There is a stigma in the American society. This stigma, fueled by age-old traditions and beliefs has inhibited our country from educating its youth on safe sexual behavior. By providing a comprehensive sexual education, students can become more knowledgeable about and prepared to make safe choices in certain situations. Education would lead to lower numbers of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies, leading to a healthier and happier public.
As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a comprehensive sexual education is: “A planned, sequential K-12 curriculum that is part of a comprehensive school health education approach which addresses age-appropriate physical, mental, emotional and social dimensions of human sexuality. The curriculum should be designed to motivate and assist students to maintain and improve their sexual health, prevent disease and reduce sexual health-related risk behaviors. It should allow students to develop and demonstrate developmentally appropriate sexual health-related knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices. The comprehensive sexuality education curriculum should include a variety of topics including anatomy, physiology, families, personal safety, healthy relationships, pregnancy and birth, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV, contraceptives, sexual orientation, pregnancy options, media literacy and more. It should be medically accurate, [and taught by trained and qualified educators].” However, abstinence-only education as defined by the Advocates for Youth is: “A program which includes information about contraceptives and condoms in the context of strong abstinence messages.” These programs teach that sexual expression outside of marriage will have harmful social, psychological, and physical consequences. Further teaching that abstinence from sexual intercourse before marriage is the only acceptable behavior. These programs can be taught by any teacher and don’t require any additional qualifications.
It is believed by many that a comprehensive sexual education would lead to more pregnancies and “inappropriate behavior.” On the contrary, researchers who studied the National Survey of Family Growth to determine the impact of sexuality education on youth ages ranging from 15-19, found that teens who received comprehensive sex education were 50 percent less likely to experience pregnancy than those who received an abstinence-only education.
Furthermore, researcher Douglas Kirby for the National Campaign to End Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, examined studies of prevention programs. Out of the 48 comprehensive sex ed programs studied, two-thirds had positive side effects. Those effects include: a 30 percent reduction in the frequency of sex, including a return to abstinence, a 60 percent reduction in unprotected sex, and of a group of students 40 percent delayed sexual initiation, reduced the number of sexual partners, or increased condom or contraceptive use.
The facts are hard to deny. A comprehensive sexual education would greatly benefit the American society and its youth. Students will be educated in a safe environment where curiosity is welcome, allowing them to become more comfortable with themselves and their bodies. This path would lead to a more educated public, thereby ensuring the safety and health of all.