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Comprehensive Sex Education; the Benefits

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Comprehensive Sex Education; The Benefits

Teens in high school today are being taught that, "abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems (Advocated for Youth, 2007)." The federal government has invested millions of dollars in abstinence-only education programs to relay that message to teens all around the U.S. It cannot be disagreed that abstaining from sexual activity is a sure way to prevent unintended pregnancies and the spreading of STD's among teens, but it also cannot be disagreed that teens should not be kept in the dark on how to prevent these occurrences. Abstinence-only programs have not been providing teens education on how to protect and prevent early pregnancy, and STD's. Teens are being led to believe that sexual activity should only be displayed between married couples. A new curriculum for comprehensive sex education will provide teens with the proper knowledge on how to protect themselves when deciding to be sexually active, and that abstaining is ultimately the best protection. Comprehensive sex education, rather than abstinence-only education in high schools will help a teen be knowledgeable about STD's, pregnancy prevention, and help them decide if their ready for sexual activity.

Abstinence-only education is depriving teens in high school the knowledge they need to make the right decisions for themselves. This program is one-sided and does not give teens the ability or chance to make rational decisions on their own, but rather it tells them abstinence is their only choice and they better pick that choice. The abstinence-only education curriculums main focus is to tell teens that abstaining from sex until marriage is the moral thing to do. Abstinence-only programs also educate teens that condoms do not protect them from HIV and STD's. The curriculum teaches teens if a condom fails 14% of the time than it cannot be effective on preventing the spread of HIV (Bruggink, 2007). The program believes if teens are taught this, they will believe condoms are useless and will make them not want to participate in sexual activity until marriage. In reality, this message makes teens think that if condoms do not work, then what is the point in using them if they do decide to engage in sexual activity early. Other one-sided opinions are being used when educating young adults with the abstinence-only education curriculum.

One type of one-sided opinion that abstinence-only education programs emphasize is religion. It is used as a means to scare teens into not having sex until marriage because God only sees it that way and one should stay committed to him until marriage. In Heidi Bruggink's article, The Lowdown on Abstinence-Only Sex-Ed Programs, she speaks about how some programs are emphasizing wearing the Silver Ring Thing (SRT) as religious missions to commit themselves to God until marriage. Using religious viewpoints as scientific fact and misleading teens with false information about contraception's, is wrong and hurtful education for teens. Every family's religious viewpoint is different and should not be emphasized or put upon any teen during their high school education. A line should be drawn when educating teens in school and religion is one of them. Abstinence-only programs are teaching teens that sex until marriage is the right way to go, but are not providing teens with information if they decide they are not going to wait until marriage.

Abstinence-only education does not discuss the prevention of STD's and pregnancy if a teen does decide to engage in sexual activity. This type of education makes teens confused about what the right and wrong decisions are concerning sexual activity. Not every teen will wait until marriage to partake in sexual activity and abstinence-only education should try to understand that. Because this program forbids full knowledge of sexual activity and the outcomes, unintended teen pregnancies have high rocketed, and STD's have continued to spread. An article by Todd Melby speaks about the message, "Abstinence is the only surefire way to avoid getting pregnant (2009)," and the 1.3 billion dollars that has been spent since 2001 relaying that message to teens. The line chart below illustrates the increase in millions of federal funding between 2001-2009.

Example 1. Line Chart

Line Chart 1. A line chart distribution from an organizational website called No More Money

When millions of dollars are being spent every year on a program not showing significant changes on the sexual choices of teens, then it is time to get rid of that program and bring in something that will make a change.

Comprehensive sex education programs are being overlooked because of the amount of high schools only choosing to do abstinence-only programs. The new comprehensive sex education curriculum is showing promising results and has been assembled to better educate teens in STD's, pregnancy, abstinence, and how to better protect themselves. The table below shows a poll done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, showing how many Americans were for certain topics to be discussed in the new curriculum.

Example 2. Table Illustration

Topics Americans believe teens should be taught in the Comprehensive Sex Curriculum Percentage of Americans who believe these topics should be talked about to teens

The covering of STD's as well as HIV 99%

To learn about HIV and AIDS 98%

To learn how to get tested for HIV and other STI's 94%

To be taught about "waiting to have sexual intercourse until married." 93%

To learn how to put on a condom 83%

To know that "teens can obtain birth control pills from family planning clinics without permission from a parent." 71%

That abstinence is not the most important thing, and that sex education should focus on teaching teens how to make responsible decisions about sex. 35%

Table Illustration 2. A table illustration distributed from an organizational website called Advocates for Youth

Many topics including abstinence are being discussed in the comprehensive sex education curriculum. The Advocates for Youth website provides information on some of those topics including, discussing one's values and what they value around them, how to communicate with partners, how to make smart, healthy decisions, and what sexuality is. Another aspect that



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