Sara Samuel is a teenager from New Jersey. She enjoys reading, writing, and playing soccer. She is really excited for the 2010 World Cup, and loves to go shopping
35 of the 50 states in America now mandate that students receive some form of sex education. However, such an education varies from state to state, school to school, and even class to class. There are those that follow a strict abstinence policy; students are taught to wait to have sex until married. A little more flexible, students elsewhere often learn about having safe sex; this includes condom use, contraceptives, etc. Lastly, there exists a median course of advocating abstinence but also stressing personal decision-making. There are pros and cons of all approaches to sex education—as such a topic is hardly simple—but there is certainly a role parents can take in educating their children about sex.
Although the pregnancy rate among teenage girls is declining, it is still relatively high: 117 women out of every 1000 between the ages of 15 and 19 will get pregnant. One quarter of sex education teachers only provide information regarding the use of abstinence as a deterrent for pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, while 50% of parents oppose such a policy. Overall, there is room for a great deal of improvement in sexual education in America.
My personal experiences with sex education were not only informative, but eye opening and fulfilling as well. The sexual education program at the high school I attend was not focused solely on abstinence as the only option for preventing pregnancy and the transmission of STIs. Rather, there was more of a focus on truly fulfilling relationships—with trust and honesty emphasized—with a secondary focus on having sex and preventing pregnancy, etc. Others’ sexual education experiences were hardly marked by sex at all; rather, there was a focus on mental health, dealing with stress, eating disorders, etc. Still more, there are those who would say their sexual education experience was more biologically oriented— the unbiased physiological details, without a dimension of feelings or experience involved. Which way is the best way to be educated about sex? There are certainly a number of ways to go about it, but I have complied a list as to the most salient details parents should encourage their teens’ sexual education programs to include.
- There are those who find fault with the abstinence only doctrine of sexual education. If that’s true in your case, talk to your children about what they do and do not know. Share what you, as a parent, think is necessary but not too explicit. The most important aspect of sexual education, from a teens perspective, is finding a respectable sexual role model—just the purpose parents can serve.
- Personal details and explicit videos are not generally necessary. Teenagers are more than capable of thinking abstractly, and basic details are usually all that is necessary. In fact, too many details and can distract a student from the intended message.
- Stress personal responsibility. Ultimately, the decision to have sex or not is a personal choice. Society, a few semesters of Health/Sex Education, and parental guidance can only influence such a choice. Emphasize the enormity of decisions regarding sex and let your feelings be known.