Pros And Cons Of Sex Education In Public Schools
Among the most controversial issues pertaining to the educational system, sex education may claim the top spot on the list because it has been the topic of a debate for a very long time. A number of stakeholders have been arguing whether sex education should be provided in public schools. There are a number of strong arguments in favor of sex education, and there is an equal representation of the arguments against it. This articles tackles the pros and cons of sex education in public schools.
Those who favor sex education state that it introduces the young population to the much needed timely familiarization with issues such as sexual health, reproduction, and sexuality. Most parents are embarrassed to discuss such topics with their children which renders the young adult population unaware of some of the most important issues pertaining to sexual health and sexuality. This lack of knowledge may lead to acts or behaviors which may affect the sexual health of the youth. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that young adult population is given the necessary information regarding sexual health within the time when it the most relevant. Another significant advantage of teaching sex education in public schools is raising awareness of sexually transmitted diseases among young adult population. This help the youth stay away from such diseases by using the necessary precautionary measures. Sex education also clarifies some misconceptions that prevail among the young population. For example, a proportion of young population believes that an individual cannot get pregnant in the first time which leads towards experimentation which can be harmful for health and at times fatal. Thus, sex education clarifies all such confusions and provides a clear perspective to the youth.
The arguments that go against sex education in public schools state that students may not take such an issue seriously and they may take the class recreationally. In addition to that, controlling the class while teaching such a sensitive subject may be difficult as students may make inappropriate comments. At times, sex education goes against the moral and religious beliefs of an individual which makes it highly controversial for a proportion of the population. In addition to that, teachers may not be sufficiently trained to handle such a sensitive subject and they may cause more damage than good by imparting incomplete or inaccurate knowledge.
Thus, there are both pros and cons of sex education in public schools. This remains a controversial issue and choosing one side in wake of such strong arguments remains difficult.
Sex Education Should be Taught in Schools
Kids spend a better part of their childhood in school, and they learn a lot. After every academic year, they will have acquired so many skills like reading, writing, and arithmetic. At least those are the basics, but some schools go an extra mile in teaching subjects such as driving, social education and sex education. The later generates quite a buzz, and parents and policy makers have different opinions regarding its inclusion in the school curriculum. I believe sex is a part and parcel of human nature, and therefore sexual education should be mainstreamed in the school system. It should be taught as a pure science so that students can learn the facts about sex (Guttmacher, 2011). However, education on sexual matters should be crafted with suitability for the ages of learners in each level, and only relevant information should be taught.
Sex education should be taught in high schools to dispel common myths about sex. It is said that information is power and the same applies to knowledge about sexuality. Sexual reproduction is about life, and there are scientific facts about this process that is not necessarily common knowledge (Harrison, 2000). In uncovering common misconceptions about sex you, will discover that a good number of teenagers firmly believe that:-
1. A girl cannot get pregnant by vaginal intercourse as long as it’s her first time.
2. You cannot get STDs through oral sex.
3. Teenage boys know more about sex than girls do.
4. That you cannot get pregnant if you have sex while standing.
5. Douching just after sex prevents pregnancy, amongst many others.
All this is misconstrued information on what goes on during sex. So why should the curriculum leave out this program when teaching about human body in biology? After all, school is the best place to get factual information about a topic that is considered distasteful or embarrassing. Eske (2003) asserts that all public and private schools should educate on sexuality especially because it may not be dealt with at home. I believe teaching is what teachers do best, and if parents disagree with what their kids are taught, then they should tell their children how their beliefs differ. However, it is highly unlikely for factual scientific information to be different no matter the cultural background or beliefs. Therefore, having a comprehensive program as part of the school studies is the only way to change the mindset of teenagers who have varied beliefs about sex. This could help greatly in reducing teenage pregnancies and venereal diseases.
Sex education programs can also go a long way in educating students about the consequences of sex. Indeed we live in a world impacted by our sexual decisions. Statistics shows that close to 19 million STIs are reported each year in the US. Half of these infections are reported among teenagers and young adults (CDC, 2009). Teenage pregnancies are also very high with 10% of the births occurring in the U.S. involving adolescent mothers. This trend has however improved over the last decade, however, a big room for improvement remains. This includes teaching students, especially ones in high school on the consequences of pre-marital sex. This will equip them with information which can influence their future relationship decisions.
