Sex Education In The Public School System
Essay, Research Paper
Sex Education in the Public School System.
The topic of sex education in public schools has been a hot one for some time. Those in favor of it argue that education is the answer to the rising rate of teen pregnancies and STD’s. They are afraid that the youth of today are not receiving the proper information at home to protect themselves. Supporters feel that if kids are provided with accurate information in school they will be equipped with the tools to make wise, healthy decisions. There are many others, however, who are against sex-Ed being taught in schools. They argue that, perhaps, ideas of sex are being placed in kids’ heads too early and this is leading to early sexual experimentation. Others argue that schools are pulling too far away from the basics and kids are not receiving a proper education. They find that schools are becoming sidetracked with social issues and are passing students through without appropriate academic knowledge.
After conducting much research it seems apparent sex education is simply a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs, and values about identity, relationships, and intimacy. It encompasses sexual development, reproductive health, interpersonal relationships, affection, intimacy, body image, and gender roles.
School-based sexuality education programs conducted by specially trained educators can add an important dimension to children’s ongoing sexual learning. These programs should be developmentally appropriate and should include discussions on such issues as self-esteem, family relationships, parenting, friendships, values, communication techniques, dating, and decision-making skills. For example by giving teens real life problem and solution situations they will have a better grasp on finding a solution to a problem they may eventually have. The following stories have been taken out of a sex education book.
HERE’S THE STORY:
Last weekend Lisa and Bobby went to a party at a house where the parents weren’t home. After drinking a few beers, Lisa and Bobby went all the way (their first time). The next day, Lisa was upset that she had done this and decided that she doesn’t want to have sex with Bobby again. After all she doesn’t know him very well. When she explains her decision to Bobby, he becomes very angry and insists, “Once you’ve
lost it, you’ve lost it. You can’t go back to being a virgin!” Is he right?
HERE’S ONE ANSWER:
Though her virginity cannot be restored, Lisa can take control of her sexuality and certainly has the right to refrain from intercourse if she wants to. Just because she made an unwise decision to have sex at the party (with the help of the alcohol) doesn’t mean that she has to continue being sexually active.
HERE’S THE STORY:
Danielle is 17 years old and has been dating Bill for 8 months. They have come to the decision that they are ready for sex. It will be the first time for both of them. Danielle is scared that she won’t know how to “do it right.” She’s comfortable with her decision to take this step, but she’s worried she’ll do something wrong. How does someone do it right?
HERE’S ONE ANSWER:
This is a major step. It is important now for Danielle and Bill to discuss birth control BEFORE the first time they do it. They need to keep in mind that one unprotected sexual encounter could radically change their lives. An aborted pregnancy or giving a child up for adoption are painful choices that may haunt a couple for the rest of their lives. Once birth control is taken care of, how do they do it? That part is much
easier when the two people involved care deeply for one another. The first time is often awkward for both parties but over a period of time, with experience, it becomes more natural and more satisfying for both people. If she is concerned about the technical aspects of lovemaking she can browse through her local bookstore to find a book on this topic.
The primary goal of sex education is to promote future sexual health. Sex education seeks to assist young people in understanding a positive view of sexuality, provide them with information and skills about taking care of their sexual health, and help them make sound decisions now and in the future.
Do We Need Sexual Health Education Programs In The Schools?
Sex education is a gray area of society, the vast majority of the population is in favor of sex Ed, a recent Canadian survey study reported 92% of the population to be for sex Ed, however the conflicting issue is what subjects, what topics are necessary, what should be taught.
1.Should Sexual Health Education Teach Young People About Sexual Orientation?
2.Should Sexual Health Education Teach Young People About Abstinence?
3.Should Sexual Health Education Teach Only About Abstinence?
Other types of issues regarding sex Ed are;
1.What Types of Sexual Health Education Are The Most Effective At Helping Adolescents protect themselves Against unwanted Pregnancy And STDs
2.Does Teaching Adolescents about Contraception/Condoms Lead to Earlier or More Frequent sexual Activity?
