Improving the Effectiveness of Sex Education in Schools

969 Words4 Pages
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. More than 510 junior and 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? Kids need the right information to help protect them-selves. The US has more than double the teenager's pregnancy rate of any western industrialized country. Teenagers have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STD's) of any age group, with one in four young people contracting an STD by the age of 21. STD's, 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. In 1994, 417 new AIDS cases were diagnosed among 13-19 year olds, and 2,684 new cases among 20-24 year olds. Since infection may occurs up to 10 years before and AIDS diagnosis, most of those people were infected with HIV either as adolescents or pre-adolescents. Knowledge alone is not enough to change behaviors. 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 focuses on helping teenagers to change their behavior-using role-playing, games, and exercises that strengthen social skills-have shown signs of success. In the US, controversy over what message should be given to children has disadvantaged sex education programs in s... ... middle of paper ... ...nd practice in communication, negotiation, and refusal skills. 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 one self 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.
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