The best part of sex education is that it encompasses a range of relationships. When students learn about these relationships before they act on their sexuality, perhaps then they can understand why they should wait for a more appropriate time. Through sex education, students can also learn about various sexual vices that can be a danger to them. For example, they get to discuss the dangers of texting. This is a common practice among many teenagers which makes them vulnerable to predators on the internet. The school can even organize sessions where they can invite victims of sexual abuse who can talk to students. This can help the students learn from their experiences and avoids situations that may put them in such circumstances.
Through sex education, students can also acquire consistent knowledge and information to assist them combat peer pressure. It`s true that we are all defined by the decisions we make. However, consistent knowledge and information is vital before any decision can be made. This is why matters of sexuality should be taught from a very tender age. Even toddlers and pre-school children need information that they can protect themselves with. At these ages, the focus should be on the correct terminologies and who is allowed to touch what and where. And as they grow older, the conversation will change. When students learn the expectations that come out of a sexual relationships, they are better off in making the decision whether they will get into one or not (Kirby, 2007).
Sexual relationships are known to drain young people both psychologically and physically. Most students are not aware of this yet they want to progress academically as well as in sports. In fact, most of the young people do it because others are doing it. Invoking them to use concrete reasoning to make a decision on whether they need it or not may help them evaluate their choices. I believe the system owes this to every kid that is entrusted to them.
Students also get a platform for an open and honest discussion about issues relating to sexuality. When young people are growing, they need to understand and adapt to the psychological and physiological changes in the different stages of development. With appropriate counseling and continuous guidance, they can learn to control their sexual desires. Having an open forum where they can discuss challenges affecting them can actually boost their confidence to come out and seek help. And when they volunteer to ask questions or share their experiences, the rest of the students realize that they are not facing unique challenges. In many counseling and sex education sessions, the tutors or counselors try to tone down to an appropriate attitude. They give definite replies and avoid using a commanding tone. This gives students a chance honestly to challenge their choices which is a step forward in delaying the initiation of sex.
Every sane person has values and standards, even teenagers do, only that they are incoherent and sometimes misguided. When young people are growing up, they pick up a lot of things. As they progress on to the eighth grade, they know what is right and what is wrong regardless of where they learned it from. But during teenage years, there is a tendency to disregard rules. It may be as a way of seeking attention or for sheer fun.
During sex education, educators put forward various stands that one can make to take control of their sexuality. The debate may revolve around abstinence as the best policy for adolescents rather than teaching students about contraception (Guttmacher, 2011). These programs also teach students how to avoid tempting situations and how to handle unwanted advances. It is here where students are taught to create boundaries in their relationship with the opposite gender. Students learn about personal space and how they should respect other people`s personal space. They also learn that their intimate space is off limits. This way, students acquire a coherent set of personal values that guide them to make better decisions every day.
Regardless of these efforts, studies have shown that abstinence-only programs are barely effective in curbing STIs and unwanted pregnancies (Kirby, 2007). Therefore, some schools have gone ahead to assimilate all-inclusive programs on sex education programs that also entail information on contraception methods. This is only done to the age appropriate students, and it is not so much stressed. It is only for the purpose of empowering students so that even in making choices against abstinence they may be able to protect themselves; especially because it is highly unlikely that such issues are discussed at home. Ideally, most parents will not volunteer information about contraception to their sons or daughters for the fear of provoking their sexual interest. Comprehensive sex education is effective in reducing risk behavior among the teens (Eske, 2003). In a study of 48 comprehensive programs that taught both abstinence and use of contraceptives for the sexually active teens, two-thirds of these were found to have positive behavioral effects (Schuster et al., 1998).
Teenagers and young adults will engage in sex at one point or another. What is important is if they are equipped to make better choices? Sexual education is not just a program on sex; it encompasses many important teachings on life skills. Furthermore, it’s the only way to ensure that we do not leave the media, friends and the internet to equip kids with uncouth information on sex. More importantly, such programs instill decision-making skills on students. And while we leave for schools to teach students about facts about sex, parents should teach their children about morality.
CDC. (2010). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual activity, contraception use, and child bearing national survey of family growth. Retrieved from http//www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_030.pdf
Eske, A. T. (2003). Comprehensive sex education. SEICUS Report, 17-18.
Guttmacher , I. (2011). State policies in brief, sex and HIV education. Retrieved from http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_SE.pdf
Harrison, J. K. (2000). Sex education in Srcondary Schools. Philadelphia: Open Press University.
Kirby, D. (2007). Emerging answers 2007. Research findings on programs to reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, 30-36. Retrieved from http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/EA2007/EA2007_full.pdf
Schuster et al. (1998). Impact of a high school condom availability program on sexual attitudes and behaviours.