Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Should Sexual Education Be Taught In School

Few subjects are as controversial as sex. The birds, and the bees, the facts of life, and the miracle of child birth are perhaps the most difficult things to explain to a child. Especially when you have children like mine who expect us to elaborate on every minor detail involved in everything. To call it a challenging task is an understatement of epic proportions.
But I'd rather they learn life's lessons from me and my wife than to live in an bubble, or learn from a cold, unforgiving world.

My father told me about the birds and the bees as graphically as possible when I was about 8 years old. I was horrified, terrified, petrified, and any other fied that you can think of but, I learned, and sex was no longer a mystery to me. Unfortunately not all parents choose to have this kind of discussion with their children, and as a result many children learn about sex from their pier's. Many of whom are misinformed, uninformed, of under informed. In this day and time what children don't know about sex can have such a drastic impact on their lives that by not educating them about the perils of promiscuity, STD's and unsafe sex, would be doing them a grave disservice.
I believe that abstinence until marriage should be taught first and foremost. But simply saying "Don't do it" and waiand expecting children to listen, is not realistic, and represents a dangerous form of denial, and a tremendous amount of naïveté.
The facts are the facts.

Even though the teen pregnancy rate has declined over the past few decades, the fact of the matter is that the United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate of the Western industrialized world. Most of the teen pregnancies occurring before 1980 were to married women. Now, most of today's teen mothers are unwed. Here are some more cautionary teen pregnancy statistics.
Despite declines in rates of teen pregnancy in the U.S., about 820,000 teens become pregnant each year. That means that 34 percent of teenagers have at least one pregnancy before they turn 20. 79 percent of teenagers who become pregnant are unmarried. 80 percent of teenage pregnancies are unintended.
Nearly four in ten teenage girls whose first intercourse experience happened at 13 or 14 report that the sex was unwanted or involuntary. The main rise in the teen pregnancy rate is among girls younger than 15. Close to 25 percent of teen mothers have a second child within two years of the first birth.

These are all facts that are children need to know. Facts that could save their lives both literally and figuratively.

The ramifications of not receiving some kind of sex education curriculum, or training is staggering.

Only one third of teenage mothers complete high school and receive their diplomas. By age 30, only 1.5 percent of women who had pregnancies as a teenager have a college degree. 80 percent of unmarried teen mothers end up on welfare. Within the first year of becoming teen mothers, 50 percent of unmarried teen mothers go on welfare.
The daughters of teen mothers are 22 percent more likely than their peers to become teen mothers, and sons of teenaged mothers have a 13 percent greater chance of ending up in prison as compared to their peers.

But teen pregnancy is just one aspect of what can happen if children do not receive sex education. There can also be deadly consequences to being uninformed.

Of the approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV, approximately one in five, or 220,000, doesn’t know they’re infected. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than half of all undiagnosed HIV infections are youth ages 13 – 24.

Of HIV diagnoses among 13 to 19 year olds, almost 70 percent are to black teens, even though they constitute a much smaller proportion of the adolescent population in the U.S. Almost 80 percent of all adolescent infections are to males. Nine out of 10 adolescent male HIV infections result from male-to-male sexual contact. The same proportion of adolescent females is infected from heterosexual contact. Although HIV testing is widely available, self-reported rates of HIV testing have remained flat in recent years.5 Forty-six percent of high school students have had sex at least once, yet only 13 percent report ever having had an HIV test.

As parents we can choose to either have a real discussion with kids, or be advocates for sexual education curriculum in schools. The third choice is to take care of your child, and your child's child, or inquire as to whether your HMO will cover your child's HIV medication. I know which conversation I would choose to have.


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