One of the controversial issues facing the country’s education system is whether sex education should be included in the school syllabus. Over the past few decades, policy makers have stressed on the importance of providing sex education within the classroom setting. This education is aimed at preparing young people to be healthy and responsible citizens by providing them with knowledge on their sexual development. There is agreement that the youth need to be given adequate information on sex, especially as they reach the age of puberty. The controversy arises as members of the society argue over who should teach students about sex and the content of such lessons.
While some believe that parents are best placed to teach their children about sexuality, others assert that educators in the schools should carry out this task. Opponents of including sex education in the school syllabus express fear that comprehensive education on sex will encourage students to engage in sexual activity. On the other hand, proponents feel that providing this education is necessary to ensure that the youth have factual information on sex and sexuality. This paper argues that sex education should be included in school syllabuses because it plays a crucial role in equipping the youth to make informed decisions on sex, helps to fill any knowledge gaps children have about sex, and contributes to the formulation of good morals among the youth.
A Case for Sex Education
Advocates of sex education state that it will provide young people with the information needed to promote safe sex practices once the students become sexually active. The spread of STIs including HIV/AIDS is attributed to low use of contraceptives and the lack of adequate information on safe sex. Once Sex education is included in the syllabus, students will be exposed to the necessary information on safe sex practices.
Research indicates that school-based sex education programs have a positive impact on reducing STI rates (Juping 188). The programs help in the prevention of the spread of STIs since students are provided with information on how to protect themselves from these infections. Students are educated on skills such as using condoms. With this knowledge, the youth are able to better protect themselves leading to better health outcomes.
As children get into puberty, they are curious about the topic of sex and look for information on this topic. In many cases, the knowledge on sex is acquired from peers, the media, and the internet. Most of this information is incomplete or biased and this creates a knowledge gap on the topic. Providing sex education in school ensures that the students are provided with comprehensive education, which fills in the knowledge gaps that exist. Selwyn and Powell assert that educators provide information in a safe environment and answer any questions that the students might have on the topic (219). Without school based sex education, teenagers are likely to obtain negative sex information from their friends or the media. This information promotes the adoption of liberal sexual attitudes by the youth and it fails to highlight the dangers or unsafe sex.
Sex education promotes the moral development of children as they are made aware of the risks caused by sexual encounters. Many children engage in promiscuous sexual behavior due to ignorance. Research shows that most children misguidedly think that they cannot contract STIs due to their young age. Gilbert states that children often refuse to see themselves as implicated to the risks of contracting dangerous STIs (47). This ignorance leads to children contracting STIs or even becoming pregnant while in their teenage years. School based sex education will ensure that the ignorance on sexual matters is dispelled. Empowered with the information on sex, children are likely to avoid irresponsible sexual behavior.
Arguments against Sex Education
A major argument made by opponents of sex education is that it results in the acquisition of intimate knowledge on sex by youths therefore promoting sexual activity. At its core, sex education is aimed at promoting an understanding of sex by children. Many parents feel that this exposure has a corrupting influence on the moral standing of students and that it makes them likely to engage in experimental sex. While it is true that sex education introduces children to intimate sexual details, this does not promote sexual activity. The fact is that many teenagers are already engaging in sexual activities without sex education. Statistics shows that teenagers are engaging in sex today more than 20 years ago with 33 % of American teenagers engaging in sex before they reach their sixteenth birthday (Guttmacher Institute 1).
Jarrell reports that children as young as 11 and 12 years were experimenting in sex and they felt that acts such as oral sex were safe (1). Considering the fact that children are engaging in sex, it would be useful to ensure that they are not exposed to risks. Sex education programs ensure that the students are equipped with the relevant information to assist them when making sexual decisions.
Opponents of sex education in schools declare that this topic should be addressed by the parents. According to these opponents, the family is the unit that socializes the children into society. This is therefore the best environment for young people to learn about and develop their sexual values. This opinion is supported by Juping who declares that the family provides the ideal environment for the young people to be guided on sexual matters (194).
As such, some people hold the view that educators, who might not share moral values with all the students, are not best placed to provide sex education. While parents would be in the best position to provide sex education to their children, the fact is that sex it not openly discussed in many families. Limmer notes that some parents find detailed discussions on sex too embarrassing (351). In addition to this, parents are likely to impose their own sexual values when discussing sex. Most youth do are not receptive to information on sex that is biased. Sex education in the school is therefore the best setting since the educators are knowledgeable and not embarrassed to discuss sex related topics. In addition to this, the material is delivered in a non-judgmental and non-prescriptive manner.
This paper has argued that sex education should be provided to the youth in the school. It began by highlighting the controversy surrounding this topic. The paper then showed how sex education leads to children acquiring important information on sex in a safe and non-judgmental environment. This information promotes morality among students and safe sex practices in cases where the youth decide to engage in sex. From the information provided, it is clear that sex education is a crucial subject and should be provided to students in the school. All progressive citizens should therefore voice their support for policies that promote sex education in schools.
Gilbert, Jen. “Risking a relation: sex education and adolescent development.” Sex Education 7.1 (2007): 47-61. Web.
Guttmacher Institute. American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2014. Web.
Jarrell, Anne. The Face of Teenage Sex Grows Younger. 2000. Web.
Limmer, Mark. “Young men, masculinities and sex education.” Sex Education 10.4(2010): 349–358. Web.
Selwyn, Neil and Powell Eryl. “Sex and relationships education in schools: the views and experiences of young people.” Health Education 107.2 (2007): 219-231. Web.