By: Kristina Wrigley and Michelle Francis
There are two approaches to sex education, abstinence and comprehensive. Abstinence is defined as school districts not allowing their schools to deliver any sexuality education at all. While comprehensive is the process of students learning and obtaining information and education about sex and sexuality. Schools that participate in teaching abstinence show that teens did not delay their first sex experience (Jayson, 2008).While, schools that taught comprehensive found that those students waited for their first sexual encounter (Jayson, 2008).
Sex education varies in different states. In the state of New York sexuality education is not required. If sex education is taught in New York, abstinence must be stressed and all types of contraceptives, including the Pill, Patch, and condoms must be discussed. In New York it is required to teach about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV, and AIDS even if the school practices abstinence. These programs must be age and grade level appropriate.
Schools start sex education as early as 9th grade. Some students know nothing about sex, while others are already sexually active. In an Illinois school district, over 30% of teachers who are teaching sex education have had no previous experience teaching sex education. Some schools skip over sex education completely and chose not to teach it. In one Illinois school, the boys and girls were separated; boys were taught one semester, and the girls the following. Some parents rely heavily on schools to teach about sex, while others want to keep their children sheltered.
The United States has the highest rate of teen birth compared to any other country; the Netherlands and Finland have the lowest rates. These countries teach comprehensive and well-established sex education programs. Based on this information it seems that teaching sex education affords children the opportunity to develop well informed attitudes and views about sex and sexuality.
As a parent of two children (Kristina), a 15 year old boy and a 12 year old girl, I think first and foremost, it is important to establish an open and honest relationship with your children. Secondly, I feel that schools should have a sex education program and deliver the curriculum in a way that gets parents involved. There are so many sources that children retrieve information from especially today with all the advances in technology. Therefore, it is vital that the information they are exposed to is factual and allows them to make well informed decisions.
I am also a parent of two children. My son’s are six and one (Michelle). I agree that as parents we need to have open conversations at an early age. I experienced this first hand. I received a phone call from my son’s school teacher, she told me during a read aloud in the library he shouted out “Sex.” He was then escorted out of the library by two very upset teachers. Clearly he did not know what that meant. So when he arrived home he did not understand why he was in trouble. As a mother I was very upset over the way this situation was handled. There was no explanation to why he was removed. It made him more curious. I had to explain in an uncomplicated manner. This is what I said, “Is the sex of the dog a girl or a boy?” Is appropriate but, if you say “That girl is sexy, that is not so appropriate.” He was satisfied with that answer. I asked him where he heard that word he said on the bus with 5th graders. He than began to tell me the other language he has learned. I had to go over a list of words he should not say anywhere with my six year old. Therefore, it is vital that comprehension to this subject is necessary at an early age whether it is by school or parent, a choice should be made.
Do you think teaching sex education leads to teens becoming sexually active? Do you think it should be mandatory to teach sex education in schools? So what is your take on sex in schools?
Jayson, S. (2008). How the U.S. Compares In Teaching Teens About Sex. USA Today.