Parent Talk: Should Sex Education Be Taught In School?
Debate still continues.
An on-going debate that circulates in communities all over the nation is whether or not to provide sex education in schools. Then if made part of the curriculum, to what extent should sex ed be taught?
Should schools teach abstinence-only or an “abstinence-plus” approach, teaching that abstaining is best but also give students information about contraception in case they decide not to wait? Or should schools go even further, by handing out condoms to students?
With so many questions and opinions on the matter, one thing is a fact: teens are having babies. In the United States last year, 712,620 teen girls became pregnant. Minnesota falls right in the middle of the 50-state comparison with 7,890 teen pregnancies in 2010, according to a study on teen pregnancies.
There is no federal law that requires public schools to teach sex education or what should be taught. Decisions are left up to states and school districts.
Currently 18 states and the District of Columbia require schools to provide sex education and 32 do not, according to an article by MSNBC. In some states, teens learn about AIDS but not how to prevent pregnancy. In other states, students are taught a whole spectrum of sex-based topics: STDs to birth control to homosexuality.
According to The Media Project, there is no evidence that teaching abstinence-only keeps young people from having sex. The project claims teaching kids about contraception and condoms does not encourage risky sexual behavior, but rather it is more likely to help teens make healthier decisions about sex.
On the other side of the debate, advocates of teaching abstinence-only say that the percentage of people ages 15 to 24 who have never had sex is increasing each year. A link on the National Abstinence Education Association website points to a study that claims 98 percent of all parents believe they should be the ones who primarily teach their children about sex.