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Sex Education Does It Really Work Essay

Sex Education: Does It Really Work? Essay, Research Paper Sex Education: Does it Really Work? Roy Peters “Forty percent of today’s fourteen year old girls will become pregnant

Sex Education: Does It Really Work? Essay, Research Paper

Sex Education: Does it Really Work?

Roy Peters

“Forty percent of today’s fourteen year old girls will become pregnant

by the time they are nineteen” (qtd. in “The Effects” 632). This statistic may

indicate that the sex education programs in the United States are not

controlling the effects of sex by teens. “The United States has the highest

teen pregnancy rate of developed countries” (”The Effects” 632). I believe

that the people of this nation need to look at the current sex education

programs and see if they are properly addressing the problems that sex education

was intended to stop. The three major reasons why sex education is taught in

our schools are: 1) to discourage teens from having sex at younger and younger

ages; 2) to stop the spread of AIDS and other STDs; and 3) to prevent teenage

pregnancy. I believe that the sex education programs being used today are not

effective at controlling these three problems. Today’s sex education programs

are abstinence based. “Washington has spent some $31.7 million developing

abstinence only curricula” (Shapiro 56). By looking at the problems sex

education tries to solve, we can improve the sex education programs by putting

the problems in order of importance. This will prove that teens having sex at a

younger age is the reason for the failure of sex education in this country. To

counteract this problem abstinence should be taught to children under the age of

16. Then when the children reach the age of 16 they need to be taught AIDS and

condom education.

AIDS and other STDs are an important reason we have sex education. AIDS

education is supported in all fifty states: “Sex education is only formally

required or recommended in 47 states” (Gibbs 61). This shows that AIDS

education is considered more important than sex education. AIDS can be spread

by the transfer of bodily fluids such as blood or semen from an infected person

to one who is not. This includes sexual activity, intravenous drug use, and

blood transfusions. Many people are still contracting AIDS through sexual

contact even though there has been a nationwide awareness program. It is a fact

that “2.5 million teenagers are affected by sexually transmitted diseases each

year” (”The Effects” 632). This statistic does not take into account AIDS cases.

That is a large number of teens that are missing the message about safe sex and

abstinence. This shows how poorly our current system of sex education is

working. Because if it was effective, these numbers would be much lower than

what they are. Condoms can prevent the spread of AIDS sexually, but the use of

condoms requires a change in one’s sexual habits. “Once patterns of sexual

intercourse and contraceptive use are established, they may be difficult to

change” (qtd. in Whitehead 69). “One survey shows that among sexually active 15

year olds, only 26 percent of boys and 48 percent of girls had sex education by

the time they had first intercourse” (Shapiro 58). This is one reason that

AIDS education has not been totally successful. It relies on sex education to

stress condom use, but many young teens are forming their patterns of

contraceptive use or nonuse before they are educated enough to make the right

decision.

Another major problem sex education tries to solve is teen pregnancy.

“American teenage females experience about one million unplanned pregnancies

each year” (”The Effects” 632). “About thirty-seven percent of teenage

pregnancies end in abortion and about fourteen percent in miscarriage”

(Whitehead 73). The social consequences of teens having children are great. If

a teenage mother does not finish high school or become married there is a

seventy-nine percent chance that the mother and the child will be poor

(Whitehead 73). Teenage girls have greater control over their fertility today

than they had in the past, and yet the percentage of births to unwed mothers

continues to rise (Whitehead 73). This shows that sex education has failed to

slow the rate of teen pregnancy.

Teens in this country are having sex at a younger and younger age. “In

1970, five percent of fifteen year old girls and 32 percent of seventeen year

old girls reported having had sex; by 1988 the figures had increased to twenty-

six percent of fifteen year old girls and fifty-one percent of seventeen year

olds” (Whitehead 72). Another survey by the Centers for Disease Control also

came up with similar numbers. They reported 40% of 15 year olds reported having

sex in 1993; but in 1970 only 10% of 15 year olds reported having sex (Shapiro

57). This shows how dramatic the increase of young sexually active teen girls

is. This may not seem like a problem at first glance, but when you look at the

circumstances surrounding young girls having sex the problem becomes clear.

“The younger a girl is when she begins to have sex, the more vulnerable she is

to its risks. She is less likely than an older teenager to be in a steady

relationship, to plan her first intercourse, or to use contraception” (Whitehead

74.)

As a result, girls who had their first intercourse at age fifteen or

younger are almost twice as likely as eighteen year olds to become pregnant

within the first six months of sexual activity (Whitehead 74). Some researchers

believe that teenage girls are at greater risk for STDs than adult women because

their cervical lining is not yet fully mature and is therefore more vulnerable

to pathogens (Whitehead 73). These facts indicate that young teens engaging in

sex are not protecting themselves properly. This proves that teens having sex

at a younger age are more vulnerable to AIDS and pregnancy.

Summarizing, I feel that sex education does not effectively protect

teens from the consequences of having sex. I also feel that because teens are

having sex at a younger age than ever before, they are outrunning the sex

education programs. These programs were not designed for teens that are having

sex at the age of twelve. This causes sex education to fail because many teens

are having sex before they are receiving sex education in the high schools.

Also, many of the sex education programs are abstinence based, and teens are

having sex. Without proper knowledge of how to use a condom, many teens are

left unprotected from diseases and pregnancy. To solve these problems a number

of changes in the sex education system need to be made. Sex education needs to

be taught in schools at a younger age. Sex education also should teach teens

how to use a condom and teach AIDS education.

