Sex Ed Essay, Research Paper
High school sex ed falling short
By Melissa Baker
The Miami Student
Often, sexuality education is a taboo in American culture. As a result, sexual education programs at many schools create controversy.
Ohio only requires schools to provide HIV and STD education, and 13 states do not require schools to provide either. According to Dr. Gregory Garnett, medical director of Student Health Services, it’s common for schools not to offer healthy sexual education. They take the mentality that students “aren’t supposed to be doing that, therefore we don’t talk about it.
“Students raised in this environment are uninformed; what they hear may be inaccurate,” Garnett said. “It’s difficult for students to discern what’s real and what’s not real.”
In fact, several studies have shown that among young adults, levels of sexual activity have decreased or remained the same after sex education programs included information about condoms, according to the American School Health Association. There are disagreements about the form that sexual education should take, said Laura Ault, communications coordinator for Planned Parenthood. However, she added, “To say nothing is to teach nothing.”
For many Miami students, their sex education developed at the university.
“My school’s sex education program wasn’t very good,” said fifth-year student Kathleen Smith. Her seventh grade class at an all-girls school learned mostly about reproduction. STDs or contraception were not discussed until Smith’s health teacher covered them in high school.
“In this day and age sex education should start earlier for kids,” Smith said. “There’s so much more to consider besides pregnancy, especially STDs and HIV/AIDS.”
At Miami, there are organizations whose mission is to educate students about pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease prevention, HIV/AIDS, abstinence and “outercourse,” or sexual activity that does not involve intercourse.
SHAPE, or Sexual Health Awareness Peer Education, offers a variety of programs geared toward college students. According to Karen Murray, adviser to SHAPE, a significant portion of the group’s education programs have focused on HIV education.
All of SHAPE’s peer educators are trained extensively. Murray said many times when students apply to become a peer educator they are surprised that people know so little about HIV, for example. Typically, they want to be part of the education process, she said.
“Peer educators are trained to deal with some ignorance. The education people get in school is not comprehensive,” said Murray, also the director of Health Education.
Although the SHAPE program is geared toward college, it will present to organizations and to schools in the community. However, according to Murray, because many schools restrict the group’s use of materials, “we’re almost ineffective.” In some schools, the group cannot use the word “condom” or show a condom. But SHAPE is willing to tailor its programs to fit the audience.
Tailoring programs fit to a specific age is one avenue sexual educators, parents and counselors can explore.
Planned Parenthood offers age appropriate kits for elementary, middle and high school students, according to Ault. These PASE, or “parents are sexuality educators,” kits allow conversation between parents and children “without an intermediary, and hopefully begin a long-term process,” Ault said.
Long-term sex education seems to be the ideal for future children. There is a push for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) which encompasses issues including sexuality, culture and relationships. The goal of CSE, according to the video “Sexuality Education for the 21st Century,” is to develop sexually healthy adults.
Advocates say schools should be involved in CSE because young people are enrolled in school when they initiate intercourse.
However, according to the video, only 5 percent of students receive CSE.
Garnett stressed that sexual education does not promote sexual activity. “The information may not be needed for five years, but that doesn’t mean students don’t need it.”