The topic of whether or not to provide a Sex Ed curriculum to students has been an extreme heated debate for many years. There are people who avidly support teaching Sexual Education in schools, while others wish to solely promote abstinence-only programs.
However, the only right way to implement Sex Education in schools is to actually implement it. Time and time again, abstinence-only programs have proven to be ineffective in many aspects of teenage sexual health and education, as they fail to educate students properly which puts them at more risk. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teenage parents are more likely to drop out of high school, which would provide negatively to their future, as well as their child’s future.
Should Sex Ed Be Taught in Schools?
Abstinence-only programs lack nearly all the information vital to ensuring that young adults make educated, safe decisions regarding their sexual health. Things such as sexually transmitted infection education, contraceptive education, puberty/ post-puberty changes education, and healthy sexual relationship education are not taught in abstinence-only programs.
This lack of information provided to students increases the likeliness that mistakes will be made regarding sex. The CDC reported that just over 20% of all HIV cases from 2016 were from teenagers, 14% of teens did not use condoms during sex, 4% did not use any method of contraceptive at all, and 7% of teens had been physically forced into sexual intercourse without their consent. Although some of these numbers appear small, they should be a lot smaller.
The Importance of Sex Education in Schools
It is important to provide appropriate information to the appropriate age group. A very general curriculum should be introduced to elementary school aged children, around 2nd grade. This should be the first introduction of Sex Education in schools as this is usually the earliest age where puberty can occur. The information taught at this age should include general education of their bodies, including the differences between male and female anatomy.
Additionally, schools should teach what is and is not acceptable for them to do to others and for others to do to them. This may also assist with the reporting of child abuse cases, as young students learn what acceptable actions by the people around them are, as well as adding a safe environment for communicating any unacceptable situation that happened, as children have a natural sense of shame regarding sexual situations.
Around 7th grade (middle school), students should have a Sex Education curriculum about puberty. This program would educate on all the changes that are occurring within their bodies, alongside lightly touching on what sex and STIs are. It is important that they understand how life is created, while not focusing too hard on the subject so as to incite any interest in sex at this age. The education on STIs should be a little more thorough to educate on the risks of sex, while still informing them that their urges are a natural reaction. Once in high school, students are much more likely to begin acting on their sexual urges. Due to this, high school is the time when the variety of different contraceptive methods need to added to the Sex Ed curriculum, as well as an advanced education on sex and STIs.
The truth of the matter is that sexual urges are a natural feeling that people experience after puberty, and teenagers should be educated on how to act on their urges safely instead of shamed for having them in the first place. As generally rebellious individuals, teenagers are not likely to simply ignore their urges because they are told to; in many cases, that makes some wish to act on them even more.
Regardless of the barriers, parents put up and the lack of education provided to them, if they truly want to, teens will find a way. The very best things we can do for young people is to provide them with the most up-to-date, honest information regarding sex, human biology, contraception, and related conditions/diseases, and trust them to make responsible decisions. So, the importance of sexual education in schools cannot be stressed out enough.
This essay is written by the student of the University of Central Florida