Sex education for children and teens

Introduction

The increase in the number of teenage pregnancy and the rise in HIV and AIDS cases across the globe have led to the development of sex education programs incorporated in the education curriculum for many schools. The sex education programs entail the training on matters “…relating to human sexuality, including human sexual reproduction, human sex anatomy, sexual intercourse and reproductive health” (Donovan, 1998, p.70).

Other than formal schools providing sex education to children and teens parents, caregivers and public health campaign programs also play a paramount role in propagation of sex education. The continued degradation of sexual morals especially among teenagers, adolescence and the emergence of HIV and AIDS has not only influenced the medical profession but also shaped the education sector to reconsider their sex education programs.

Although schools and higher learning institutions continue to put a lot of efforts and emphasis on sex education, the current sex education programs do not work. The failure of these programs predisposes teenagers and children to risks related to lack of sex and sexuality knowledge. Children and teens in such nations with collapsed sex education are prone to sexually transmitted diseases and unpreparedness for pregnancy later in life.

Although statistics show that, comprehensive sex education on contraception and abstinence in schools help to shape the future lives of many teens, many schools have not yet incorporated the sex education in their curriculum.

The debate surrounding whether covering of child sexuality is worthwhile or prejudicial continue to pull back the efforts of full implementation of sex education in many schools and learning institutions today. Education on the use of birth controls such as hormonal contraceptives and condoms elicit the need for teens and children to experience sexual contacts.

Moreover, the conservative groups advocating for abstinence-only sex education for the current teens and children continue to increase the controversies surround the sex education in schools. This conservative attitude towards sex education for teens and children led to increase in teenage pregnancies and high prevalent in sexually transmitted diseases in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Traditionally, in some countries, sex information to adolescence was a taboo only left to the discretion of the teenagers’ parents to educate the on sexual matter. This information remained concealed until just before marriage. The emergence of HIV and AIDS coupled with STIs has resulted to concerted efforts in responsibilities of training teens on sexual matters between the parents and teachers in schools.

The traditional influence leads to shyness among teachers in delivering the detailed sex education to teens as some continue to view it as a taboo. On the other hand, the continued debate surrounding the benefits of teaching children and teens on contraceptive methods still challenge teachers undertaking sex education.

Many teachers fear uncovering sexual matters to teenagers who are in their puberty stages of life in which the curiosity of sexual experience is high. Teachers fear that the discussion of contraception and birth control methods at an early age would arouse the urge to experience sexual contacts among teens and, therefore, sex education becomes a challenge although it is the importance in prevention and control of STIS, HIV and AIDS and early pregnancies in teenagers.

The confusion on whether to implement the comprehensive sex education or abstinence-only sex education to schools still challenge teachers in their quest to deliver helpful sex education to children and teens in their schools.

The increase in the problems and challenge towards sex education for teens and children led to increase in “the number of teenage pregnancies and spread of sexually transmitted diseases” (Donovan, 1998, p.70) resulting into high school drop outs, and this led to enactment of state legislation requiring the incorporation of sex education in the school curriculum.

For instance, the enactment of three bills out of the twenty bills pertaining provision of comprehensive sex education to teenagers and adolescent in the United States of America in 1998 led to the cessation of the debate on abstinence-only sex education (Donovan, 1998, p.70). The law provided for the teaching of mutual faithfulness, monogamous relationships, human sexuality, sexual anatomy and contraception to teens and adolescents.

Proponents of the comprehensive view early sex education as a major factor in developing moral obligation later in life for teens and, therefore, implementation of the laws enacted gives teachers the confidence in delivering the sex education content. In addition, the provision of financial support by organizations such as the centre for disease control to improve HIV and AIDS education has contributed significantly in encouraging the progress of sex education.

Laws and policies strategy used to improve sex education bears a constitutional strength and background and, therefore, this gives the sex education providers the assurance of the constitutional backing.

Because of this, teenagers now receive sexuality education in junior and high schools in most parts of the world. According to Donovan, a survey in 1995 showed that, more than eight women in ten aged 18-19years said they received sex instruction in their early age.

Lack of effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms on whether sex education goes on in schools as the law provides results into a weakness in this strategy (1998, p.71). Good monitoring tools give a guarantee on the provision of sex education to teens and children as per the provisions of the state laws and policies.

In the United States, almost all citizens get sex education between the ages of 7 and 12, and in some states, introduction in sex education starts as from grade 5. For example, Lickona (1998) observes that sex education in the United States at grade 7 involved puberty education, HIV, how to resist peer pressure and STIs (p. 86). As compared to other countries, the United States practices both the comprehensive sex education and abstinence-only sex education.

In abstinence, only the proponents advocate for complete abstinence until marriage and do not provide information on contraception. On the other hand, proponents of comprehensive sex education urge that sexual demeanor after puberty is real and sexual information is, therefore, crucial about the risk involved.

The focus on comprehensive sex education remains on general sexual behavior and instills morality to the teens. In African states, sex education focuses on stemming the increasing AIDs epidemic with the establishment of AIDS education programs integrated in educational systems. Nongovernmental organizations including the world health organization funds these programs in most African states.

The world health organization being an international organization providing health services including training and provision of information pertaining different health aspects, provides sex education indirectly and directly to teens through the incorporation of AIDS related education in school curriculums and through media campaigns. CDC (centre for disease control), on the other hand, supports sex education locally in its bid to control both AIDS and STIs among teens in many African states.

In a case where my principal appoints me to constitute a group to improve sex education in my school, I would incorporate parents, teachers, educational stakeholder and church leader simply because the success of sex education would rely deeply on concerted efforts of these groups.

For instance, with the support of parents and educational leaders and stakeholder, teachers would be at ease to deliver detailed sex education content to teenagers without fear of jeopardizing their careers. Lickona notes that, most teachers believe their careers are at stake for saying things that parents find objectionable (1998, p. 89). Moreover, the inclusion of education officials in the group improves their focus on sex education. In this case, sex education becomes a priority subject, which is examinable.

My own experience in sex education involved shyness on the mention of sex and sexuality in my early age and teachers as well were timid on the subject of sex and sexuality. More focus in my early age entailed abstinence-only with both teachers and parents emphasizing on abstinence until marriage. Forces of peer pressure and media played the role of sex education provider.

Comprehensive sex education remains a core topic in the educational arena especially during the current era with HIV and AIDs epidemic. Sex education becomes, therefore, essential so has to train teenagers the dangers and risks involved in sexual activities.

Although teachers continue to emphasis on sex education, standards and status of sex education in many schools remain depressed simply because the education stakeholder including teachers and parents do not give sex education priority. The legislation of state laws and policies strengthen sex education as teachers feel supported and are no longer scared of jeopardizing their careers.

Reference list

Donovan, P. (1998). School base sexuality education: The issues and Challenges. Family Planning Perspective Journal, 30(4), 70-72.

Lickona, T. (1998). Where sex education went wrong. Educational leadership Journal, 51(3), 84-86.