Sexual education lessons provide information in regard to a person’s physical development, sex, and sexuality. Usually, terms like puberty, reproduction, abstinence, contraception, condoms, relationships, and sexual orientation, are included in the lessons taught to children throughout their grade levels, by their teachers. Note that the teachers should be trained and the information should be age-appropriate and medically accurate.
It would be ideal if children got the basic sex education they need at home, as well as at school, but however they get access to the information, it should always be medically accurate. There are many students who pick up sexual information even from social media, peers, medical professionals, and so on. Students should also be given instruction on how to prevent unexpected pregnancies as well as sexually transmitted diseases. Always stay informed!
Growing up, young adults have to make important decisions regarding relationships, sexuality, and sexual behavior that will later affect their sexual health and well-being. Therefore, it is important to open up to them from the beginning and discuss these important matters so they can make ‘healthy’ decisions and form healthy relationships. This is why comprehensive sexuality education programs should be incorporated in every school. Not only they are concerned with preventing pregnancies and diseases, but they cover all aspects of sexuality – be it physical, emotional, or biological, says Guttmacher.
Sadly, there are state policies that even when sexual education is required, they don’t reveal much information, explaining only the bare minimum to the children. In some countries, sexual education still remains a ‘controversial issue’ – and it is those countries that have the highest rates of STDs and teen pregnancies. Many parents even believe that sex education programs lead children to sex, but a research review conducted by UNESCO proves these speculations wrong. According to the research:
– none of the programs lead to earlier sexual activity in young adults
– more than a third of programs delayed sexual activity
– more than a third of programs lead to a decrease in frequency of sex
– only 3 percent of programs lead to an increase in the frequency of sex
– more than a third of programs lead to a decrease in the number of sexual partners participants had
-none of the programs lead to an increase in the number of sexual partners
According to Advocates for Youth, many students get informed on abstinence-only programs, rather than comprehensive programs, but this is ineffective because these programs:
– describe abstinence-until-marriage as the only moral choice for people
– mention contraception only in terms of failure rates
– focus only on heterosexual youth, ignoring LGBTQ youth
– sometimes use false information
– are not supported by the majority of Americans
Why is sexual health education important?
Every year, nearly 750,000 teens get pregnant in the United States – 82% of these pregnancies are unintended. Among 25% of new HIV infections are Americans aged 15-24, and from the new 19 million SDT infections each year, Americans make up almost one-half of that number. If this isn’t good enough reason to teach students to protects themselves, I don’t know what is!
Because many people are never taught the skills required to have a healthy relationship, like conflict management, positive communication and negotiating decisions around sexual activity – they often tend to be involved in violent relationships. This is why sex education not only brings up abstinence and contraceptives, but also helps you identify the behaviors of a healthy/unhealthy relationship.
About eight percent of high school students have been pressured into having intercourse, while one in ten has admitted to committing sexual violence. Sexual education teaches students that sexual violence is wrong and what can be considered sexual violence in a relationship. It also helps sexual assault victims to find help and how to say no to unwanted sexual activity.
When you don’t inform students about the risks of involving in sexual activities, they tend to have more anal or oral sex. This way they’re more exposed to STDs. Comprehensive sexual education teaches them to make informed decisions when it comes to sexual activities. Without enough information, students might engage in unsafe sexual behaviors, assuming they’re safe.
Interestingly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), students who don’t engage in health risk behaviors, tend to get higher grades than those who do. This happens because of health-related problems and unintended pregnancies – issues that lead to absenteeism and dropout.
Sexuality education policies by state
– Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia require about both – sex and HIV education, two states require only sex education, while 12 only require HIV education.
– 37 states require to include information about abstinence in their sex education programs, 25 states require to emphasize abstinence, while 12 only ask for the topic to be included in the information.
– The District of Columbia together with 18 other states, require information about contraception to be included in the program.
– 13 states require that the lessons on HIV and sex education classes be medically accurate.
-24 states and the District of Columbia require that the information on sex education be age-appropriate, and 3 states requiring HIV education to be age-appropriate.
– 12 states require discussion on sexual orientation in their education classes, and 9 others require an overall discussion on sexual orientation, while the last 3 require only negative information on sexual orientation.
Sex education books
Parents who want to keep their children informed, as every parent should, often ask for sex education books that are age-appropriate. Note that Dr. Debbie Ollis, a senior health and education lecturer at Deakin University, says that it’s important to sexually educate children when they are young. She even says we should be talking to children about friendships and understanding your body, while they’re at prep school.
Sex Ed Rescue suggests books that are age appropriate for children. For instance, for three-year-olds, it’s enough to know the private body parts, diversity in families and children, and body safety. The more they grow old, the more information you should reveal when doing ‘the talk’. For ten-year-old children, they suggest books that are about puberty, sex, relationships, and growing up. If you don’t want you children to learn about their body and sexuality on the internet, there’s no better way than books to learn about sexual health.
Young people should be able to live a healthy life, and it’s our responsibility as a society to make sure they do so, by discussing sex ed with our children as young as kindergarten. We have to help them take control of their lives by giving them honest information and help them built healthy relationships.
You might also want to read: The Right Ways Parents Should Use To Talk To Their Kids Regarding Periods