Sex education is commonly taught in high school health classes or guidance programs. Education on sexuality is controversial because some parents and educators believe it's up to parents to teach kids on this subject. Additionally, debate around sex education centers on the approaches to teaching including abstinence-only, preventative or health-centered coaching. Studies have shown that abstinence-only education programs are not effective in delaying sexual activity or reducing pregnancies. Despite criticisms, the positive effects of sex education are often shown in areas like STD and body awareness, reduced sexual activity, safe sex practices, consent and reduced teen pregnancy rates.
STD and Anatomy Awareness
Sex-ed programs often include significant coverage of various types of sexually transmitted diseases. For many students, this is the first time they go through a thorough review of causes and results of STDs. In the same health classes, many sex education teachers also promote anatomy awareness about the biological side of sex so students are more aware of their own bodies. Regardless of the overall teaching philosophy, STD awareness can either help motivate student abstinence through the sheer fear of catching an STD. Students that still have sex receive information about taking precautions when engaging in sexual behavior to prevent the transmitted diseases.
Reduced Sexual Activity
For people who believe teenagers should not be sexually active, data compiled by the CDC revealed positive news. In a U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study in 2015, the CDC found the percentage of self-reporting high school students who had never had sexual intercourse dropped from 47 percent (2005) to 41 percent in (2015). Additionally, other studies show that 30 percent noted that while they engaged in sexual activity, they either reduced frequency or stopped after their experience in a sexual education program.
Safe Sex Protection
High school students who continued or intended to continue sexual activity at least seem to get the message that protection is important. The Advocates for Youth site also indicated that 60 percent of sex-education program participants stopped or reduced the amount of unprotected sex they were having. Many sex-ed programs include discussion of various types of contraception including condoms used to prevent STDs and offer lower pregnancy risks.
Including an explanation and coaching about consent in sexual behavior is an important part of sex education programs. Teaching empowerment and body control can being begin well before high school. In sex education classes, students can be taught that consent means no one is allowed to touch their bodies without their permission. The idea of consent also can help students report any sexual assault.
Reduced Teen Pregnancy Rates
Teen pregnancy is a major concern in high schools and homes across America. A correlation often exists between the amount of education and the rate of teen pregnancy. A study from the National Survey of Family Growth showed that students are half as likely to get pregnant between the ages of 15 and 19 after going through a sex-education class. The Advocates for Youth site pointed out that programs that teach prevention techniques tend to have the most success in this area.
- Debate.org: Is Sex Ed Having a Positive Effect?
- Only My Health: Pros and Cons of Sex Education in Schools
- Global Citizen: Sex Ed Barriers and Benefits
- Sexinfo Online: Teaching Consent in Your Classroom
- Advocates for Youth: The Truth About Abstinence-Only Programs
- Time: Fewer High School Students are Having Sex, CDC Says