The early sexual participation of young people increases the risk of jeopardizing their education by dropping out of school. In addition, early sexual debut puts the health of teenagers at risk, particularly through sexually transmitted infections and teen pregnancy. In spite of the eminent consequences of early sexual acts, statistics show that about 95% of Americans have sex even before they get married (para. 3).
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In a survey done by CDC in 2011, the findings show that more than 47% of students in high school engage in sex with 15% of them having sex with four or more partners in their lifetime (National Conference of State Legislatures [NCSL] para. 10).
Considering the high levels of sexual activities, parents and teachers have joined efforts to delay adolescence sexual initiation through sex education. The research paper reviews where and how sex education should be conducted among young people.
Where to Conduct Sex Education: Schools
According to Grossman, Fryer, and Erkut, “parents’ lack of knowledge, skills, and confidence to talk to their teens about sex may help explain” school dropout, teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections incidences (810).
It is notable that many parents live in denial about their children’s sexual activity and even assuming that they will deal with that situation when they grow up.
McKay, Byers, Voyer, Humphreys and Markham point out that, since schools are the only formal institutions that have meaningful contact with young people, they are in an exclusive position to offer education that empowers children and adolescents to attain developmentally appropriate knowledge as well as skills that relate to reproductive and sexual health (159).
Notably, empirical studies have reported positive results of sex education programs in schools. For instance, in a study done by Fonner, Armstrong, Kennedy, O’Reilly, and Sweat, the findings show that school-based sex education is an essential tool of curbing HIV/ aids among the youth (16). Therefore, the only place where sex education can have constructive results is in schools.
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How to Conduct Sex Education
Sex education should be conducted in two main ways: start early ages and include family members.
Start at Early Ages
Proper sex education should begin in kindergarten. In other words, sex education should be a progressive program from elementary schools up to higher education levels. Students should be taught a wide range of topics such as prevention of HIV/ Aids and STIs, puberty, effective contraceptive methods, sex orientation, communication skills, interpersonal relationships, and media literacy (McKay 159).
These sex education topics should be broken as follow based on grades. Elementary school students should be taught human body parts, basic aspects of life such as bad touch and good touch, and good friendships (Hauser para. 4).
Then, students in fourth and fifth grades should be taught puberty, body changes, and internet safety. Then, students in seventh, eighth, and ninth grade should learn about body image, abstinence, contraception, reproduction, disease prevention, HIV/ Aids, communication, and healthy relationships.
According to Martin, sex education should be taught in a similar manner as history, mathematics, science, and languages, and be accompanied by constructive debates (para. 2). For instance, students should participate in debates on the effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV/ Aids.
Further, they should debate about the importance “of sex education in informing student sexual decision making,” and the role played by media, family, religious groups, and peers in influencing one’s sexual actions and attributes (Kendall 236). Such debates will provide them with an opportunity to learn more about their sexual education, nature, and needs.
Family Members Involvement
Grossman et al. point out that sex education programs should embrace family components in order to increase frequency as well as the effectiveness of communications relating to the support of healthy sexual knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes (811).
Specifically, parents should participate fully through school meetings such as parent-teacher association (PTA) meetings where they should meet with school officials, the principal, and teachers to formulate, change or review the proposed sex education curriculum (Kendall 233). It is through such meetings that parents can express concerns regarding the current or proposed parts of the curriculum.
Notably, parents’ participation in sex education is essential in ensuring that what their children are taught is consistent with their beliefs. Previous studies have shown that school-based sex education programs are successful when they involve family members because of the interaction between parents and students (Grossman et al. 810). Thus, the involvement of family members and in particular, parents will lead to a successful sex education program.
Sex education is important to curb educational and health issues associated with young people such as teen pregnancy, school dropout, and sexually transmitted infections. Due to parents’ inability to talk to their teens about sex, schools are the best place of providing sex education programs.
Using meaningful contact with students, schools have the capacity to provide constructive sex education programs. Sex education among students can be provided through starting these programs early and by involving family members. Notably, sex education should start at kindergarten, and parents should participate in the formulation and review of the sex education curriculum.
Fonner, Virginia A., Kevin S. Armstrong, Caitlin E. Kennedy, Kevin R. O’Reilly and Michael D. Sweat. “School Based Sex Education and HIV Prevention in Low-and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” PLOS ONE 9.3(2014): 1-18.
Grossman, Jennifer M., Alice Fryer, Linda Charmaraman and Sumru Erkut. “Family Homework and School-Based Sex Education: Delaying Early Adolescents’ Sexual Behavior.” Journal of School Health 83.11(2013): 810-817. Print.
Hauser, Debra. “Sex Education for Kindergarten and Beyond.” The New York Times, 8 May 2013. Web. 14 April 2015.
Kendall, Nancy. The Sex Education Debates. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2013. Print.
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Martin, Roland. “Sex Education Should be Mandatory in all Schools.” CNN, 29 October 2011. Web. 14 April 2015.
McKay, Alexander, E. Sandra Byers, Susan D. Voyer, Terry P. Humphreys and Chris Markham. “Ontario Parents’ Opinions and Attitudes towards Sexual Health Education in the Schools.” The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality 23.3(2014): 159–166.
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). State Policies on Sex Education in Schools, 13 Feburary 2015. Web. 14 April 2015.