Sex Education: Honesty is the Best Policy

According to a recent article in the New York Times, teen pregnancy rates are on the rise after almost ten years on the decline. While the article talks about some of the data related to the rise, including higher abortion rates in teenage girls and how in light of all of the data and statistics, there is still $150 million in Federal funding that is for abstinence-only (no mention of contraceptives) sex education.

I just recently have done a research paper about our country’s need for comprehensive sexual education, which is sex ed that covers not only contraceptives but STDs, healthy relationships, heterosexual and homosexual relationships, and where to go if you need help.  While it would seem that our country, now more than ever, needs to be teaching a complete curriculum of sex education, some are still against teaching contraceptive use and other sex related issues.

In this day and age of instant information and media overload, education needs to catch up with all the images and ideas kids and teens get from not only peers but the media, especially the internet. Not that the internet and TV are entirely to blame for the sometimes sex-obsessed culture we live in but they certainly don’t help anything. Add to all the images and MySpace accounts the lack of all around sexual education and it’s no wonder the statistics of teen pregnancy and STDs are on the rise.

So if there is still a large part of the country opposed to teaching kids about condoms and what to do if they find themselves in unwanted situations, can we realistically expect anything other than higher rates of teen pregnancy and STDs and the commonality of teen dating violence?

While there is no simple answer to the question of sexual education, there needs to be a safe place for teens and young adults to go to ask questions and get help without fear of judgment.  I have seen articles about a texting service where kids and young adults can text questions or concerns and receive nonjudgmental responses. Programs like that and some afterschool sexual education groups can give our youth today a safe place to express themselves and get the information they need to be healthy.

While Obama has made it known that he intends to direct attention and funds to preventing teen pregnancy through education, we can expect that it will take time and will encounter its fair share of opposition. In the meantime what can we as Americans do to help educate and keep the youth today safe and healthy?

For starters lets all agree to disagree. Because everyone has their own opinion on the matter of sexual education and we should all respect each other’s rights to those opinions. However, we should also try and find a way to educate today’s youth about sex and relationships in a way that is unprejudiced and comprehensive, which means teaching about abstinence and contraceptives can coexist. So perhaps we should act now and argue later.

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