US schools and sex education

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In the United States public schools, two types of sex education are taught: abstinence and intensive sex education (Feinberg 4). Comprehensive schooling, in particular, helps to educate youth about the age of consent, human identity, and the availability of techniques and contraceptives to prevent transmitting sexually transmitted diseases. Furthermore, rigorous sex education is critical in addressing abstinence as a viable alternative. In view of the abstinence-only policy, sex education has put a strong focus on self-denial from sex acts prior to marriage.According to Gilbert (7), this approach does not allow things such as contraception. However, there is a controversy in the difference between the two techniques as well as the impact on the adolescents’ behavior in the United States.

In general, the provision of the young people with the necessary skills acts as the key to making a healthy decision. Young people are faced with important decisions regarding sexuality, relationships, and the behavior of sex as people grow. In their article, Morrier and Hess (13), notes that the decision people make can are likely to impact their well-being and health for the rest of their lives. Needless to say, young people, are provided with the right to leading healthy lives (Blinn‐Pike 7). In this case, the society is responsible for the preparation of the youth by providing them with complete education about sexual health. Most importantly, such education aims at giving the youth the needed tools for making a healthy decision.

In reality, it is not enough to include discussions of contraception and abstinence by the programs to help young people avoid either disease or unintended pregnancies. For this reason, comprehensive education about sexual health must do more. For example, it must provide young people with age-appropriate information, honest, and the necessary skills (Rees 41). Eventually, such activities will help the youth to take personal responsibility for their overall well-being, including health. For all these reasons, this paper helps in providing a research overview on the practical education of sex, policies, and laws that shapes it, and how it is likely to impact on the lives of the United State public schools (Feinberg 6). In short, the paper discusses the importance of education of sex by highlighting the relevance of open and honest communication when it comes to the teens that are sexually active. Lastly, it talks about the reason for proper sex education to many of the STD’s, teen pregnancies, and so on.

The meaning of Sex Education

By definition, sex education refers to providing information regarding sexuality, human development, relationships, and sex, along with skill building that is helpful to the young people communicate about the issue (Reiss 9). In this case, the young people will be able to make informed decisions about their sexual health and sex (Gilbert 8). The education about sex should occur throughout grade levels of a student. The main point here is to provide students with the information appropriate to their cultural background and development. The sex education should, therefore, include information about reproduction and puberty, condoms and contraception, abstinence, prevention of sexual violence, sexual orientation, relationships, gender identity, and body image.

Only the trained teachers should be allowed to teach this subject. The use of evidence of what works best for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies helps in giving the correct information about sex education in the United States public schools. However, such information has to respect the right to complete and honest information about the young people (Blinn‐Pike 9). Sex education mainly aims to treat the development of sex as a natural thing, and regular part of the development of human. In this case, the teens will be more informed on the consequences of sexual behaviors (Reiss 11). As a result, the teens can, therefore, see the sense of acting responsibly.

Importance of Sex Education to the Young People in Public Schools in the United States

Education of sexual health covers a range of topics throughout the grade levels of students. Along with community and parental support, it is likely to help young people. Such education helps one avoid negative consequences of health. Sincerely speaking, about a quarter of a million teens become pregnant each year in the United States (Horton 1). The more worrying thing is that about 80% of the pregnancies are unintended. In the United States, the people who contribute to 25% of the new HIV infections are the young people ages 15-24. This figure makes up almost half of the 20 million new sexual transmitted infections that are acquired by Americans each year (Reiss 13). Education of sex teaches young people about the skills needed for protecting themselves.

Understand both Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships

Many people are never taught the skills required in maintaining a healthy relationship. These skills include ways of how to negotiate decisions around sexual activity, conflict management, and positive communication. Failure to have these skills can result to violent and even unhealthy relationships among youths. In fact, one in ten students of high schools has experienced physical violence (Feinberg 9). Such violence mainly results from dating a partner in the previous years. For this reason, sex education identifying and understanding patterns of healthy and unhealthy relationships, strategies for avoiding or ending an unhealthy relationship, and some of the effective ways of communicating the needs of relationships and conflict management.

Communicate about Sexual Health and Sexuality

Throughout their lives, people have to contact their friends, intimate partners, and parent about sexuality (Rees 43). Here, learning about free discussions of condoms and contraception, in addition to some of the activities they are not ready for, helps in protecting the health of the young people throughout their lives.

Sex should be Delayed until One is Ready

According to the comprehensive education of sexual health, abstinence is the only 100% effective method that helps to prevent STIs, HIV, and unintended pregnancies (Reiss 14). It acts as a valid choice which everyone should be making. Several programs of sex education have been proven efficient to help young people have sex less often or even delay sex.

Understand and Value their Bodies

Comprehensive education of sexual health teaches the basics of both development and puberty. Moreover, it instills in young people the sense of having the right for making decisions about the behaviors they engage in (Gilbert 9). In effect, they can easily say no to unwanted activities relating to sex (Gilbert 10). Additionally, sex education plays a vital role in the lives of the young ones to examine some of the forces that results in either negative or positive body image.

