Comprehensive Sex Education Essay

1112 words - 4 pages

One of the most polarizing and highly debatable topics concerning adolescent health is the type of sexual education they should receive in school: abstinence-only or comprehensive. Both sides have taken strong, polarizing stances claiming that their sex education program is better. While both types of sex education have their strengths and weaknesses, I believe that comprehensive sex education is a better choice than abstinence-only for several reasons.
Abstinence-only sex education teaches one main concept: to refrain from all sexual activity until marriage. This type of education avoids topics regarding contraceptive use and focuses on the benefits of remaining abstinent and the consequences of having sex before marriage. Some of the consequences of sexual activity before marriage include but are not limited to negative psychological and social impact, pregnancy, and contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). According to a 2010 study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 70 percent of parents and over 60 percent of teenagers agree that sex should be reserved for marriage (Calabrese, 2012). Therefore it can be concluded that many parents and teens would agree with abstinence-only sex education as the preferred method of teaching adolescents about sex. This is one of the few reasons why the government has invested over $1.5 billion in abstinence-only sex education over the last decade (Kunz, 2013, p. 108). One of the highlighted phrases of abstinence-only sex education that educators like to use is “no sex is the safest sex” because not having sex means zero risk of pregnancy or contracting an STI. Proponents argue that while sex before marriage may be the cultural norm, it does not necessarily reflect what is right and safe for society. Just like how there are regulations for alcohol and cigarettes and there have been sessions in elementary schools that teach children to say no to drugs, a similar battle should take place on teaching adolescents to say no to sex rather than practice safe sex (Calabrese, 2012).
While abstinence-only sex education has several benefits, there are marked downsides to this type of sex education. Since the focus of this program is to prevent adolescents from having sex before marriage, information regarding contraception is sometimes withheld completely. Because contraception cannot be promoted, failure rates of contraceptives are mentioned to discourage conceptive use (“The Truth About Abstinence-Only Programs,” 2008). Another downside to this program is that it has a basis of religion tied to it. Since many supporters of this type of education are Christian, Lisa Calabrese points out that “critics believe teaching chastity in the classroom for moral reasons is a violation of the separation of church and state” (2012). The United States was built upon the fundamental idea of separation of church and state and the thought of instilling religious values to adolescents in a school...

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