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Bianca Benaim

Ms. Joshi

AAP English Lecture #6

30 July 2017

The Effects of Sex-Ed

The summer before my senior year of highschool, I met a girl, Christina, who had a child

at the age of sixteen. I remember asking myself, how could someone my age be responsible for

raising a child? She told me of her amazing future, how her eligibility for a soccer scholarship

and her dreams of becoming a sports medicine doctor were completely changed after this one

seemingly small mistake. She explained to me how movies and the internet glorified sex for her

without forcing her to consider the risks. She told me she had taken a health class in highschool,

however it never delved into topics concerning sex. Christinas story is one of the many

cautionary tales that has occurred due to the lack of sex education taught in high schools. In

todays world, people do not realize the importance of sex-ed and how impactful it can be on

someones life. Sex education should be treated as any other subject in school because without

the proper knowledge, on both prevention and the consequences, teens look elsewhere for

misguided information.

In 1982, sex education was offered in only 36% of high schools (Orr, 304). Because the

percentage was so small, it clearly showed that sex-ed was not highly considered and not seen as

important in the eyes of society at the time. According to Marques and Ressa, in the article The

Sexuality Education Initiative: a programme involving teenagers, schools, parents and sexual

health services in Los Angeles, CA, USA, teenage pregnancy is still the leading cause of high
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school dropouts among teenage girls. Less than half of teens who give birth before the age of 18

never graduate from high school, and less than 2% graduate from college (Marques and Ressa,

124). While society clearly does not care about sex education, this does not subtract from the fact

that teenagers are still having sex, educated properly or not. In 2011 there was about 82% of

unintentional teen pregnancies. The point of sex-ed is to teach teens not only of the risks of sex

but also the forms of protection along with other options in certain situations (Marques and

Ressa, 124).

Schools, however, typically do not offer sex education because the law does not require it

as the topic is considered too contradictory and because parents fear it will encourage teenagers

to have sex (Marques and Ressa, 124). In 1979, 47% of seventeen year olds had taken a sex-ed

class and the pregnancy rate was at 32.3%. Years later, in 1994, 90% had been given the

opportunity to take a sex-ed class with the pregnancy rate at about 37.2%. Statistics showed that

as the availability of sex-ed increases the rate of teen pregnancy also increased, leaving parents

under the impression that offering sex education pushed more teens to think about sex (Sabia,

783). The actual reasoning behind this was the fact that teachers may not be covering the most

important topics regarding sex-ed, and only focused on the more basic and obvious knowledge.

In the article, Attitude Change among Professionals toward Sex Education for Adolescents.

Humphrey, Frederick G et al. believes that there is a growing demand for professional sex

educators to become intellectually competent and emotionally sensitive to the controversial

discussions (Humphrey et al., 332) that often form while providing a sex education. Teachers

will often avoid certain topics such as: abortion, contraception, oral sex, porn, premarital

intercourse, sexual techniques, etc. because it goes against their personal beliefs and because
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they fear criticism from parents (Humphrey et al., 333). Margaret Terry Orrs Sex Education

and Contraceptive Education in U.S. Public High Schools explains how this creates a major

controversy as more teachers avoid topics out of respect for students parents. It stems the

discussion of whether sex-ed is the responsibility of the parent or the teacher further impacting

the progress of sex-ed. Statistics show that up to 48% of schools offer parental involvement as a

way of settling the issue (Orr, 304). Another solution is through the numerous workshops and

classes that are becoming increasingly available to teach educators about how to run a sex

education class (Humphrey et al., 332). These classes and workshops teach educators using a

general mindset, mostly preparing them for a typical public school sex-ed classes. This can

create further problems as schools differ in their specific schools criteria.

Catholic schools tend to have a more sheltered sex-ed program because the majority of

the issues covered in sex-ed are more controversial and contradict their beliefs (Humphrey et al.,

338-339). Marques and Ressas The Sexuality Education Initiative: a programme involving

teenagers, schools, parents and sexual health services in Los Angeles, CA, USA state that

because of schools with different cultural backgrounds and affiliations, from 1996 to 2010, the

government decided to spend over one billion dollars to support abstinence before marriage

programs. This is problematic because it taught misconceptions to the average teenage mind

about waiting until marriage to have sex. It also did not reduce or affect the amount of teen

pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) (Marques and Ressa, 124).

In 1997, the school board in Franklin County, North Carolina took out sex education

from the textbooks and focused on teaching abstinence before marriage. This new curriclulum

included: sex behavior, contraception, and STDs. The county told the educators to report the
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failed stories concerning the use of contraceptives and if asked about AIDS, teachers were to

say only that the disease is caused by a virus that is transmitted primarily by contaminated

needles and illegal homosexual acts (Donovan, par 2). Patricia Donovans "School-Based

Sexuality Education: The Issues and Challenges" believes that teachers from Franklin County,

are just one example of the numerous educators who now bear some responsibility. . . both

because they have allowed opponents of sex education to foster. . .misperception[s]. . . and

because they have failed to effectively articulate the goals of sex education (Donovan, par 7). In

1980 after the recognition that AIDS is transmitted through sex, educators finally realized that

sex education was extremely vital to teenagers (Donovan, par 13).