First, sex education needs to be taught in schools. Many parents do not

know the facts about AIDS or diseases. Having parents teaching their children

sex education at home is only going to put strain on the parents, and it will

leave some teens uneducated about sex. Many parents would choose not to teach

their children about sex education, because they feel uncomfortable talking to

their children about sex. Public opinion agrees that sex education should be

taught in schools. “Nine in 10 Americans agree: Schools should teach kids about

sex” (Shapiro 56). What Americans disagree on is what form of education should

be taught in schools. I believe that parents should be offered the opportunity

to come to the sex education class’s with their children, so they can learn what

information their child is receiving. That way the schools could act as a

beginning point for the parents and child to talk about sex comfortably in their

home. It would also solve the problem of parents who disagree about what should

be taught.

I believe that their should be two different levels of sex education for

children of different age groups. Children under the age of 16 should only be

taught abstinence. This would slow the trend of 13, 14, 15 year olds having sex.

It would also decrease the numbers of teen pregnancy because these girls are

the most likely to become pregnant. Teen girls of this age group are also more

likely to get a sexually transmitted disease, because they are more likely to

have sex with older more experienced teenagers. In a survey 75% of women had

first intercourse with a partner older than themselves, and 51% of these

partners were already sexually experienced (Sex Education 900). Teaching

abstinence to these young teens would encourage them to say no. I also think

that teens over the age of 16 should be taught condom and AIDS education. This

would allow older teens that engage in sex the protection they need. It would

decrease the threat of AIDS and pregnancy. The key to the age separation is

that at some time eventually nearly everyone has sex. By not teaching teens in

school about AIDS and birth control they would not have received much of the

information they need to know about the risks of sex and how to protect yourself.

First abstinence training needs to be taught in school at the age of 10.

This is a young enough age that all the children should be in the program before

they make and uneducated decision about sex. The children should be taught some

type of abstinence training every year at least and once a semester would be

better. The classes would have to be 30-40 minutes long 5 days a week for about

2-4 weeks. That would be enough time to make the programs effective. These

classes should teach the young teens how to say no to an over aggressive partner,

what the risks of having sex are, and how healthy relationships work. This

would provide the young teens a way to examine their relationships and determine

the quality of them before they have sex. One boy told Sheehan this, “I’d like

to hear more stories….how they met….how they kept the love alive” (Sheehan

11). This proves that many teens want to learn about relationships. They want

to learn about what makes a good relationship and how to maintain it and this is

the perfect age to start teaching these skills to the young teens.

The second part of sex education should include AIDS and condom

education. This program would be taught at the age of 16 and up. I think these

classes should also be taught once a year because at the high school level it

is harder to find time for sex education classes. This program should be 4

weeks long and 45 minutes a day. It should be taught very interactively not as

a lecture. There should be a lot of time devoted for discussion of the issues

covered each day and for questions. There should also be a private councilor

available to the students that need it. The AIDS education portion of the class

would discuss how AIDS is spread. It should also discuss the effects AIDS has

on your body when you contract the disease and teach people to be sensitive to

people who have AIDS. Along with AIDS education condom education must be taught.

Condoms use is the only way that AIDS can be prevented sexually besides

abstinence. Without good condom education AIDS will spread out of control by

sexual intercourse. The condom education program should stress that condoms are

the best contraceptive devise for most teens sexual patterns. Condoms prevent

the spread of disease, and they also prevent pregnancy. Condoms education

should also stress that condoms are not 100% effective. “Changes in temperature,

rough handling or age can cause the latex to weaken or become gummy, it is

important to store condoms properly and handle them with care” (qtd. in

Whetstone 98). The program should teach teens the proper way to use a condom

and the proper way to store them. This would decrease teen pregnancy and

sexually transmitted diseases too. I also think that the relationship aspect

that would be taught to the earlier age group should also be taught to this age

group. The teens at this age would already have a good idea of what they would

like in a relationship and the program could go more in depth that way. This

step of the sex education process would really focus on getting teens ready to

handle a sexual relationship in their adult lives. This program would not just

include condom and AIDS education but it would include life skills.

In conclusion I feel that sex education should be taught in schools at

the age of 10. Some teens are having sex at age 12 or younger so sex education

needs to be taught at a very early age. Sex education should include abstinence

training for teens under the age of 16 and condom and AIDS education for teens

over the age of 16. The abstinence portion of the program would discourage

teens under the age of 16 from having sex. This is the highest risk group for

the risk of pregnancy and the spread of disease. The second part of the program

would teach older teens the relationship skills they will need in the future and

stress condom use and AIDS education. Together the 2 parts of this program with

produce the desired results that other sex education programs in the past have

failed to produce.

Works Cited

Gibbs, Nancy R. “How Should We Teach Our Children About Sex?” Time 41 (May 24

‘93): 60-6.

Shapiro, Joseph P. “Teenage Sex: Just Say ‘Wait’.” U.S. News &World Report

115 (July 26 ‘93): 56-9.

“Sex Education in Schools: Peers to the Rescue.” Lancet 344 (Oct. 1 ‘94): 899-

900.

Sheehan, Sharon A. “Another Kind of Sex Ed.” Newsweek 120 (Oct. ‘94): 10-11.

“The Effects of Three Abstinence Sex Education Programs on Student Attitudes

Towards Sexual Activity.” Adolescence 26 (Fall ‘91): 631-41.

Whetstone, Muriel L. “How Safe Is Safe Sex.” Ebony 49 (July ‘94): 96-8.

Whitehead, Barbara Dafoe. “The Failure of Sex Education.” Atlantic Monthly 274

(Oct.’94): 55-80.

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