The Jetstream Journal

Filed under Opinion, Showcase

Sex Education: You’re Doing it Wrong

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

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A teenage girl, around fifteen years old, is starting her sophomore year of high school. She has good grades, an abundance of friends, and big plans for her future. During her abstinence-only sex-ed class, she was given false information about the effectiveness of contraceptives, as well as other skewed information.

The first day of second semester, she told her parents that she was pregnant, and they forced her to dropout of school to raise the baby.

This is a hypothetical situation, but it is reality for many teens across the United States.

Sometimes, personal opinions must be moved aside in order to protect others. Sexual education for young people should not be based off of religious affiliations, opinions, or anything other than the safety of the child. Abstinence-only programs claim that premarital sex can cause, “physical and emotional harm,” but isn’t it more harmful to withhold crucial information from teens, increasing the likelihood of pregnancy and STIs? It’s easy to ignore the facts and continue praising abstinence in an attempt to force teens to “follow the rules.” Yet, if you add some common sense into the equation, it’s clear that abstinence-only sex education does more harm than good.

Just as “fake news” is a problem in the world of journalism, “fake facts” are spread about abstinence-only sex-ed, praising the method and spitting out false statements, leading others to believe that this outdated method works. According to Advocates for Youth, since 1998 the government has spent over $1.5 billion on abstinence-only sex education programs for schools around the country. They fund these program in hopes that no one will have sex until after marriage, a suspiciously Christian ideal, which is a rather theological action for the government to take. In the abstinence-only sex education program, facilitators teach “facts” such as the following:

“Research shows that abstinence-only education delays sexual initiation and reduces teen pregnancy,”

“Abstinence-only programs are responsible for the recent dramatic decline in teen pregnancy,” and

“Virginity pledges (public promises to remain a virgin until marriage), a common component of abstinence-only programs, delay the onset of sexual activity and protect teens from STIs.”

Not only are these claims baseless and assumed, but they’re blatantly disproved by research and logic.

In 2004, Advocates for Use conducted a federally funded study to see if this old-fashioned method is effective. The “shocking” results showed that teaching an abstinence-only program has practically no impact on whether or not a teen will have sex before marriage, or on the amount of sexual partners they will have. What’s even more disturbing is that teens who went through this program were even less willing to use contraceptives, leading to an increase in pregnancies and STIs.

New Mexico, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, respectively, have the highest rates of teen pregnancy in America. Uncoincidentally, these states all teach sex education programs either solely focusing on or including abstinence. Then, there’s the brilliant idea of “virginity pledges.” The logic is, if someone pledges to not lose their virginity until they’re married, then they will be less likely to have premarital sex due to guilt and the “binding contract” that they spoke aloud in front of their unenthusiastic gym teacher who was forced to teach sex-ed. Statistics collected by Columbia University show that though this pledge displays a trend of people waiting longer to have sex, it does not cause any change in the amount of people who will wait until marriage. Not only is this pledge useless in preventing premarital sex, but the study even showed that pledge-takers were less likely to seek testing/treatment for STIs, and more likely to disregard contraceptives.

A simple solution to this problem is to make comprehensive sex education the “go-to” for all states. The curriculum of comprehensive sex education includes teaching sexuality as a normal, healthy part of life, showing the proper use of different contraceptive methods and the rates at which they work, providing accurate information about STIs, and allowing students to explore their own religious values.

Abstinence-only education uses scare-tactics; it exaggerates the fail rate of condoms and statistics of STI frequency, and oftentimes, preaches specific religious values. An article published in www.futureofsexed.org reported that a thorough analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth showed people ages 15-19 who received a comprehensive sex education were 50% less likely to become pregnant than those who were given an abstinence-only sex education.

American citizens should not be shocked when they hear that our country has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world, at the rate of 57 pregnancies per 1000 15-19 year olds. Simply put, we are doing it to ourselves. The government is funding programs which are inaccurate, negligent, and borderline dangerous for American teens. In order to protect our youth, teens must be taught the truth about sex, no matter religious ideals or opinions.

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About the Writer
Kaitlyn Waynick, Managing Editor

Hi there, I'm Kaitlyn, and I am the managing editor of this excellent publication. I'm a senior here at Air Academy, a military brat who has moved 13 times,...

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