Sex Education: The Basics of Empowering Our Youth
Sex education, the instruction of topics relating to reproduction, sexual health, and sexual behavior, has been a hot button issue for decades. As public opinion varies from school district to school district, it remains to be seen how to best prepare our young people in order to equip them with the knowledge they need to make full, educated, and informed decisions about their relationships, and their personal health and safety.
It is often argued that sex education should be a part of the general education system, however, questions remain on the exact information that is appropriate to provide, and exactly when and how this information should be shared. This article will strive to lay out some basic facts about sex education, explore differences in teaching approaches, and discuss the importance of providing comprehensive sex education to our youth.
Though opinions on the matter can vary drastically, the facts remain that sex education has been growing since the beginning of the 20th century. The United States saw first forms of sex education in the 1950s, though mostly as a moral and religious instruction. Since then, sex education activities have grown to include various topics, making sex education more and more comprehensive. Some of the topics covered generally include abstinence, contraception, STI/HIV prevention, consent, healthy relationships, body image, and communication.
Unfortunately, due to the controversial nature of discussing sexual subjects, sex education is still a highly politicized issue. With the growing necessity of comprehensive sex education programs, parents, administrators, and teachers are being asked to make a decision about the curriculum appropriate for their community. In the United States, there are two main approaches to sex education: abstinence only education and “comprehensive sex education.”
Abstinence-only education focuses solely on the promotion of waiting to have sex until marriage, with the belief that refraining from sexual acts is the only way to avoid health risks, as well as pregnancy. Abstinence-only essentially leaves out any information about the importance of using contraception as a form of contraception, or the reality of how people live their lives. This has been largely criticized in the field of sex education, as research has found that abstinence-only programs fail to equip our youth with the tools they need to make decisions that are best for their moral and health needs.
On the other hand, “comprehensive sex education” is a holistic approach to sex education that seeks to promote education about sexual and reproductive health, as well as provide information about healthy relationships, sexual responsibility, and the importance of consent. This program generally provides information about contraception, condoms, healthier communication, and more, while also acknowledging sexual diversity and the reality of how people live their lives.
Comprehensive sex education often serves as a more effective model for education, as this approach seeks to empower our youth to make their own decisions, while also promoting an environment of understanding, acceptance, and safety. It is important that we remember youth should have a right to make their own decisions, and that they have the support, resources, and knowledge to make decisions that are best for them.
By equipping our youth with comprehensive sex education, we are affording them the opportunity to make safer, healthier, and better-informed decisions about their health and relationships. This is especially important for those in marginalized groups, as conversations about race, gender, and sexual orientation can help further the goal of encouraging inclusivity, and provide education about diversity and acceptance. Comprehensive Sex Education strives to create an environment where our youth can talk openly about sexual topics, without fear of judgment and criticism.
In conclusion, sex education is an important part of preparing our youth for adulthood, and it is necessary that we provide comprehensive, non judgemental sex education that is appropriate for the particular age of the students. By equipping our youth with the right tools, we are helping ensure that they are making safe, healthy, and informed decisions about their relationships, and their personal health and safety. Through the adoption of comprehensive sex education systems, we will be able to see long-term improvements in overall health and wellness.