3.What Is the Impact of Making Condoms Easily Available to Teenagers
Sexual health education takes many forms. It ranges from public health messages providing basic information to comprehensive, multifaceted interventions with specific behavioural objectives. While most forms of sexual health education have potential benefits, social science research has begun to more clearly identify the ingredients necessary for educational programs to contribute effectively to the reduction of sexual health problems. While the issues involved in this area are broad, complex and likely to evolve in response to new research and changing social circumstances, the approach to sexual health education presented in this document is supported by current research, some of which is summarized below.
Many sexual health education efforts have been geared exclusively toward increasing knowledge, and such programs are often successful in reaching this objective.
Although useful, programs that focus only on providing factual information about sexual health may be insufficient for enabling individuals and couples to reduce the likelihood of negative outcomes, such as STD infection and unintended pregnancy, or for enhancing the positive outcomes of their sexual expression. Numerous studies have indicated, for example, that possession of basic knowledge about HIV, including how the virus is transmitted, often does not translate into risk-reduction behaviour.
These data suggest that behaviourally produced problems, such as the high prevalence of HIV infection, other STD, and unintended pregnancy require sexual health education programs that, in addition to supplying factual information, also provide people with educational experiences. These experiences will equip them to engage
in specific behaviours to avoid sexual problems and to enhance their sexual health. Research has documented the effectiveness of sexual health education
interventions that combine relevant information with motivational opportunities and skill-building experiences that equip people for problem prevention. These
interventions are described in the guidelines as the knowledge, motivational, and skills components of sexual health education.
Knowledge of specific methods of problem prevention helps individuals to avoid sexual problems and enhance sexual health. It is critical that the information
provided is relevant to the individual and easy to translate into personal preventive behaviour. For example, learning what AIDS stands for is likely to be of limited
use, whereas acquiring knowledge about how to negotiate sexual limit setting, including abstinence from intercourse, condom use, and other safer sex practices, is
directly relevant to problem-prevention behaviour.
Motivation to engage in behaviour that promotes sexual health is a major determinant of whether individuals act upon their knowledge. This motivation can be
affected by individuals’ self-acceptance of their sexual activity, their attitudes toward specific preventive acts, their perceptions of social support for such acts, and
their feelings of personal vulnerability to sexual health problems. For example, individuals who are well informed about the role of condoms in reducing the risk of
HIV infection may have negative attitudes about condom use, and may perceive little social support for such behaviour. Positive attitudes toward preventive
behaviour and perceptions of social support for such behaviour are crucial to determining whether individuals will avoid sexual problems and enhance their sexual
Skills for doing specific problem-prevention behaviours are a third critical aspect of sexual health behaviour. Such skills affect whether a person, even when
knowledgeable and highly motivated, will be able to maintain or modify his/her behaviour in order to avoid sexual problems and enhance sexual health. For example,
behavioural skills training can increase an individual’s ability to communicate with, and to be appropriately assertive with, a potential sexual partner. (For a fuller
discussion of techniques to facilitate behavioural skills acquisition and practice, see W. A. Fisher, 1990a, 1990b, and Kelly & St. Lawrence, 1988).
HIV/AIDS risk-reduction education that combines information, motivational opportunities, and skill-building experiences has been successful in significantly reducing
high-risk behaviour (Franzini et al., 1990; Galavotti, Schnell, & O’Reilly, 1990; Gibson et al., 1989; Jemmott, J. B., Jemmott, L. S., & Fong, 1992; Kelly et al.,
1989; Kelly et al., 1990; Miller, 1990; Rotherman-Borus, 1991; Solomon & DeJong, 1989; Valdiserri ct al., 1989; Waiter &Vaughan, 1993). (For a
comprehensive review of HIV/AIDS risk-reduction interventions targeting risky sexual behaviour, see J. D. Fisher & Fisher, 1992; W. A. Fisher & Fisher, 1992)
The success of this approach has also been demonstrated in pregnancy prevention among adolescents (Schinke, 1984; Schinke, Blythe, & Gilchrist,1981) and
college students (W. A. Fisher, 1990b).
