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Birth Control Education

.. who have to tell parents that their child is pregnant or will die from the AIDS virus. This is by far not a job that they enjoy doing. They want desperately for the AIDS epidemic to be terminated, and to stop seeing so many children diagnosed with a STD and become impregnated. Like the parents, they too are taxpayers and voters, but they have one more ball in their court.

They are experts in this field, and have the ability to alter peoples views by simply telling them what they see every day. These are the people the school board will call and ask the opinion of while trying to decide an appropriate course of action. Unhappily this is a minor issue to doctors, whom are faced with cancers and heart disease on a regular bases. Everybody already knows that the Catholic Church is seriously against the practice of using birth control due to the scripture. The church has the power of words on its side, which can be just as powerful as a vote.

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Devote followers take the word of priests as if it were the word of god himself. Through this manner the church has the opportunity to sway a good number of the votes onto their side. Of course this is not the only issue the churches of this community have to deal with, so this is not likely tobe high on their priority list. This is an issue that would have to take a back seat to such things as confirmations, weddings, baptisms, funerals, church school and masses of course. In addition to the Catholic Church, teachers might be against this as well.

After all they are the ones who need to teach this topic to the students. Some health teachers would complain that their classes have too much jammed into them right now, and adding another topic to teach would force them to spend less time on more important topics. The health teachers alone however could not change the minds of the school board and community members. As a consequence of their union, O.C.T.A., they have the enough sway to say they do not want to teach birth control methods and use to students. Nevertheless there is still the matter of money problems they have to deal with. Money problems like classroom budgets to salaries they have to worry about, and while they might not want to teach this topic, they probably wouldnt take the initiative to protest it. While the church and health teachers might take some opposition to this change, it is not a very high priority to them.

On the other hand the school board has nothing else to worry about than school policy. Currently there are a handful of conservative school board members that would protest the teaching of birth control to the student. While there are other things to worry about, such as the budget, school violence, and training rules, some members would take this under their arms as a project to concentrate on. This is a group that has the power of veto, and is the one who ultimately decides whether or not they want to make the change to the curriculum. If the members opposing the change outnumber those supporting it, it dies. While parents, and students, and the Catholic Church might influence their decision, it is in fact, their decision.

The fact that people would be against protecting the future leaders of the country from life altering diseases is indeed ill fated. By ignoring the fact that the United States has the highest percentile of people infected with STDs out of any other industrialized nation in the world, we are merely guaranteeing our position. It is feasible that in only two years the number of 13-19year olds in the United States with a sexually transmitted disease will rise from 3 million to 4 million, making up .83% of the total number of cases in the world, and 33% in this country. On the other hand, if this policy is implemented we could see a possible decrease of one million cases every two years. The education system must step in somewhere.

Ignoring the problem has only forced us deeper and deeper into a hole that there is climbing out of. If left unnoticed, soon most of the youth in this country will be infected, and they will have children who are infected and so on and so on. It has been said that knowledge is power, so why is the worlds most powerful nation so naive? Does Sex Education Work? Should sex education be taught in schools? The question is no longer should sex education be taught, but rather how should it be taught. Over 93% of all public high schools currently offer courses on sexuality or HIV.(1) More than 510 junior or senior high schools have school-linked health clinics, and more than 300 schools make condoms available on campus. The question now is are these programs effective, and if not, how can we make them better? Why do youth need sex education? Kids need the right information to help protect themselves.

The US has more than double the teenage pregnancy rate of any western industrialized country, with more than a million teenagers becoming pregnant each year.(2) Teenagers have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) of any age group, with one in four young people contracting an STD by the age of 21.(3) STDs, including HIV, can damage teenagers’ health and reproductive ability. And there is still no cure for AIDS. HIV infection is increasing most rapidly among young people. One in four new infections in the US occurs in people younger than 22.(4) In 1994, 417 new AIDS cases were diagnosed among 13-19 year olds, and 2,684 new cases among 20-24 year olds.(5) Since infection may occur up to 10 years before an AIDS diagnosis, most of those people were infected with HIV either as adolescents or pre-adolescents. Why has sex education failed to help our children? Knowledge alone is not enough to change behaviors.(6) Programs that rely mainly on conveying information about sex or moral precepts-how the body’s sexual system functions, what teens should and shouldn’t do-have failed. However, programs that focus on helping teenagers to change their behavior-using role playing, games, and exercises that strengthen social skills-have shown signs of success.(7) In the US, controversy over what message should be given to children has hampered sex education programs in schools.

