum and most of all; teenagers should change their attitude towards sex. Engaging in sexual behavior as a result of peer influence is not right and they should learn to make individual decisions based on the information provided to them.

Works Cited

Bruess, Clint and Greenberg, Jerrold. Sexuality Education: Theory and Practice. 5th Edition. Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers LLC, 2009. Print.

Constantine, Norman. “Converging Evidence Leaves Policy Behind: Sex Education in the United States”. 2008. Web.

Guttmacher Institute. “U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity”. Guttmacher Institute: New York. Jan. 2010. Web.

International Debate Education Association. The Database Book: A Must-Have Guide for Successful Debate. IDEA: New York, 2004. Print.

Kaiser Family Foundation. “Sexual Health Statistics for Teenagers and Young Adults in the United States”. 2006. Web.

McKeone, Brigid. “Effective Sex Education”. Advocates for Youth. 2006. Web.

Pardini, Priscilla. “Fundamentalists Pushed Stealth Legislation”. Rethinking Schools Online. 1998. Web.

Reuters. “Sex Education Found to Help Teenagers Delay Sex”. Reuters. 2007. Web.

Schultz, Connie. “Parma High School Teens Make a Request for Real Sex Education”. CLEAVELAND.COM. 2010. Web.