Abortion Essay, Research Paper
What is Sex Education?
Sexuality education is a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs, and values about identity, relationships, and intimacy. Sex education is composed of information; feelings, values, and attitudes; and communication and decision-making skills. Sex education in America’s schools is often based on abstinence only or a more comprehensive program that includes contraception. (Kanabus)
Abstinence Only Sex Education
Abstinence only education teaches social, psychological, and health is gained only by abstaining from sexual activity. It totally avoids specific discussions of contraception or safer sex. They teach abstinence from sexuality activity outside marriage is the expected standard for all school age children. It teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other health problems. They teach sexual activity outside of marriage has harmful psychological and physical effects. It teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increase vulnerability to sexual advances; and teaches the importance of reaching self-reliance before any sexual activity. (Stepp)
Abstinence classes sometimes have teens sign pledges to avoid sexual relationships before marriage. A recent federal study of 6,800 questionnaires filled out by students found that on average teenagers who have made pledges refrain from sexual relationships eighteen months longer than peers who have made no pledge. Abstinence advocates have pride in this finding. It seems to show that taking a stand in the company of others can affect behavior, but that also raises the question about the depths of such commitments. Many of those who pledged didn’t keep the full commitment of no sex before marriage. (Coalition) In some instance pledging is more of a fad than a matter of deep commitment, and if they are not made with deep commitment they are nothing.
“Congress allocated $50 million in federal funds for the program each year for federal fiscal years 1998 through 2002. By the end of the program’s five guaranteed years, America will have spent nearly half a billion dollars on the abstinence-only-until-marriage education program. During the first year of the program, 48 states accepted the federal funds and provided support for 698 abstinence-only-until-marriage grants for education agencies, community-based organizations, and statewide programs. (Colwell)
There are six published studies of abstinence-only programs. None have found significant program effects on delaying the onset of intercourse. One has provided strong evidence that the program did not delay the intercourse. (Berlfein)
The abstinence-only sex education movement has been propelled by mistaken belief that comprehensive sexuality education itself somehow seduces teenagers into sexual activity. By this reasoning it follows that schools either ignore the issue or discuss sexuality only in terms of fear and disease. (Kanabus) Six in ten teachers who taught an abstinence only approach presented no information about contraceptive methods or taught that they are ineffective. (Abstinence-Only) Because of this the teenagers are denied information about how to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases in the likely event that they have sexual intercourse.
Comprehensive Sex Education
Comprehensive sexuality education begins with abstinence but also acknowledges that many teenagers will choose to have sex and need to be aware of the consequences and how to protect themselves. Such programs include instruction in safe sex behavior, including use of condoms and other contraceptives. The programs have four main goals to provide accurate information on human sexuality, to help develop and understand values, attitudes and beliefs about sex, to help develop relationship and interpersonal skills, and to help exercise responsibility regarding sexual relationships including abstinence pressures to have sex and the use of contraception and other sexual health.( What You Should Know)
What are teens doing sexually?
Half of the boys and girls in high school have had sexual intercourse by high school according to 1999 figures from the Centers for Disease Control. (Kanabus)The average age that kids first have intercourse has declined from eighteen to seventeen for girls and from seventeen to sixteen for boys. (Colwell) The percentage of girls under fifteen having sex is rising. The teenage pregnancy rate and adolescent rates of STD’s remain high. According to the Centers for Disease Control adolescents still have the highest rate of gonorrhea and chlamydia. (Kanabus) With the growing number of teen pregnancies and teens with sexuality-transmitted diseases, sex education is needed in school. They need to be educated about the dangers of these risky practices.
Who decides what is taught?
Local and state laws mandate what kind of sex education can be taught. Many schools limit what the teachers can do in there classrooms. 22%of sex education teachers surveyed reported that their schools restricted their ability to answer questions. (Eisner)
Talking to teens about sex is it a parents job?
