The Sex Ed Debate

16 Mar

In a recent episode of Glee, they tackled the hot debate of sex education–abstinence only versus a more comprehensive educational approach.   You can read a summary of the episode and watch a clip  here.
I’ll admit, I’m not much of a Glee follower, but when I heard about this episode it got me thinking, what do parents/adolescents prefer?  Is abstinence-only still taught in school?  Is abstinence-only education even effective?  So I did some research about current sex education in US high schools and I was surprised at some of the things I found.

In one article I found some interesting information on some of the history on abstinence-only education.

“the 1998 Social Security Act… provided $50 million in annual grants for abstinence-only education… Language in the Act specifies that funds cannot be used to discuss contraceptives, except to describe and emphasize their failure rates.”

The article then goes on to demonstrate the impact that this Act had on sex education in high schools.  It explained that the CDC later did a study called the School health Policies and Programs study and found that 96% of high schools were in fact teaching abstinence only, but that nearly half of high schools were stopping there without providing any other preventative education.  Some of these education programs had been going on so long that 1/4 to 1/3 of the adolescents had failed to receive any formal education about other preventative measures besides abstinence.  The article highlighted this problem by informing that not only did abstinence-only programs fail to delay the onset of sexual activity and number of partners, but by graduation 63% of adolescents  had participated in some type of sex intercourse.

The alternative to abstinence-only sex education is comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) which includes education about abstinence as the best way to prevent pregnancy and STIs but it doesn’t stop there; it also includes “medically accurate” information about other preventative measures. The study performed by the CDC, found that close to 80% of students want an education program that includes both abstinence education and other prevention methods.

So with all that being said, I’m curious to know what your opinions are about the debate.  What method do you feel is more appropriate?  What was your experience with sex education in high school, and do you feel that it was affective among your peers?

Leave a comment and tell us what you think and why.

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6 Responses to “The Sex Ed Debate”

  1. allysong21 March 16, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    The sex education we received at my school consisted of a 20 minute lecture about the risks of getting pregnant. Not too comprehensive at all. I think that a combination of both in the majority of US high schools will be the most effective. That way, students are being warned about all of the risks that come with sexual activity, and educated that abstinence is the best way to prevent any problems associated with this type of activity. Along with abstinence education, the students need to know how to be safe in the case that they are sexually active.

  2. Tarab March 17, 2011 at 3:38 am #

    I think that having both the abstinence and other preventative measures of safe sex should be taught in schools. High school kids can get the wrong idea or believe rumors told by their peers.In my opinion a serious time for education about abstaining and having sex safe are needed in school systems.

  3. emilymclane1 March 17, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    I totally watched the episode and it was pretty nasty. I think everything should be taught. Teens are going to have sex. I know a pregnant 13 year old and it is such a sad situation! I got taught with videos in 5th and 6th grade (girls separate from boys) about sex and our bodies and then were required to take a health class in high school that included abstinence, contraception, and STDs. It was helpful, but teens don’t really take in the info. It is a challenge!

  4. maleriedg March 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    I agree with emily, it’s a huge challenge. Obviously I am a firm believer as abstinence as the best choice, but nowadays it’s kind of unrealistic. Teenagers are curious, not to mention hormonal. While learning about STD’s might scare some teens away from it, the majority will have sex wether or not someone tells them it’s wrong or bad. However, to reduce teen pregnancies and for the teens to realize the gravity of what they’re doing, I think they should learn about contraceptives and STI’s. Then again, it may just make them more curious, or sexually active. I don’t know, I guess I’m just glad I’m not making that choice.

  5. alamb2 April 1, 2011 at 2:37 am #

    I’ve had a couple classes that have brought up the idea of who we want our kids to learn about sex from–high school? Talk in the locker room? TV? I don’t have kids yet but from a Gospel standpoint, it’s hard to think of anyone else having those important conversations about a power from Heavenly Father that aids in the creation of His children other than parents! I’d never quite thought of it like that before! That one of the most sacred powers we are given isn’t treated with such reverence in the world, and it really got me thinking about how I want to approach the subject with my future children. Do I want them to hear it from a source that tells them to be careful in high school, that tells them to go for it, or at home in a safe environment, where conversation can be mature and honest? This procreative power is far too valuable to trust public school systems with that responsibility of telling the correct story!! LDS parents can shed important light on sex ed classes, I think. It would be hard to keep abstinence only values outside of religion, though. 60% of girls have had a pregnancy scare? That pretty much sums it up!

  6. Brett Lee April 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    Such a difficult question, especially when you factor in religious beliefs. It would be nice to support abstinence-only sex ed on the basis of moral grounds, but the reality of the situation definitely warrants more than that. I think there are many who feel that they are compromising their morals to support contraceptive, STD, etc. curricula. As for my high school experience, I don’t feel like it really did much to affect people’s behavior. It simply meant they knew about the risks, but it was nothing particularly significant. I don’t feel like it did much in reducing sexual activity prevalence.

    I agree that the best solution is parent involvement. Whether or not a parent chooses to withdraw their child from sex ed is up to them, but they absolutely need to be the source where children learn about all that stuff. I feel that parents should be teaching abstinence principles, but the kids are going to hear about syphilis and condoms eventually, so mom and dad should be on top of it. They probably don’t need to whip out the banana for a demonstration, but they should trust their higher power in deciding how they teach their children. I believe that God has organized families in a way that leaves the parents in a position to make the best judgment about how to educate their children.

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