Sex education is the teaching of safe sexual practices, reproduction and anatomy and health risks associated with risky sexual behavior. Sex education occurs through parents as the primary social gateway in a family.
Other than family teaching, minors can get informal sex education from their peers and media and formal education from their school curriculum. School curriculum places sex education in higher grades above middle school whose students have a higher comprehension rate of sex education compared to lower grade students.
There has been a debate on whether children should be taught sex education in school or not and there are proponents and opponents in the debate. This essay takes the position that children should be taught sex education in school since there is lack of parent involvement and accurate information.
Parents are interested in having their children go through teen-years without engaging in risky sexual behaviors that jeopardizes their futures as adults. As the first reference point for adolescent, parents are seen to be the best sex education teachers however; parents avoid the topic of sex education because of their concerns that such education will encourage their children to engage in sex (Somers & Surmann, 2004).
Secondly, they fear that they may not possess accurate knowledge on the matter and as a result, parents fail to provide the most important education necessary for adolescents to avoid risky sexual behavior (Somers & Surmann, 2004). Teaching sex education as part of school curriculum would therefore be a welcome move which would help children access the right information regarding sex and relationships.
The fact that some parents lack time, in addition to accurate information, to engage their children on sex due to busy schedules is reasonable enough to allow sex education to be taught in schools. When children do not receive the right information about sex from either parents or in schools, they definitely get information from their peers and the media.
This information is usually misleading and it ends up exposing children to risky sexual behaviors. In addition to being misleading, such information is not discriminative of the age of the child since it is usually not age-censored.
On the contrary, Frean (2008) observes that sex education in schools is customized for certain ages with age 8 to 11 being taught the biological components of sex while secondary school children receive information on sexually transmitted infections and contraceptives.
Some opponents of children learning sex education in school may argue that in most cases such education may go against family and religious norms.
For instance, parents may be strong advocates of abstinence while sex education in school may additionally advocate for safer sex practices other than abstinence. However, it should be noted that it is possible to have a comprehensive sex education message that stresses both abstinence as well as safe sexual practices.
After all, a significant number of school children have had sexual intercourse by the age of 15. To be precise, Somers and Surmann (2004) indicate that 50 percent of U.S. teens have sexual intercourse by the age of 15. Moreover, Kohler, Manhart and Laffety (2007) report that abstinence only programs do not significantly delay the initiation of sexual activity.
In addition, these programs do not reduce the risk of adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. On the contrary, the scholars found out that comprehensive sexual education had significant effects in reducing teen pregnancy when compared to abstinence-only education or the absence of sex education (Kohler, Manhart & Laffety, 2007).
Sex education in schools would therefore be more wholesome and real than the information that parents would provide. In addition, the information would be more accurate than information received from the general media as well as peers.
Frean, A. (2008). ‘Pupils as young as 5 to be given sex education.’ The Times, October 24, 2008. Retrieved May 12, 2011 from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/education/article4998206.ece
Kohler, P. K., Manhart L. E. and Lefferty W. E. (2008). Abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education and the initiation of sexual activity and teen pregnancy. Journal of Adolescents Health, 42: 344-351
Somers, C. L. and Surmann A. T. (2004). Adolescents’ preferences for source of sex education. Child Study Journal, 34(1): 47-59