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Sex Education

Sex Education 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. Lindsell 2 Students are taught about the anatomy of the human body and how and why it works the way it does.

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Knowing and understanding how ones body works is a fundamental part any persons 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 Lindsell 3 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. Lindsell 4 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 Lindsell 5 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 Lindsell 6 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. Bibliography “Board refuses restriction on sex education in schools.” Associated Press. February 1996: n. pag. Online. Netscape.

29 March 1998. Chaumont, Michelle; Galing, Samantha et al. “Sex education in Nebraska Public Schools.” Online. Netscape. 28 March 1998. “Does Sex Education Work.” Center for AIDS Prevention Studies.

Online. Netscape. 29 October 1999. Euchner, Charlie. “The Vatican Endorses Sex Education in Schools.” Teacher Magazine. December 1983: n.

pag. Online. Netscape. 1 April 1998. Hopkins, Ellen. “Sex Is for Adults.” Rottenberg. 588-591.

Kilpatrick, William. “Sex Education.” Rottenberg. 591-602 O’Hanolan, Ann. “It’s a Fact of Life, Va. Youths Say: Sex Education Belongs in Schools.” Washington Post 14 June.

1997: B8. “Poll: Americans Favor Sex Education In Schools.” Yahoo News-Reuters. Online. Netscape. 29 March 1998. Richardson, Lynda.

“Condoms in School said not to Affect Teen-Age Sex Rate.” New York Times 30 September. 1997: B8. Richardson, Lynda. “When Sex is just a Matter of Fact.” New York Times 16 October. 1997: B1.

Rottenberg, Annette T., ed. Elements of Argument. Boston, Ma: Bedford Books, Lindsell 8 1997. Roye, Carol F. “Protect Our Children.” Rottenberg. 581-582 Vobejda, Barbara; Havemann, Judith.

“Teenagers Less Sexually Active in U.S.” Washington Post. 2 May. 1997: A1 Lindsell 9 Sex Education and the Classroom Steffanie Lindsell A. Mammary Contemporary Moral Problems T/TR 11:30 Final paper Steffanie Lindsell November 2, 1999 Contemporary Moral Problems T/TR 11:30 A. Mammary Thesis: 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 than ever before.

Sex education —

Sex Education is Ineffective
Perhaps one of the most controversial issues arising today is that of sex education in America’s public school system. In today’s world, where information travels at the speed of light and mass media is part of our everyday lives, teenagers are more exposed to this world than ever before. In this country, teens have access to television, newspapers, and of course, internet. Sometimes, teenagers can misinterpret what they see in the media regarding sex and make unwise decisions, such as having unprotected sex. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and teenage pregnancies is a growing problem in the U.S. Every year, one million girls aged 15 to 19 become pregnant each year in this country alone (Schools Skimping… 13). Sex education was introduced to help solve the problem of STDs and teen pregnancies by giving teenagers real facts and correct information about sex. Teenagers can therefore make wise and safe choices about sex. However, there are major flaws in sex education. While it is extremely important to educate teenagers about sex and sexuality, putting sex education in the American educational system in not the correct solution. Sex education is flawed in that it is ineffective when it comes to lowering teenage pregnancies and STDs because sex education programs leave out important information, teachers who teach it are unqualified, and because teenagers are more greatly affected by their parents, peers, and popular media than by their teachers.

There is a myth that sex education provides teenagers with good and important information. Sex education supposedly gives students the means to make responsible and wise decisions. Pamela DeCarlo, from the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, is a firm believer in sex education, and believes it must be taught in order to reduce the spread of STDs and teenage pregnancies (DeCarlo).
According an article in USA Today, however, Congress passed in 1996 a legislation allocating two hundred and fifty million dollars to fund sex education programs. These programs excluded medically accurate information about birth control and STDs (Schools Skimping… 13). These programs cannot possibly hope to have any significant benefits. Teenagers are deprived from getting the type of information they need about sex. The whole purpose of sex education is to educate teenagers about sex and help lower teenage pregnancies and the spread of diseases. If these so-called “sex-education programs” are lacking in information about birth control and STDs, then it defeats the whole purpose of having sex education in the first place.

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Another argument that is often made is sex education provides teenagers with the type of information that they cannot receive from a parent. The argument is that sex education provides students with qualified instructors to help answer questions that might have been too embarrassing to ask a parent. According to a “Teen Talk” survey taken by Durex Consumer Products, a manufacturer of condoms, teenagers are more likely to talk to their parents only about dating and relationship issues. Only about thirty percent of them talk to their parents about buying or using contraceptives (Schools Skimping… 13).
However, most teachers who teach sex education are unqualified. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, vice-president of the Institute for American Values, says, “Principals have to do little more than buy a sex-education curriculum and enroll the coach or home-economics teacher in a training workshop, and their school has a sex-education program” (Whitehead). It is unsettling to think of how just anyone can teach a program. Workshops cannot possibly provide teachers with enough skill and expertise to adequately educate teenagers about sex. Workshops, at most, would only cover the basics, which would put teenagers at a loss if they ever wanted to know something that was not taught in the workshop. It seems that sex education is not taken very seriously, considering that math and English teachers need degrees in their respective subjects in order to teach it, whereas sex education teachers need no such requirement.