Respect for Rights of the other to Bodily Autonomy

About 8% of the students of the high school have been forced into having sexual intercourse. In the same way, about one in ten students agree to have been committed sexual violence (Feinberg 11). In general, good sex education helps in teaching young people what is meant by sexual violence. The students are advised on the possible ways of finding help in case of sexual violence.

Protect Success of Academics

Often, academic success is affected by the student’s sexual health. According to the findings by the CDC, student who fails to engage in health risk behaviors always perform better at school as compared to their counterparts which do engage in such health risk behaviors (Blinn‐Pike 10). Unintended pregnancies and the health-related problems can both lead to dropout and class absenteeism.

Show both Respect and Dignity for all People, irrespective of their Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.

Worth noting, the past few decades have resulted in huge steps toward equality or gay, transgender (LGBT), lesbians, and bisexual individuals. Transgender youth still face harassment and discrimination (Reiss 16). Among the transgender students, about 80% have experienced both discrimination and harassment as a result of their sexual orientation.

Current Position

In the United States, most of the adolescents receive some form of education about sex in school at least once. The grades between six and twelve are the most beneficiaries of the program. However, many schools begin to address such issues as early as grades four or five (Rees 44). Other national sexuality education standards including academics advocate that students should be able to define sexual orientation by the end of their fifth grade. Here, the original definition involves the individual’s romantic attraction to someone of a different gender or same gender (Horton 3). Nonetheless, students learn varied things because of the decentralization of curriculum decisions. For instance, many states have laws that govern things that the class of sex education teachers or allowing their parents to opt out. In the same way, some laws of the state leave the decisions of curriculum to individual school districts.

The goals of the national public health for adolescents recommend a provision of a comprehensive sex education. This kind of education helps in calling for an increase in the share of teens that receive formal instructions about birth control and methods, abstinence, and the prevention of STIs and HIV/ AIDs (Reiss 17). Moreover, it assists in covering some wide arrays of topics. Notwithstanding the goals of the national public health, research indicates a growing gap between the adolescents’ receipt of sex education and such studies (Morrier and Hess 14). According to the national survey of family growth’s data, and the survey of the nationally representative household that the national center for health statistics conducted, it was evident that similar proportions of males and females report having been receiving formal instruction.

According to the same report, many teens having a sexual experience (57% males and 43% of females) fail to receive formal instruction regarding the contraception before having the first sex (Reiss 20). In general, there has been a decline in the share of adolescents that receive formal instruction about sex. For example, between 2011 – 2013, and 2006 – 2010, the proportion of females ages between 15 – 19 recorded a decline regarding of the report they receive instruction on saying no to sex, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV/ AIDs (Rees 45). On the contrary, there was an increase in the number of males and females that receives instruction on refusing to have sex, without necessarily having the information about birth control.

The NSFG also documented a significant decline in formal education about birth control. Such report captured the periods between 1995 – 2011, and 2011 – 2013. In this report, there was a fall from 81% to about 55%% of adolescent males, and 87% to 60% of adolescent females (Rees 47). Although there has been a significant decline in the formal education on birth control, about 9 in every ten-young people reports to have received a formal instruction about sexually transmitted diseases.

Curriculum

Sex education classes in public schools in the United States include the instruction on topics of sexual health that includes human sexuality. Either sexually transmitted illness or HIV prevention and the prevention of pregnancy are more commonly required in high school as compared to the elementary or middle school (Feinberg 14). According to the statistics that the center for disease control reveal that there is a decline between 2000 and 2014 in the school’s proportion providing information on sexual health education such as how to properly use condoms, puberty, and abstinence.

Middle school

CDC released a statistic regarding public school middle schools within the requirements and policies in the United States. In 2014, this issue of sex education showed that about 30% of public middle schools in the United States includes information regarding the prevention of pregnancy (Rees 48). Further, about 50% taught abstinence as one of the most effective ways of avoiding HIV, pregnancy, and other sexually transmitted diseases. Again, there was an inclusion of instruction concerning efficacy contraception in about 20% of United States public middle schools (Morrier and Hess 15). In the same way, 10% required that the instruction teaches those students on the proper use of condoms. Additionally, there was a finding of the CDC report that, on average, there was a requirement of about 3 hours of instruction by the United States public middle schools.

High School

A policy and statistics report, based on CDC data proves that 72% of public high schools in the US provided information in 2014. Furthermore, about 76% argued that abstinence acts as the best method for avoiding HIV, pregnancy, and other sexually transmitted diseases (Morrier and Hess 17). Even though 60% of United States’ public high school taught about the efficacy of contraception. In this case, only 35% of the students required instruction on how to properly use a condom. Note that within the United States demography, the average time spent to teach this topic is about 4 hours.

Opinion of the Public

Currently, there are numerous studies about the conflicting data on the public opinion of the Americans and the relevancy of the both approaches. According to the surveys that were carried out over the past few years shows that the majority of Americans are for the wider programs of sex education over those that simply teach abstinence, even though the educators of abstinence recently published data of polls with the opposite conclusion. According to Reiss (22), the national abstinence education association sponsored the poll that Zogby International then conducted revealed the information that the methodically sound surveys has not replicated.