There is indirect evidence that the environment affects sexual health behaviour and outcomes. For example, Orton and Rosenblatt’s (1991, 1993) studies of sexual
health education and clinic services in Ontario showed that communities with concurrent access to both sexual health clinics and school-based sexuality education
experienced more rapid declines in teen pregnancy rates than those that did not.The Alan Guttmacher Institute has cited evidence of environmental factors in
developed countries that relate to low or high rates of adolescent pregnancy (Jones et al.,1985). Zabin et al. (1986) found that the provision of services in
consumers’ local environments was related to a reduction in the adolescent pregnancy rate and to the delay of first intercourse.
Effective sexual health education can help individuals develop an awareness of the environmental factors affecting their sexual health, to identify sexual health
resources (for example, the location and hours of accessible clinics, referral and support services), and to establish such resources when they are lacking in the
community. Environmental factors affecting sexual health behaviour include media portrayals of people having sexual intercourse with many partners, but suffering no
negative consequences. Another example is the media’s presenting male sexual aggression and female sexual passivity as normative. The former factor can be
countered by media-literacy education; the latter, by consciousness raising for both genders.
Although the Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education address a diversity of issues for a variety of groups with different needs, the research cited above
strongly suggests that knowledge acquisition, motivational opportunities, skill-building experiences, and a supportive environment should all be present if sexual health
education is to help individuals effectively avoid sexual problems and enhance sexual health.
Sexual health is a major, positive aspect of personal health. Accordingly, sexual health education should be available to all Canadians as an important component of
health promotion programs and services. The goals of such education are to help people achieve positive outcomes (e.g. self-esteem, respect for self and others,
non-exploitive sexual satisfaction, rewarding human relationships, the joy of desired parenthood) and to avoid negative outcomes (e.g. unwanted pregnancy, sexually
transmitted disease, sexual coercion, sexual dysfunction). Achievement of these goals would represent a major advance for the sexual health of Canadians.
The term “sexual health” is defined by the World Health Organization as:
“[Sexual health is]…the integration of the physical, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual being, in ways that are positively
enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love.”
Sexual health education is concerned with the well-being of the individual while recognizing that individuals have responsibilities to, and are affected by, each other
and by the social environment in which they live. Sexual health education is one important aspect of health promotion.
Sexual health education helps individuals achieve positive and avoid negative outcomes of sexual expression. It employs a combination of learning experiences
including access to age-appropriate information, motivational supports, and opportunities to develop the skills needed for individual sexual adjustment and for
satisfying interpersonal relationships.
Sexual health education is a broadly based, community-wide activity requiring the full participation of the educational, medical, public health, social welfare and legal
systems of our society.
Sexual health education enables individuals, couples, families and communities to develop the knowledge, motivation, skills, and critical awareness needed to
enhance sexual health and to avoid sexual problems. Significant positive effects on individual sexual health choices and practices can result from educational
programs that integrate these components of sexual health education.
Sexual health education maintains an open dialogue that respects individual beliefs and is sensitive to the needs of the two sexes and to the diversity of ethno-cultural
traditions and religious backgrounds in Canadian society.
The term “sexuality” is used here in the broad sense intended by the World Health Organization:
“Sexuality is an integral part of the personality of everyone: man, woman and child. It is a basic need and aspect of being human that cannot
be separated from other aspects of life.”
In this view, sexuality encompasses the physical, physiological, psychological, social, emotional, cultural and ethical dimensions of sex and gender.
“Sexuality influences thoughts, feelings, actions and interactions and thereby our mental and physical health. Since health is a fundamentul
human right, so must sexual health also be a basic human right.”
(WHO, 1975; Langfeldt and Porter, 1986).