Graduate project: Blog 1: Sex education
Alright, kids. Here is the first of four blogs I wrote for my graduate research project.
And awaaaaay we go!!!
BLOG 1 FOR: “DIRECT LINE”
Topic of the week: Sex education
I don’t know about you guys, but sex education was never the class I feared. I referred to sex ed as my “freebie course.” The class was a quarter semester long during my sophomore year. Regular attendance was hardly necessary, and health took the place of my gym class, the hour of my life I most loathed when I was 16.
My health class didn’t challenge me, and while I didn’t mind that it was easy, when I got home, I couldn’t help but think, “I wish we would talk about birth control, where I can buy condoms and what type of activity besides sex spreads sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Ugh. Personal research time.”
Amber, a teen from Kansas, says her sex ed program was about as informative as mine.
“We talked a lot about anorexia, and not a lot about anything else,” Amber said.
Amber, unlike most teens, has the benefit of having a mother she trusts who is a labor and delivery nurse, so all of her sex and health questions were answered quickly. Many times, Amber’s friends would approach her, knowing what her mom did for a living and ask her health questions that were not answered in school.
“No one really knew options if they wanted to have sex.”
Unfortunately, other teens have found themselves in a similar situation and are left searching for others to talk to about sex.
The Catholic school that Monica, a teen from California, attended her freshman year of high school did not even discuss sex. “There was no mention of sex at all.”
Monica received most of her information about sex from friends who were more experienced. She says she would have never asked her parents about sex because it would have upset them to know she was sexually active.
Sometimes teens don’t talk to anyone about sex.
Crystal, a teen from Kansas, says she looked up her questions on the Internet so she wouldn’t appear dumb and be embarrassed.
Part of the reason teens don’t know their contraceptive options and have a lot of other sex questions is because abstinence-only programs are used in about 25 percent of the United States 16,000 school districts.
That statistic is bad because a study from the Journal of Adolescent Health found that the median age young women have sex is 17.4 years, right when they are in high school.
In an ideal world all teens would have sex with someone they love, no one would catch an STD and every woman could choose when she got pregnant. Sorry to say, the world is not a happy fairy wonderland. Teens mess up.
Why can’t there be more sex education programs that discuss abstinence and contraception? Having information about both options in class is certainly better than having a student catch a STD or get pregnant.
Sex ed programs would be more effective it they taught abstinence and explained birth control options says Mary, a teen from Kansas. Mary says abstinence should be the foundational message teens receive because it teaches self respect, but contraceptives should be explained because there will always be those who chose not to abstain.
Sarah, a teen from Missouri, feels similarly. “Teens are going to do what they want and it is just better to inform them of all options so they can be better prepared.”
Teens are getting their sex questions answered through different sources. Whether it is in school, at home or a friend, the dialogue should be open to promote an atmosphere of non-judgment.
So, what do you think about sex education?