There is the argument that none of this belongs in schools that parents ought to be the ones to explain the birds and the bees and birth control. Talking about sex regularly with teenagers is sensitive and a difficult thing to do.( Berlfein) That is why the messages at home need to be reinforced in school. Parents should be looking for support from the schools to help keep their children safe. (Ferguson)
How parents should talk to teens
Parents have worried for so long about teen pregnancy that the broader rage of sexual behaviors and problems associated with each has been virtually ignored. A survey of boys ages 15-17 shows that they think that anal and oral sex is a not risky.( Ferguson) The result of adult silence is children who are pregnant or infected with disease. Adults need to talk about love and sex with children when kids are very young with images and words that they will understand. By early adolescence kids need more serious discussions around questions they raise and questions they want to raise but may be too afraid. If parents tell kids sexuality can be pleasurable they are more likely to listen when the same people tell them that sex can also bring intense emotional pain. (Eisner)
What parents want in sex education
Parents want more taught in school that is being done. They want al lest some overlap in content about birth control and refraining from sex. “Parents want their kids to be prepared for real life and they want them to have the facts and the information that they need to be prepared to face the situations they might face,” Tina Hoff More than 3/4 of parents say sex ed should cover controversial issues such as sexual orientation birth control and how to use condoms. (Eisner) 67% say sex ed should start by grades 5 or 6 but 58% say it should cover only the basics of the 94 who say sex ed should begin by 7-8 45% say is should cover only basics while 49% say it should cover all aspects including birth control and safe sex. All parents say that by high school students need to know all aspects and 97% say sex education should be taught in high school () Most parents who want their children to abstain from sex until marriage are the same parents who want their children to learn how to use a condom (Ferguson)
What teachers want in sex education?
When asked what they consider their most important messages, four in 10 teachers in 1999 cited abstinence, up from one in four in 1988. Seven in 10 teachers think that students who receive education that stresses abstinence are less likely to have intercourse than students who do not. (Stepp) At the same time, 86% think that students who are taught to use contraceptives if they are sexually active are more likely to do so than are students who do not receive similar instruction. While teachers now consider that contraception should be taught later than they did in the late 1980s, 93% still favor covering it; half believe it should be taught in grade seven or earlier. Yet one in four teachers are told not to teach the topic. (http://www.agi-usa.org)
The vast majority of teachers believe that sexuality education courses should also cover where to go for birth control, factual information, and ethical issues about abortion, the correct way to use a condom and sexual orientation. However, gaps between teachers’ recommendations and actual coverage of these topics are large. (9)
Teachers are not always allowed to teach what they think kids need. One-third of teachers said they had to be careful about what they taught because of the possibility of adverse community reactions. (9) One-quarter of teachers said that information their students needed was not in the curriculum they followed. Six in 10 teachers who taught an abstinence-only approach presented no information about contraceptive use. (http://www.agi-usa.org)
What is Needed in Sex education
Students need more practical information in sex ed classes the basics of reproduction information about AIDS/HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and messages about abstinence are not standard in sex ed classes (57)
Effective sex education programs need many different elements. They need to focus on reducing sexual risk that may lead to infections or unintended pregnancy. They need to work on recognizing influences and values. Accurate information about the risks of unprotected intercourse and methods of avoiding that need to be discussed. Use of activities that address social or media influences on sexual behaviors. They also need people to model and practice communication, negotiation, and refusal skills. (www.avert.org)
Sex Ed Is Needed
Sex education is important to teens. It gives them a way to acquire information and form attitudes, beliefs, and values. Sex ed helps sexual development, affection, body image and gender roles. It is about learning how we grow, reproduce, and change over the years and most importantly includes a positive view of sex and the safety involved on sexuality.
“This is not the time to be complacent about HIV/Aids crises for all the promising treatments there is still no cure it is still vitally important that everyone in our society become education, especially our children and young people It’s time we put delicate sensitivities aside and allow public health agencies in school to teach young people about their dangers of risky sex practices” (2)
Abstinence-Only Sex Education Is Not Enough.” USA Today Magazine Jan 2001: 7
“AIDS Education Is Crucial” Los Angeles Times Feb 4 2001: 18
Coalition For Positive Sexuality
Berlfein, Judy. Teen Pregnancy. San Diego: Lucent Books, 1992.
Betancourt, Donya. “It Is Up To Parents To Explain The Facts Of Life.” Jakarta Post February 2001
Colwell, Brian. “Sex Instruction For Teenagers”: Journal For
School Health December 2001: 413
Eisner, Jane “What Parents Want In Sex Ed Isn’t What’s Being Taught In School.” The Philadelphia Inquirer: November 2001
Ferguson, Dawn B. “Parents Want Schools To Teach More Sex Education.” Curriculum Review December 2000: 20
Kanabus, Annabel Does Sex Education Work? AVERT 2000
McQueen, Anjetta. ” Students Learn OF AIDS Threat.” Associated Press Online September 2002
Stepp, Laura – Sessions. “How To Talk About Sex.” Independent School Winter 2001: 18
What You Should Know About Sexuality Education Planned Parenthood Federation Of America 2001
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