The debate about whether or not sexual education should be formally taught in high schools has been an ongoing conflict about the roles of the education system versus the roles of parents in society. Few would argue that parents should attempt to educate their children as much as possible, but in reality, most children learn more from their teachers, peers, and the internet. Additionally, sexually educating students only in the home can result in deficient information restricted by parental values and beliefs. Sexual education should be required in high schools in order to decrease the rate of teen pregnancy, lower the number of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among teens, and to create the movement for education standardization that would make information resources equally available for all students.
Early sexual activity may increase the risk of STDs due to lack of education. Since the age of minors engaging in sexual intercourse is declining in industrialized nations, the numbers of STD cases among teenagers has increased. In Europe, 10.6% of HIV cases and 75% of chlamydia cases occur in the age group of 15 to 24-year-olds. This country is also noting increases in syphilis and gonorrhea cases (Benni et al. 16). Although many students know about HIV and other STDs, some do not completely understand how they are transmitted (Kumar et al. 77). Sexual education delivers sexual health information to teens, which makes them less likely to participate in risky behaviors (Hamilton et al. 34).
The United States ranks first in number of teenage pregnancies among similar countries, a statistic that could be lessened through sexual education. Teenage pregnancies result in higher dropout rates, lower incomes, and higher fetal mortality rates (Millner et al. 101). Yet, 1.5 million adolescents have a baby every year (Benni et al. 16). Some of the misconceptions that teens have regarding prevention strategies are that the morning after pill causes an abortion, and a condom will prevent pregnancy. As a result of this false information, teens are reluctant to obtain the morning after pill due to personal values, and they are reluctant to use backup methods of contraception (Kumar et al. 77).
Finally, there is absolutely no nationwide standardization or requirements for schools teaching sexual education. An effective sex education program will give impartial information, include ways to avoid risky behavior, and teach teens informed-decision techniques about how to engage in safe sexual practices if the time comes (Benni et al. 36). However, there are schools that emphasize abstinence-only or waiting for marriage. Federally funded programs, such as sexual education, should not be delivered with the restrictions of personally held values or beliefs (Hamilton et al. 36). They should be delivered impartially, with information-giving as the primary goal. A standardized sexual education program would ensure that all students get equally sound and objective information.
It is understandable that some parents get upset when the idea surfaces about their high school child engaging in sexual activity. Many parents have personal values and religious beliefs that contradict the action. Additionally, many parents believe they should be the deliverer of sexual education. This is obviously ineffective as can be seen by STD and teen pregnancy rates. Parents are beginning to understand this, but it is still a conflict.
The solution to this conflict is to create a standardized system that is abstinence-plus. There is no reason not to present abstinence and waiting for marriage as viable solutions, but there is also no reason to leave out the contraceptives and risky behavior that can lead to STDs and teen pregnancy. In this way, the options that are included in each family’s preference will be covered along with the reality of what a teenager may do.
Whether or not sexual education should be required in high schools should not be up for debate, as the teenage STD and pregnancy rate is high in industrialized nations. While parents’ objection to this is fading even in conservative areas of the country, it still exists (Millner 103). That is why an abstinence-plus program would cover all of the options available to teens in order to provide them with objective information about their options, so they can keep themselves safe should they choose to engage in sexual activity.
- Benni, Emanuela, et al. “Evaluation Outcomes of a Sex Education Strategy in High Schools of Pavia (Italy).” Global Health Promotion, vol. 23, no. 2, 2016, pp. 15-29.
- Hamilton, Rashea, Megan Sanders, and Eric M. Anderman. “The Multiple Choices of Sex Education.” The Phi Delta Kappan, vol. 94, no. 5, 2013, pp. 34-39.
- Kumar, Maya M., et al. “Sexual Knowledge of Canadian Adolescents after Completion of High School Sexual Education Requirements.” Paediatrics & Child Health, vol. 18, no. 2, 2013, pp. 74.
- Millner, Vaughn, Madhuri Mulekar, and Julio Turrens. “Parents’ Beliefs regarding Sex Education for their Children in Southern Alabama Public Schools.” Sexuality Research and Social Policy, vol. 12, no. 2, 2015, pp. 101-109.