"I'm 14 years old and my parents have been pretty good about talking to me about sex. When I was young, I would ask my mom questions about things I saw on TV, or heard, and she would always answer. I think it bothers her now because she wants to know how I know a word or something, but she is still willing to answer.
In school, it's different. We had our mandatory sex ed in 9th grade and they taught about STIs and how you caught them, but the teachers refused to answer any questions about anything else, so everyone sat there confused. It was pretty frustrating.
Most of the kids in my grade don’t know anything about safe sex, but I know lots of kids have had sex. In fact one of my friends is now pregnant. I know from talking to my friends and being at their houses, their parents aren't like mine. They don't talk about sex at all. I seriously think the schools should be teaching us about sex because a lot of kids don’t have this information and need to be taught."
---Jennifer M., age 14
Children need guidance and structure to become productive individuals in society. We as educators must give them those tools and hope they use them to better themselves and others. Unfortunately there are gaps within the education system that need to be filled. We see this most often with the sexual health curricula being taught to students in high school and younger.
There are several types of sexual education programs, however there are three that most school systems use. They consist of abstinence-only based programs; abstinence plus, or comprehensive sex education programs. Abstinence-only programs focus exclusively on postponing sex until marriage. STIs and HIV are mentioned as a result of sexual activity, but condoms and birth control are not mentioned at all. Abstinence plus programs teaches that students should wait until marriage to have sex, but this type also refers to other methods of protection from STIs and HIV. The program that we feel is the most fitting to school aged children is a comprehensive sex education program. This program explains how to prevent pregnancy and STIs and explains the consequences of sexual decision-making, including information on types STIs.
I feel that comprehensive programs encourage students to make smart decisions pertaining to sex rather then encourage them to do it in the first place. Making the decision to have sex will happen independently of the knowledge a child has. We would rather them be informed to be able to make a responsible decision. Not to say that abstinence is a bad thing. In fact its one of the most responsible choices a person could ever make. However we realize that not all students are going to choose that or choose to stay abstinent until married. I believe it is our duty to give students accurate sexual health knowledge whether or not they decide to have sex.
I believe the answer is to present a more holistic program. The program should focus on not only prevention of negative sexual outcomes but overall sexual health and a comprehensive program is the only one that encompasses it all.
--F.J., Minneapolis, MN