Until sex education teachers are more adequately trained, the responsibility of educating teenagers about sex should lie with the parents. Since many teens may be too embarrassed to initiate a conversation about sex, the parent should be the one to bring up the subject. Although parents, too, may not have the expertise to know everything about educating their children on sex, teenagers are more likely to take this subject seriously when approached by their parents. An untrained parent is better at educating teenagers on sex than an improperly trained teacher. A one-on-one discussion would be more personal and meaningful than a discussion in a classroom setting. Debra Haffner, president of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S., believes that sex and sexuality should be an ongoing topic between parent and teen. She says that if parents communicate openly and set clear limits, their children would be more likely to abstain from having sex or use contraceptives if they do (Haffner 81).
Professor Linda A. Berne, of the Department of Health Promotion and Kinesiology in the University of North Carolina, brings a point about the effectiveness of sex education in Europe. In the Education Digest, she claims that in certain parts of Europe where sex education is taught, the rates of pregnancies amongst teenage girls are two to seven times lower than the teenage pregnancy rate in the U.S. (Berne 27). The point she is trying to make is that if sex education is such a success in Europe, it should be effective in the United States as well.

However, the United States and Europe are two complete different areas. The United Sates has a completely different culture. Europeans are not exposed to the type of movies and television programs that American teenagers are exposed to. Charles Krauthammer, former chief resident in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, points out, “Kids do not learn their morals at school. They learn it at home. Or they used to. Now they learn it from culture, most notably from the mass media” (Krauthammer 584). Jeannie I. Rosoff, president of the Alan Guttmcher Institute, also believes that media is one of the reasons why teenagers are more sexually active. She says, “The role of media, particularly television, is pervasive, and the depiction of sex and violence is ubiquitous at virtually all hours of the day” (Rosoff 33). It is impossible to compare teenage pregnancy rates of two different regions of the world when the teenagers in question are living in completely different societies.

With the media comes peer pressure. If something is believed by popular culture to be “hip” and “cool,” then teens are more likely to do it. In a study done by Ruth J. Berenda, ten teenagers were brought into a classroom. They were told that they were going to be tested on their perception. Cards were held up before the class. On each card, there were three lines, each of different lengths. As the conductor pointed to each line, the class was told to raise their hands when the conductor pointed to the longest line. What one student did not know what that the other nine teenagers were brought in earlier and were told to point to the medium length line. When the nine students all raised their hands at the medium line, the one student would look around with confusion, but would raise his hand as well. When the next card was raised, the one student would follow all the others again. This happened in seventy-five percent of all the cases (Dobson).Because of the power of peer pressure, a student would say that a shorter line is longer than a long one. Peer pressure is greatly affects what teenagers do and look like. In many cases, unfortunately, teenagers are also pressured into having sex. Sex education in the school system would be ineffective because the pressure would be too overwhelming for a teenager to just ignore the crowd and not listen to his friends.
In a society such as ours, it is important that teenagers get the information they need about sex. Only then can they make responsible choices and keep themselves protected. However, sex education as it is known today, is ineffective when it comes to lowering teenage pregnancies and sexual transmitted diseases. The government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to fund sex education programs that simply do not work. Sex education teachers are inadequately trained and cannot connect with a teenager the same way that a parent could. Until a there is a revision in the curriculum of sex education programs in the U.S., it would be best if the government spent the money on something of use.


Works Cited
Berne, Linda. “Sexuality Education Works: Here’s Proof.” The Education Digest.
Feb. 1996: 25-29
DeCarlo, Pamela. “Does Sex Education Work?” http://www.avert.org/sexedu.htm
Dobson, James. “The Influence of Peer Pressure.”
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Meadow/2360/tracts/peerpressure.html
Haffner, Debra. “How to Talk to Kids About Sex.” Newsweek. 14 June 1999: 80-81
Krauthammer, Charles. “School Birth-Control Clinics: A Necessary Evil.” Elements of
Argument. Ed. Annette T. Rottenberg. Boston: Bedford Books, 1996
Rosoff, Jeannie. “Helping Teenagers Avoid Negative Consequences of Sexual Activity.”
USA Today. May 1996: 33-35
“Schools Skimping on Sex Education.” USA Today. Aug. 1998: 13
Whitehead, Barbara Dafoe. “The Failure of Sex Education.” The Atlantic Monthly.
Oct. 1994

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