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Sex Education: A Necessity in Public Schools Today
Alice was a normal sixteen year old; she loved school, her family and her boyfriend. She was having a blast during her Junior year, until the day she found out about the "accident". Alice and her boyfriend ,Brad, had been together for over two years, and they planned to get married. Both of them felt they were ready to have sex. However, neither of them knew anything about birth control or the dangers of having unprotected sex. What they knew about sex they had learned from watching television and from what their friends had told them. So one night they decided to go ahead and try it.
Then about six weeks later, Alice noticed that she wasn't feeling well and that she hadn't gotten her period for a long time. Of course, Alice had no idea what was wrong with her, so she told her mother how she didn't feel well and she hadn't had her period. Alice's mother asked Alice if she and Brad had slept together, and Alice had to tell her the truth. Right away her mother knew exactly what was wrong. Alice was pregnant. Alice's mother, Gertrude, immediately called Brad's parents. The teenagers and their parents met and discussed the "accident".
Later that year Alice dropped out of school and gave birth to twin girls. By this time, Brad had graduated and found a job, where he could work enough to support Alice and the twins. This one "accident" changed Alice and Brad's lives forever. Alice never made it to her sex education class her senior year.
Alice got pregnant during a time when most teenagers weren't having sex. However, recently a survey done by Health Initiatives for Youth , showed that more than two-thirds of high school students in the U.S. have had sex by the time they are Seniors ("Sex Education. . .").
The history of sex education goes back to the late nineteenth century. Sex education then consisted of medical and biological information about venereal disease and reproduction. Later, when the Second World War was over, mass media played a large role in making information on sex available to kids. Many people felt this caused a need for sex education in public school ("Sex Eduation," Encarta.). Halfheartedly public schools began teaching minimal sex education, until the late 1960's, when educational and governmental organizations created more developed programs for sex education in schools.
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Traditional opposing theories of sex education include the theory that sex education in public schools is " an insidious and unnatural invitation to sexual activity," says Randy Engel. Some feel sex education programs, specifically ones that focus on birth control and contraceptives, only promote sex (Mack). Others support beliefs that sex education should come naturally. They also feel that sex education has no place anywhere but in the home. Sex should be discussed in a religious and moral framework in the home. According to Joseph W. Gow, parents should be active in sex education at home (Gow pg. 149). All theories on sex education share the belief that sex education in public schools is not working and teen pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted diseases, among teenagers, are rising.
Sex education is defined, broadly, as instruction in results and processes of sexual activity ("Sex Eduation," Encarta.). Sex education as known today is, according to Grolier's Encyclopedia , " a formal instruction program to provide children and young adults with an objective understanding of sex as a biological, psychological, and social life force." Availability of these sex education programs is still limited, but mandatory courses can be found in more than twenty states (Grolier).
Although theories that oppose sex education in public schools make good points, there are many problems with these theories. First, the major problem with the theory that sex education should be taught at home by the parents is that many parents don't feel comfortable talking to their kids about sex. Most of these parents want their kids to know how to make healthy, responsible choices about sex, but don't feel that they can answer their children's important questions on sex. Therefore, they want their kids to learn about sex at school, where their questions can be answered correctly. A 1985 Louis Harris Poll discovered that nine out of ten parents support sex education in school (PPFA pg. 178). Another theory that has its problems is the theory that sex education only promotes sexual activity among children. Sex education has been shown to make kids more responsible, especially prior to sexual intercourse. There has been a large increase in the number of young adults being sexually active in the past ten years. However, there is no evidence that connects sex education to the increase (PPFA pg. 180).
Research shows that teens are more sexually active now than before. For example, twenty-five percent of all girls and thirty-three percent of all boys have had sex by the age of fifteen. This is a very young age, and by age seventeen the statistics have grown to seventy-five percent of all girls and eighty-six percent of all boys. This shows that there is greater need for sex education than ever before (PPFA pg.181). Starting as early as kindergarten, children should be taught about relationships and to respect others. At different levels, kids could benefit from sex education . As children become teenagers, they should be taught about abstinence and the consequences of sex. Then, as studies show, by high school they are becoming sexually active and should be taught about contraceptives as well as about venereal disease and AIDS (PPFA pg.178). This may not solve the high teen-pregnancy rate nor the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among teens. However, it may stop the increase and cause teens to be more responsible and educated when it comes to sex.
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