Too often statements of values (my children should not have sex outside of marriage) come wrapped up in misstatements of fact (sex education doesn’t work anyway). Should we do everything possible to suppress teenage sexual behavior, or should we acknowledge that many teens are sexually active, and prepare them against the negative consequences? Emotional arguments can get in the way of an unbiased assessment of the effects of sex education.(8) Other countries have been much more successful than the US in addressing the problem of teen pregnancies. Age at first intercourse is similar in the US and five other countries: Canada, England, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden, yet all those countries have teen pregnancy rates that are at least less than half the US rate.(9) Sex education in these other countries is based on the following components: a policy explicitly favoring sex education; openness about sex; consistent messages throughout society; and access to contraception. Often sex education curricula begin in high school, after many students have already begun experimenting sexually. Studies have shown that sex education begun before youth are sexually active helps young people stay abstinent and use protection when they do become sexually active.(10) The sooner sex education begins, the better, even as early as elementary school. What kinds of programs work best? Reducing the Risk, a program for high school students in urban and rural areas in California, used behavior theory-based activities to reduce unprotected intercourse, either by helping teens avoid sex or use protection.

Ninth and 10th graders attended 15 sessions as part of their regular health education classes and participated in role playing and experimental activities to build skills and self-efficacy. As a result, a greater proportion of students who were abstinent before the program successfully remained abstinent, and unprotected intercourse was significantly reduced for those students who became sexually active.(11) Postponing Sexual Involvement, a program for African-American 8th graders in Atlanta, GA, used peers (11th and 12th graders) to help youth understand social and peer pressures to have sex, and to develop and apply resistance skills. A unit of the program also taught about human sexuality, decision-making, and contraceptives. This program successfully reduced the number of abstinent students who initiated intercourse after the program, and increased contraceptive use among sexually experienced females.(12) Healthy Oakland Teens (HOT) targets all 7th graders attending a junior high school in Oakland, CA. Health educators teach basic sex and drug education, and 9th grade peer educators lead interactive exercises on values, decision-making, communication, and condom-use skills.

After one year, students in the program were much less likely to initiate sexual activities such as deep kissing, genital touching, and sexual intercourse.(13) AIDS Prevention for Adolescents in School, a program for 9th and 11th graders in schools in New York City, NY, focused on correcting facts about AIDS, teaching cognitive skills to appraise risks of transmission, increasing knowledge of AIDS-prevention resources, clarifying personal values, understanding external influences, and teaching skills to delay intercourse and/or consistently use condoms. All sexually experienced students reported increased condom use after the program.(14) A review of 23 studies found that effective sex education programs share the following characteristics:(10) 1.Narrow focus on reducing sexual risk-taking behaviors that may lead to HIV/STD infection or unintended pregnancy. 2.Social learning theories as a foundation for program development, focusing on recognizing social influences, changing individual values, changing group norms, and building social skills. 3.Experimental activities designed to personalize basic, accurate information about the risks of unprotected intercourse and methods of avoiding unprotected intercourse. 4.Activities that address social or media influences on sexual behaviors. 5.Reinforcing clear and appropriate values to strengthen individual values and group norms against unprotected sex.

6.Modeling and practice in communication, negotiation, and refusal skills. What still needs to be done? Although sex education programs in schools have been around for many years, most programs have not been nearly as effective as hoped. Schools across the country need to take a rigorous look at their programs, and begin to implement more innovative programs that have been proven effective. Educators, parents, and policy-makers should avoid emotional misconceptions about sex education; based on the rates of unwanted pregnancies and STDs including HIV among teenagers, we can no longer ignore the need for both education on how to postpone sexual involvement, and how to protect oneself when sexually active. A comprehensive risk prevention strategy uses multiple elements to protect as many of those at risk of pregnancy and STD/HIV infection as possible. Our children deserve the best education they can get.

Bibliography Bibliography Aegerter, Ernest E. Understanding your Body. Philadelphia, Pa. George F. Stickley Company.

Bodanis, David. The Body Book. Boston / Toronto. Little, Brown and Company. 1984 Brain. Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia.

1996 ed. Brain. The World Book Encyclopedia. Vol 2. The Brain: Mystery of Matter and Mind. The Human Body. Bibliography Aegerter, Ernest E.

Understanding your Body. Philadelphia, Pa. George F. Stickley Company. Bodanis, David.

The Body Book. Boston / Toronto. Little, Brown and Company. 1984 Brain. Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia. 1996 ed.

Brain. The World Book Encyclopedia. Vol 2. The Brain: Mystery of Matter and Mind. The Human Body. Medicine and Health Care.


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