(Opinion) The Importance of Sex Education

Alexa Ward, Editor-in-Chief

This article is an editorial and was written to show the author’s stance on an issue. It is not a representation of the opinion of CLHS or CCISD.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, with the goal of spreading awareness and aiding the prevention of sexual harassment, assault and abuse. Survivors and supporters alike come together to share facts, resources and techniques to accomplish this goal.

One of the most advocated ways to prevent sexual assault from occurring is education and discussion. Talking about how it happens and how to prevent it builds a community of understanding that can help lower cases in the future.

Nineteen states in the U.S., including Texas, currently require that abstinence-only sex ed be the only sex education available to teens. While abstaining from sex is the only way to 100% prevent pregnancy and STDs, an abstinence-only sex education does not fully prepare or educate students on the workings of intercourse, or how to make sure that any sex had is safe and consensual.

Having a short few class periods in which a student is lectured on the dangers of sex isn’t effective in preventing teens from engaging in sexual behavior. In Texas, only 16% of school districts offer abstinence-plus (emphasizes abstinence above all but informs on birth control methods also), 58% teach abstinence-only and 25% don’t offer sex education at all.

Texas also has the ninth-highest teen birth rate in the country, with a baby born to a teen mother approximately once every 21 minutes.

According to a study conducted by the University of Washington, teens who received comprehensive sex education were 60% less likely to report becoming pregnant or impregnating someone than those who received no sex education. Alongside this, the likelihood of pregnancy was 30% lower among those who had abstinence-only education compared to those who received no sex education.

A common misconception held by the supporters of abstinence-only education is that teaching students about birth control methods will encourage sexual behavior. However, many teens who receive abstinence-only education will still engage in sexual activities before they are married. If they are not properly educated about birth control, contraceptives and STD prevention, they will be having unsafe sex, which increases the chance that students will catch STDs or impregnate someone or become impregnated.

Research has also found that students who receive limited or no sex education don’t fully understand consent, which can lead to sexual harassment, assault and abuse among teens and adults.

“Currently, the minimum curriculum standards for health education at the middle school level require very little instruction around reproductive health: some basic information on puberty, some information on sexually transmitted infections, and several standards around the importance of abstinence,” Jen Biundo, Director of Policy and Data for the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy said.

Increasing the stress put on consent and respecting boundaries is one of the best ways to prevent students everywhere from being assaulted.

“Improvement of sex education would teach a lot of people what consent is, what rape is and what to do if you’ve been through an assault,” senior Geneva Yocham said . “I fear that too many people don’t know how to ask for consent or understand boundaries.”

Schools across Texas and the US need to increase availability of sex education and sexual assault awareness and resources to truly protect students from assault.

 

Sources:

 

Healthy Futures of Texas

Teen Health Mississippi

PR Newswire

National Sexual Violence Research Center

Newswise

World Population Review