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Essay by   •  December 4, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,144 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,812 Views

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This issue is a problem mainly in the industrialized areas in the United States and other countries. It first emerged in the early 1980's. The controversy over an abstinence-only or abstinence-plus sex education is an urgent social problem because the U.S. has such a high rate of teenage pregnancies and contraction of STDs. Of course, this problem did not emerge overnight. According to Professor of History at University of Kansas, Jeffrey P. Moran, sex education took its formal change in the "...'sex revolution' of the 1960s and 1970s, in which rates of premarital sexual activity, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted disease climbed steeply..." (Moran). These shocking rates alarmed educators, which developed "sexuality education... to include information on birth control methods [and] teenage pregnancy..." (Moran). In response to this, in the beginning of 1968, religious and conservative groups did not agree with the explicitness of what the sexuality education had introduced (Moran). Thus, the disagreement of the type of sex education that should be taught became a controversial social problem.

In 1970, "Title X [of the Public Health Service Act was] designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies, and information to all who [wanted] and [needed] them" ("Family Planning"). This meant that Title X was being funded by the federal government, which implies that authorities were in favor with the comprehensive sexuality education. However, then there was the arising dispute of allowing minors with the access to contraceptives and more information about it. One result of this was the Eisenstadt v. Baird court case in 1972, "which gave to the unmarried the false 'right' to obtain contraceptives" (Donovan). It seems that people who were sexually active took precautions in obtaining protection. This shows that with the proper access to a comprehensive sex education, people would make a better decision by getting contraceptives to protect themselves and their partner. A slight issue came up where minors under 16 should not have the right to contraceptives from anyone other than a licensed pharmacist. This was the Carey v. Population Services International in 1977 (Donovan). I believe that this is one of the reasons why in the late 1970s the U.S. teen pregnancy rates rose. If those teens were given the liberty-- not having to go through a pharmacist-- to obtaining contraceptives, a spike in teen pregnancy could have been avoided. In fact, teenage pregnancies could have been lowered in the late 1970s if teens had the easy access to condoms or birth control.

The increase in teens having unprotected sex led to Congress passing the Adolescent Family Life Act, also known as AFLA, in 1981 (Collins, Alagiri and Summers). This "...was designed to promote self-discipline and other prudent approaches to the problem of adolescent premarital sexual relations, including adolescent pregnancy and to promote adoption as an alternative for adolescent parents" (Collins, Alagiri and Summers). The enactment of AFLA represents the first time that the federal government invested in teen pregnancy prevention programs. "The AFLA program awards grants to public and nonprofit organizations to provide services which are essential to the prevention of adolescent premarital sexual relations and adolescent pregnancy and which provide care for pregnant adolescents and adolescent parents" (Collins, Alagiri and Summers). Hence, this would slowly change the teen's sexual behavior, which is seen in the 1990s. However, the effect of AFLA would not take place right away so teens were still having unprotected sex. As sex without protection still happened,

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