November 18, 2013
Paper 3: Argument
Word Count: 2,114
The Importance of Sex Education in Today's Schools
"What did you learn about in school today honey?" "Oh, we did some proofs in Geometry, practiced past tense verbs in Spanish, and learned about sexually transmitted diseases in Health class." Suddenly, all goes silent, and the subject is quickly changed to something else. One of the most controversial issues facing today's schools is whether or not sexual education, or "sex ed," should continue to be taught to children. On one hand, some argue that it should, because children need to be properly educated on this topic and the potential consequences that can result from it. However, many others oppose this viewpoint, arguing that sex ed is a personal subject for parents to discuss with their children, and therefore does not belong in an academic setting. While both of these viewpoints have their strengths as well as their limitations, it is extremely important for sex ed to continue to be taught in today's schools. Not only will students be properly educated on how to prevent negative sexual outcomes, such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unintended pregnancies, but also on the wide range of topics related to sexual health, such as communication, relationships, and decision-making. Overall, sex education has both physical as well as emotional benefits for school-aged children.
Of course, there are several reasonable objections to sexuality education curriculum being taught in today's schools. First, it is argued that sexuality is an inappropriate topic to be taught in schools, for schools are a place to learn "typical" academic subjects such as Math, Science, or English. In addition, those who are against sex ed assert that sex is a personal matter and should only be taught to children by their parents. In other words, it is the parents' responsibility to provide sexuality education for their own children (Goldman 5). This would be a reasonable point to make. After all, parents are the "first and most readily accessible of all the teachers from whom children learn" (Goldman 6). Further, children "consistently report" that they want to receive information from their parents regarding sex (Goldman 6), suggesting that they would rather learn about sexual activity from their parents than from teachers. Finally, opponents of sexuality education curriculum argue that teaching this topic in schools essentially condones teenage sex, and thus will result in more teens engaging in sexual activity.
However, these opposing positions have their limitations. Researchers point out that sex ed is "after all, an academic subject," so it is appropriate that it is included in schools' curriculum (Hamilton, Sanders, and Anderman 3). Sex ed is not a class taught on its own, but rather a component of school's health classes. The problem is, people mistakenly believe that sex ed only refers to sexual behavior, such as sexual intercourse, and not the "full array of topics that comprise sexuality" ("Implementing," par. 4). These topics include information on:
abstinence, body image, contraception, gender, human growth and development, human reproduction, pregnancy, relationships, safer sex (prevention of sexually transmitted infections), sexual attitudes and values, sexual anatomy and physiology, sexual behavior, sexual health, sexual orientation, and sexual pleasure. ("Implementing," par. 4)
From this information, it can be concluded that sex ed does not just discuss sexual activity as critics claim. Rather, it teaches students about several important life topics regarding sexual health and human relationships.
The argument that parents should be the sole educators on sexuality has its limitations as well. The fact is, not all parents are talking to their children about sex. A nationally representative survey commissioned by the Planned Parenthood Federation of...
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DeNoon, Daniel J. "Earlier Puberty: Age 9 or 10 for Average U.S. Boy." _Children.WebMD.com._ WebMD LLC., 12 Oct. 2012. Web. 5 Nov. 2013.
Goldman, Juliette D. G. "Responding To Parental Objections To School Sexuality Education: A Selection Of 12 Objections." _Sex Education_ 8.4 (2008): 415-438. _Education Research Complete_. Web. 2 Nov. 2013
Hamilton, Rashea, Megan Sanders, and Eric M
Kohler, Pamela, et al., "Abstinence-Only and Comprehensive Sex Education and the Initiation of Sexual Activity and Teen Pregnancy," _Journal of Adolescent Health_ 42.4 (March 2008); 344-351. Web. 4 Nov. 2013.
Kumar, Maya M., et al. "Sexual Knowledge Of Canadian Adolescents After Completion Of High School Sexual Education Requirements." _Paediatrics & Child Health (1205-7088)_ 18.2 (2013): 74-80. _Academic Search Complete._ Web. 1 Nov. 2013.
National Conference of State Legislatures. "State Policies on Sex Education in Schools." National Conference of State Legislatures, 1 July 2013. Web. 6 Nov. 2013.
Planned Parenthood. _Implementing Sex Education._ Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc, 2013. Web. 3 Nov. 2013.
Planned Parenthood. _New Poll: Parents are Talking With Their Kids About Sex but Often Not Tackling Harder Issues."_ Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc, 3 Oct. 2011. Web. 3 Nov 2013.
_Support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act._ Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2013.
Watson, Stephanie. "Dealing with Early Puberty." _Teens.WebMD.com._ WebMD LLC., 17 Nov. 2011. Web. 5 Nov. 2013.
Weinstock, H., et al., "Sexually Transmitted Diseases Among American Youth: Incidence and Prevalence Estimates," 2000, _Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health_, 2004, 36(1):6-10. Web. 7 Nov. 2013
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