In Francisco, the experts at the University of California also engaged the educators of sex to include oral sex and concerns of emotions as part of their curriculum. Accordingly, their findings were in line with the previous work (Morrier and Hess 19). According to the findings, there should be a consideration of the sexual risk taking from the dynamic perspective of relationships rather than solely from the standpoint of a traditional disease model. The programs of prevention rarely discuss the social and emotional concerns of adolescents regarding sex. In light of the discussions regarding the possible consequences that are negative, as the experience of guilt or a strong feeling of being used by another person, are likely to lead many adolescents for delay of the sexual behavior’s onset until they feel surer of their relationship’s strength with a partner (Blinn‐Pike 12). Moreover, they should also be more comfortable with the issue of becoming sexually active. In general, the identification of the common emotional consequences and negative social of having sex may also play a vital role to screen the adolescents at risk of experiencing more severe outcomes that are adverse after engaging in sexual intercourse.

The Support of Parents

According to the 2004 NPR survey, the majority of group polls of 1001 parents wanted a complete sex education in schools. A total of over 80% of the respondents claimed that school’s sex education was making it easier for them to talk to their children. Conversely, less than 17% of the parents thought that children are exposed to things that are not good for them, especially at their tender age. Additionally, about 90% believed that the sexual education of their children was not too early (Horton 5). Moreover, there was evident of somewhat confidence in about 50% of the respondents that the values taught in the sexual education class to their children were similar to the ones taught at home. However, a total of 23% of the polled parents were somewhat less confident in the issue of sex education classes.

Comprehensive Sex Education

Kaiser family foundation conducted a study in 2002 and found out that about 60% of the secondary school principals uses the term complete to describe their sex education curriculum (Morrier and Hess 21). In the same light, the bodies including the American medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American psychology association, the American college health association, and the society for adolescent medicine all agreed to start an official support to help realize the benefits of comprehensive sex education. According to Horton (9), the primary intention of the curriculum health education is to minimize some of the sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, especially in public schools. The findings of the research on such programs aimed at reducing the teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (Reiss 23). Apparently, a large body of evaluation research proves that HIV and sex education programs aim to reduce the activities of sex.

In the United States, the sexuality education shared ideas of culture across a political divide. In other words, education on sexuality seeks behavioral belief and change that awarded in specific terms that can be both neutral and transparent. At the heart of debates about sexuality, both sexual education and practice lie a rationale, unambiguous, and stable relationship between behavior and knowledge. According to the proponents of this approach, after the puberty, the sexual behavior is a given (Gilbert 11). For this reason, it is vital to provided information regarding the risks associated with the activity and the possible ways of minimizing such sexual behaviors.

Conclusion

In summary, young people in the public primary schools in the United States have the right for leading a healthy life. They must take more and more measures of control of their lives so that they can make important life decisions as their get older. Sex education or family life in public schools in the United States, which traditionally consisted of providing factual information at the level of secondary education, is the most pervasive or general approach to preventing unwanted pregnancies and getting HIV infection among the adolescents. At this point, the young people who begin to have sexual intercourse must understand some of the importance of using an efficient method of contraceptive every time that they engage in sexual intercourse. This activity involves convincing the active teens who often use the contraceptives that they have to continue with the method to help in avoiding sexually related issues. The balance between rights and responsibilities is critical because it helps in setting behavioral expectations. Such expectations assist in building trust while at the same time providing adolescents with the ability, knowledge, and comfort in managing their sexual health. This honest communication helps the young people avoid engaging in activities that can result in unwanted pregnancies, HIV, and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Works Cited

Blinn‐Pike, Lynn. “Sex Education in Rural Schools in The United States: Impact of Rural Educators’ Community Identities.” Sex Education, vol. 8, no. 1, 2008, pp. 7-12. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/14681810701811845.

Feinberg, Walter. “An Assessment of Arguments for Teaching Religion in Public Schools in The United States.” Religious Education, vol. 109, no. 4, 2014, pp. 4-15. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/00344087.2014.924773.

Gilbert, Jen. “Risking A Relation: Sex Education and Adolescent Development.” Sex Education, vol. 7, no. 1, 2007, pp. 7-11. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/14681810601134736.

Horton, Hannah. “Sex Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates in The United States: A Study of California Public Schools.” The Eagle Feather, vol. 2015, no. 12, 2015, University of North Texas Libraries, doi:10.12794/tef.2015.336.

Morrier, M. J., and K. L. Hess. “Ethnic Differences in Autism Eligibility in The United States Public Schools.” The Journal of Special Education, vol. 46, no. 1, 2010, pp. 13-23. SAGE Publications, doi:10.1177/0022466910372137.

Rees, John. “Celebrating Sex and Relationships Education – Past, Present and Future: Proceedings of The Sex Education Forum 21St Birthday Conference”. Sex Education, vol. 9, no. 4, 2009, pp. 41-53. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/14681810903271491.

Reiss, Michael. “Sex, Ethics, And Young People.” Sex Education, vol. 17, no. 1, 2016, pp. 119-120. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/14681811.2016.1169644.

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