Abstract Sex education is a controversial topic. Some parents oppose sex education based on the belief that it will lead to sexual activity. However, research indicates that the opposite is true. Sex education that contains a comprehensive topic agenda helps to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in youth. This research explores this topic and supports that thesis that schools should provide comprehensive sex education classes, including abstinence practices.
The topic of sex education is a controversial one. Many parents have opted to have their children withdrawn from the classes for fear that teaching the use of condoms and other forms of birth control will send the message that having sex before you are an adult is acceptable. In addition, some claim that this practice violates their religious beliefs. Teen pregnancy is a pervasive problem. The goal of sex education classes is not only to help to prevent teen pregnancy, but to teach about the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Nearly four million teens contract a sexually transmitted disease every year (Friedman, 2005). This research will support the thesis that schools should teach their students comprehensive sex education that includes the practice of abstinence.
In the past, it was the place of the parents to talk to their children about sex education. There are several problems with this assumption. Sex is a difficult topic to talk about and many parents fail to talk to their children about it. Further, they will often talk to them about it when it is too late. Children are having sexual relations at younger ages than in the past. The timing of talking to children has changed over the decades. Many times, students do not feel comfortable talking to their parents about sex. They often resort to asking their friends. Either way, parents and friends can provide misinformation to the students. For instance, some students may feel that they are practicing abstinence by having oral sex instead of sexual intercourse. Providing standardized sex education classes assures that students have access to complete, credible information about sexual relations and pregnancy prevention.
Teaching abstinence is the most popular message that it sent by the school system. Abstinence is taught as the preferred method of preventing sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. However, it is also recognized, that even though abstinence is preferred, not all students will adhere to this advice. For this reason, information about condoms and safe sex must be presented. The schools are not giving students a license to go out and have sex. This teaching philosophy is based on reality, rather than idealistic personal preferences. The reality is that teens are having sex, regardless of whether their parents agree or disagree with it.
It is not the place of the schools to replace the moral teachings of the parents. It is the intention of the school system to address a real problem that could jeopardize the education of the student and limit their future choices in life. Comprehensive sex education classes will help to not only protect girls from becoming pregnant, they will protect their partners from being exposed to sexually transmitted diseases.
Some of the most controversial topics in sex education classes are masturbation, condom rolling, and issues involving homosexuality and transgender issues. This draws religious beliefs into the issue of sex education. Regardless of whether one is tolerant of these practices, or believes them to be immoral, they are a part of the society of which the children are a part. One only needs to listen to the mass media or look at the Internet to be exposed to these topics. The students will be exposed to these topics whether their parents want them to or not. It is better for them to have correct information than to have rumors and myths as their only source of information.
Just because the student is informed about controversial topics such as masturbation, condom rolling, homosexuality, and transgender issues does not mean that they will automatically participate in them. The parents still have the ability to teach their children their own set of religious and moral philosophy. These morals and philosophies can serve as an addition to the factual information presented at school. Providing the students with factual information does not undermine the ability of the parents to teach their children about controversial issues in a way that reflects personal and family values that they wish to instill. Children are taught about the dangers of drugs and alcohol in schools with the hopes of preventing them from participating in these activities. Similarly, they can be informed about sex education in a way that promotes abstinence, but that does not impose any religious or personal biases on it. The intention of the school is not to pose as a moral compass, but to eliminate or reduce a real threat to the student’s wellbeing and the wellbeing of others. Sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS are life threatening. They are just as dangerous as drugs or alcohol abuse. The goal of school sex education classes is to attempt to help reduce a potential source of harm to the students.
One of the most difficult choices for lawmakers is how to adopt a policy on sex education that addresses both the concerns of the schools and the concerns of the parents. In a recent study in the United States, it was found that 46% of those surveyed believed that both abstinence and contraception should be taught in schools. It was found that those surveyed believed that the classes should focus on providing medically accurate information on both abstinence and contraception, sexual health information that is age and culturally appropriate, a focus on preventing teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It is also suggested that the classes include a clarification of values within the individual, discuss the clarification of family and community values, and communication skills involving refusal and negotiation about sexual actions (Chen, 2014). Chen also suggests that parents be encouraged to participate in open forums regarding the selection of curriculum for the classes.
Recent polls have indicated that most families now support the teaching of sex education in schools to a certain extent (Reuters, 2014). However some a parents still adamantly reject the idea that the schools should teach their children anything about sex at all. Schools now have the option to teach abstinence only classes, which has helped to calm some of these parents on the subject (Reuters, 2014). However, abstinence only classes were found to increase sexually transmitted diseases in one study (Carter, 2012). This study concluded that abstinence only classes had the effect of increasing sexual activity, where full sex education classes had an effect on reducing teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease among teens aged 15 to 19 (Carter, 2012).
The primary reasons for not wanting sex education that includes abstinence along with other topics is religious and personal. While schools do not intend to undermine the teachings of the parents, they also have an obligation to provide students with the information that they need to navigate life. Research based practices in the area of sex education found that abstinence only classes did not have the desired effect on curbing teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Claims that having open communication with children about sex will initiate sex are unfounded in academic research (McClung & Perfect, 2000). Instead, research supports that a curriculum based on comprehensive information is the best way to obtain results in terms of dropping teen pregnancy rates and sexually transmitted diseases (McClung & Prefect, 2000).
While the wishes of parents must be respected when it comes to sex education, the outcomes for the youth must be the primary concern. Schools must provide information that is based on research and that has demonstrated the ability to achieve the desired results. There are certain to be some parents whom are upset by this, but research shows that public attitudes largely support sex education with a comprehensive list of topics. The focus of sex education must remain focused on providing students with the information that they need to remain safe in today’s world. This includes sex education, abstinence, and how to enforce their rights.
- Carter, D. (2012). Comprehensive Sex Education for Teens is More Effective than Abstinence.
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- Chen, G. (2014, January 30). Public Schools and Sex Education. Retrieved from
- Friedman, Jean. (2005). Teen Sex. CQ Researcher.15 (32), 761-784.
- McClung, A. and Perfect, M. (2000). Sexual Health Education: Social and Scientific
Perspectives and How School Psychologists Can Be Involved. NASP Communique. 40 (6). Retrieved from http://www.nasponline.org/publications/cq/40/6/sexual-health-
- Reuters, Thomson. (2014). Sex Education in Schools. Findlaw. Retrieved from