Is It Advisable to Promote Sex Education in Schools in an Effort to Combat Problems Like Teenage Pregnancy?
The cases of pregnancy and STDs among school children have become more frequent in the contemporary society. Parents worldwide are exploring ways through which they can cushion their children from these problems. Teen pregnancy is particularly rife in the United States. Due to the fact that sex education is not actually taught in school, children are totally oblivious of the dangers of exposing themselves to sex such as pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Teenagers who have little or no sex education are at a higher risk of engaging in sex at a tender age, thereby increasing their chances of falling pregnant or worse still, contracting diseases. Teen pregnancy is a common phenomenon in many families in the USA. An estimated one million teenage girls in the United States become pregnant; they mostly come from low income families. Research has also shown that most teenage girls who are pregnant hardly get a college degree. Furthermore, teenage mothers usually have their second pregnancy in less than a year. Most teenagers who fall pregnant do not secure abortion either because they or their parents are against it or because they do not want to destroy their relationship with the men who fathered their children. Only some of these teens have access to condoms or other contraceptives, and this put them in jeopardy (Blake Frances, Media Works, & Harvard Community Health Plan Foundation, 1993). There has been a heated debate in the society on whether sex education should be promoted in school in order to combat teen pregnancy and STDs. This paper aims to argue that sex education should not just be socially permitted but should also be anchored in law and introduced in our school curricula. This will offer the society an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of sex education.
To start with, it has been proven through research that when sex education is taught in our schools on a regular basis, teenage pregnancy and STIs rate among young people reduces significantly. As noted earlier, misconception about sexual intercourse is the main reason why teenagers become pregnant. It is obvious that if they fail to receive accurate information, they will depend on rumors and can reach a point where they believe everything that they are told. For instance, statements like “you cannot get pregnant the first time” or “worry not, this isn’t sex” may mislead teens. Children need a reliable information outlet to be able to explore all the controversial issues about sex. According to Guidance Associates of Pleasantville (1971), sex education in school offers them a chance to ask questions and get accurate answers, which most parents are unwilling to discuss with them. It is proven that sex education has the potential to enhance communication between parents and their children. Statistically, 99% of Americans believe that it is appropriate for young people to know about sex and STIs while 94 % believe that it is important for children to be taught about birth control.
Second, children need to become fully aware of the consequences of engaging in sexual activity at an early age. They need to be exposed to the issues related to pregnancies and the attendant consequences. The most credible information should be given in school (Ferguson, 2011). If children have parents who are ignorant about the subject, who then offers these children the much needed information? Sex education provides a solution under such circumstances. It is important that children get information on the issue in school because school offers universally sought after information.
Sex education is a topic that most parents do not feel comfortable discussing with their children. Many parents prefer to hope that their children will learn about sex on their own; they do not realize that if they fail to educate their children on this problem, the social media will. This is potentially dangerous because media rarely considers who their audiences are likely to be unless there is a good censorship framework in the country. Censorship is not usually guaranteed and, therefore, it is parents’ responsibility to control what their children learn from TV, movies and friends.
Children often engage in sex at a very tender age. 63% of high school students have experienced sex by the time they reach their senior year. The rates of teenagers getting and transmitting STIs are on the rise (Martin & Nelson, 2004). It is a commonly known fact that children do not receive enough information about responsible sex practices as evidenced by the aforementioned statistics. Teenagers need to be actually educated on the questions of sexual behavior long before they become sexually active. Ordering them to abstain or “refuse to give in to sexual advances” only worsens the situation. When children are disallowed to do something without full explanation of the reasons, it only makes them curious and eager to do it, as ‘the forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest’.
When sex education is introduced in school, it inculcates in children a culture whereby upon reaching home they initiate dialogues with their parents in an attempt to add to what they covered in school. When this happens, parents get an opportunity to share their own views regarding sex. Sex education also helps teenagers to fully understand the emotional and psychological pitfalls of early sexual relationship and how they can affect them.
Notwithstanding the apparent benefits of sex education, criticism is equally a reality. The most notable argument against introducing of sex education in schools is that what is unknown to children hardly ruins them. They seem to draw their conviction from an English proverb which says that ignorance is bliss. However, this is a simplistic approach because ignorant children cannot make proper decisions when faced with certain situations. A child who has never heard anything about causes of pregnancies among school children would not be able to avoid early sexual practices.
Some parents are worried that exposing their children to the excess of information is detrimental as it may promote sexual activity. This reasoning is flawed in a number of respects. First of all, there is no documented evidence to support this. Second, the available research results point to the opposite direction. For instance, a study conducted by World Health Organization covering 35 comprehensive sex education programs revealed no evidence that such programs encouraged teenagers to be sexually active. In fact, the selfsame study showed that programs advocating for abstinence were less effective than all-embracing sexual education programs.
Another very contestable argument against sex education is that it encourages premarital sex. According to Child Study Association of America (2004), the advocates of this idea have gone to the extent of found organizations whose main objective is to stop sex education in schools. They include Sanity of Sex (S.O.S), Parents against Universal Sex Education (PAUSE) and Movement to Restore Decency (MOTORERE). Contrary to this view, a survey conducted in 1998 by the National Survey of Americans on Sex and Sexual Health revealed that uneducated children were far more likely to engage in sex before marriage compared to their counterparts who had been educated on the consequences of early sexual relationships.
The debate on whether it is advisable to encourage sex education or not will continue. Nevertheless, from the foregoing discussion, it is very unequivocal that sex education should be promoted. Its benefits for the children and entire society outweigh the shortcomings thereof. Thus, sexual education in schools will be a panacea for pregnancies as well as STDs infections among teenagers.