As sex education became a more popular topic in health classes a specific goal was

created. The goal of sex education is to give young people. . .information. . .that will enable

them to resist becoming sexually active before they are ready, to prevent unprotected intercourse,

and to help young people become responsible, sexually healthy adults (Donovan, par 8).

Marques and Ressas The Sexuality Education Initiative: a programme involving teenagers,

schools, parents and sexual health services in Los Angeles, CA, USA discuss programs that

were created to uphold these goals such as Planned Parenthood. In 2008, Planned Parenthood

was developed as a seuality education program based on critical thinking, human rights, gender

equality, and access to health care (Marques and Ressa, 124). The program included twelve

classes for ninth graders as well as parental workshops. In 2010 another program, SIECUS

(Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US) was created to combat the abstinence

programs in order to further prevent teen pregnancy and give options through planned

parenthood programs. They fought to improve sex-ed availability and to protect the rights of
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sex-ed and in 2011 attempted a bill to repeal the US government abstinence-only program

funding. The bill included a transfer of said funds to a Personal Responsibility Education

Program that purely focused on preventing teen pregnancy and STDs (Marques and Ressa, 124).

Margaret Terry Orrs Sex Education and Contraceptive Education in U.S. Public High Schools

support Magaly Marques and Nicole Ressas article in stating how these programs strongly

articulate that they do not serve to encourage teenagers to have sex but only to increase their

maturity and responsibility and decrease teen pregnancy (Orr, 304).

Through the success of these programs, today about 78% of schools offer information

about contraception and abortion and 90% of schools cover drug, alcohol, sex, dating,

pregnancy, and puberty (Orr 304). State governments slowly began to see the importance of sex

education as an addition to teens schooling with 24 states requiring sex education (including

topics covering STDs), nine states requiring education covering STDs, and four states requiring

sex education with parental consent (State Policies on, par 2-6). While each school district

and each family have differing opinions on the controversy of sex education being offered to

teenagers, the importance of sex education can not be overlooked. CDC (Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention) surveyed 47% of high-school students being sexually active with about

one out of every four girls becoming pregnant before twenty (State Policies on, par 9-10).

These statistics further show the importance of teenagers receiving a sex education in order to be

fully prepared and fully knowledgeable on the precautions that should be taken to prevent the

risks of having sex.


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Works Cited

Donovan, Patricia. "School-Based Sexuality Education: The Issues and Challenges."

Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health: A journal of peer-reviewed research,

vol. 3, iss. 2, 2 July 1998, pp. 188-193. Guttmacher Institute, doi:

https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/psrh/1998/07/school-based-sexuality-education-issu

es-and-challenges. Accessed 29 July 2017.

Humphrey, Frederick G et al. Attitude Change among Professionals toward Sex Education for

Adolescents. The Family Coordinator, vol. 18, vo. 4, Oct. 1969, pp. 332-339. JSTOR,

url: http://www.jstor.org/stable/583158. Accessed 29 July 2017.

Marques, Magaly and Ressa, Nicole. The Sexuality Education Initiative: a programme

involving teenagers, schools, parents and sexual health services in Los Angeles, CA,

USA. Reproductive Health Matters, vol. 21, no. 41, May 2013, pp. 124-135. JSTOR,

url: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43288968. Accessed 29 July 2017.

Orr, Margaret Terry. Sex Education and Contraceptive Education in U.S. Public High

Schools. Family Planning Perspectives, vol. 14, no. 6, Nov.-Dec. 1982, pp.

304-307+309-313. JSTOR, url: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2134601/. Accessed

29 July 2017.

Sabia, Joseph J. Does Sex Education Affect Adolescent Sexual Behaviors and Health? Journal

of Policy Analysis and Management, vol. 25, no. 4, Fall 2006, pp. 783-802. JSTOR, url:

http://www.jstor.org/stable/30162762. Accessed 29 July 2017.


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Shelley, Sonya Iverson. Adolescent Attitudes as Related to Perception of Parents and Sex

Education. The Journal of Sex Research, vol. 17, no. 4, Nov. 1981, pp. 350-367. JSTOR,

url: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3812327. Accessed 29 July 2017.

"State Policies on Sex Education in Schools." NCL: National Conference of State Legislature, 21

Dec. 2012,

http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-policies-on-sex-education-in-schools.aspx.

Accessed 29 July 2017.