Should sex education include contraception as well as abstinence?
Sex education is a subject that has plagued parents and even the American government. The issue in question here is whether sex education should include information on contraception use and abstinence or should it be an abstinence-only program. This is an issue that is mainly based upon moralistic values and what parents think is appropriate for their children to learn at school. There are those who will insist that abstinence-only programs are the best for high school children and there are those who think that high school sex education should have information on contraception as well as abstinence. I would agree with the later, that high school sex education should encompass information on contraception use and their importance and also information on abstinence.
Information on contraception use reduces sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted teen pregnancies. According to an article written by Moglia and Welbourne (1989), research has found that sex education that included information about abstinence and contraception use reduced teen onset of sexual activity, increased the number of contraception use among sexually active teens, and also decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies and the rate of STDs had declined. In a study conducted by The Advocate of Youth Program, they found that teen pregnancies had declined by 21% per 1000 teens. This decline is mainly attributed to the fact that schools were providing information on contraceptives through sex education classes.
Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage programs negatively impact young people’s health. They have a negative impact on youth’s willingness to use contraception and as mentioned before, lack of contraception use in sexually active teens usually leads to unwanted pregnancies and an increase in STD rates. Also these programs attempt to impose narrow moralistic views about sex and sexuality on young people. The republican government has always pushed for abstinence-only based sexual education in high school. This would be an example of the government trying to impose their conservative views on the education high school kids should receive when it comes to sex and its counter-parts. Just because the government thinks that abstinence-only programs are the best way to go, it might not necessarily be the view of the students or their parents. According to the Washington Post, researchers have found that virginity pledgers have the same rate of STDs as their peers who had not pledged. They also found that they were less likely to use contraception to prevent STDs and were also less likely to seek medical treatment. Their lack of seeking help is due to the information provided in the abstinence-only programs viewing pre-marital sex unacceptable. So not seeking help is a way to avoid the embarrassment that they would “supposedly” face from their peers and also the community.
Abstinence-only programs misleading and wrong information to students. According to the Washington Post, in 2004 a Congressional staff analysis found that those students in abstinence-only programs receive medically inaccurate or misleading information. Students were taught that abortion could lead to sterility and also increased the risk of suicide. That half of the gay male teenagers in the US have tested positive for the AIDS virus. As advance as we are in medical research, it is absolutely unethical to still consider AIDS as a gay disease. Also students were taught that touching of a person’s genitals “can lead to pregnancy”. These kinds of programs increase the risk of pregnancies and STDs due to the students’ lack of knowledge on contraception use.
Those who support abstinence-only programs might say that abstinence-only programs have reduced teenager pregnancy, and that medical evidence indicates that abstinence is the only reliable choice for avoiding teen pregnancy and STDs. Although these are very valid arguments, is it realistic that 100% of the youth that go through abstinence only programs will remain abstinent until marriage? The answer to this question is no. Providing students with this kind of program does not give them an option as to what they should do. When they are caught up in a predicament, it leaves them between a rock and a hard place because they do not know what to do. I also think that it is one’s personal choice whether they want to remain celibate but the information should not be kept away from them. This is why I propose that high school sex education should include information about contraception use as well as abstinence.
In conclusion, sex education should also include contraception because eventually the youth will one day have sex, be it pre-martial, or the more desire one, post-marital. I think I reached this conclusion because I went to a school where sex education included both contraception and abstinence. Just the mere fact of knowing this information opened my eyes to a lot of diseases that are out there and unwanted pregnancies and what contraceptions can do to prevent them. Therefore the use contraceptives should be used to teach adolescents how to practice “protected” sex to help avoid STD transmission and unwanted pregnancies.