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Sex Education in the United States

Essay by Samantha Lee  •  May 14, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  911 Words (4 Pages)  •  394 Views

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Sex Education in the U.S.

Samantha Lee

Professor Crouch

Adolescent Psychology 216-160

1 May 2018

 As a child grows into adolescence, they face important decisions about relationships, sexuality, and sexual behavior. Not only do they wonder about sex in general, they wonder how they should behave sexually, if they are sexually attractive, and who they are attracted to. The decisions they make during this time in their life can really impact their health and their wellbeing and the wellbeing of the person they are doing sexual acts with. Sex is natural and pleasurable, but it can be risky. Sexually active teens have the right to live a healthy life and we in America have the responsibility of giving them a good education about sex, but we don’t. In the U.S., we focus more on sex prevention than sex education.

What is sex education? Sex education is the education on human sexuality, human sexual anatomy, sexual activity, sexual reproduction, age of consent, reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe sex, birth control and, of course, sexual abstinence. The sex education that teenagers should receive and what they actually receive is on a large scale and varies from state to state. The sex education policy in each state is governed by a state law regarding the State Department of Education and establishes the states standards on how and when sex education should be taught. As of 2012, 30 states have no law that governs sex education, and schools are not required to provide it. 25 states mandate that sex education, if taught, must include abstinence, but do not require it to include contraception, and six states mandate that sex education include either a ban on discussing homosexuality, or material about homosexuality that is overtly discriminatory (Bridges). Not only that, but a more surprising statistic according to the Department of Nursing at the university of Southern California, only 13 states in the nation require sex education to be medically accurate. Although the state has a set of guidelines for sex education, it is ultimately up to the school district and the individual teaching.

The U.S. needs better laws regarding sex education because adolescents will engage in risky behavior regardless of whether they are taught abstinence or not.  Federal policy makers have provided large amounts of funding for abstinence-only education; programs that ignore youth’s basic human right and balanced sex education. They believe that abstinence-only education delays sexual initiation and reduces teen pregnancy, but according to Advocates for Youth, abstinence-only education programs are not effective at delaying the initiation of sexual activity or in reducing teen pregnancy. They also stated that a federally-funded evaluation of four carefully selected abstinence-only education programs, published in April 2007, showed that youth enrolled in the programs were no more likely than those not in the programs to delay sexual initiation, to have fewer sexual partners, or to abstain entirely from sex. So, what is wrong abstinence only sex education?

This form of sex education depicts abstinence until marriage as the only moral choice for adolescents, that contraceptives usually fail, uses outdated gender roles, uses false information, and ignores the LGBT community. This form of education withholds information from the students and ultimately leaves them completely at risk. Abstinence only programs are used to scare teenagers into not having sex instead of being responsible. So, what type of sex education should we be using?

Comprehensive sex education is a much better option for, not only adolescents, but for children in general. This form of sex education involves kids K- 12 and addresses age-appropriate physical, mental, emotional and social dimensions of sexuality. The curriculum includes topics in anatomy, physiology, families, healthy relationships, pregnancy/birth, STI’s, contraceptives, and sexual orientation. The information is provided by qualified teachers and is medically accurate.



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