Today we are experiencing increasing cases of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among adolescents due to a lack of sexual knowledge. Surprisingly, a fair portion of teenagers is sexually active by the age of twelve while a bigger portion engages in sexual activities by the age of eighteen (Daschel 1). The alarming statistics indicate the dire need for sexual education intervention in schools. Young people deserve to lead healthy lives and it is their right to access knowledge and information that would help them to make healthy and responsible sexual choices. Therefore, effective sex education programs in middle and high school are significant in controlling the rise of teenage pregnancy and the prevalence of STDs among young people.
Before looking at the reasons why sex education should be taught in middle and high school, let us first define sex education. Sex education, according to AVERT, is the “process of acquiring information and forming attitudes and beliefs about sex, sexual identity, relationships, and intimacy” (DeWitt). It focuses on developing young people’s skills to help them make informed sexual choices. These education programs empower students with knowledge of attitudes and beliefs about sex, sexual identity, and intimate relationships (Daschel 8). The programs further inform young people about positive decisions concerning safe sex and the outcomes that can impact their emotional and physical wellbeing. Due to the increasing cases of teenage pregnancies and the prevalence of STDs among the young generation, there is a need for extensive sex education in middle and high school.
Adolescents are most likely to engage in unhealthy sexual behaviors because of various physiological factors including hormonal influence, brain physiology, and associated factors like delinquency, alcohol use, and school problems (Pringle et al.). Male adolescents experience higher levels of salivary testosterone, which induces sexual urges. Female adolescents are also motivated to engage in sexual activity due to increasing sex hormones, estrogen, and testosterone. Substance use inhibits an individual’s cognitive control capacities, which may lead them into unhealthy sexual practices (Pringle et al.). Additionally, peer pressure plays an important role in shaping young people’s sexual behaviors. At an adolescent stage, they are more likely to be influenced by peers and imitate each others’ ways of life. The combination of these factors puts teenagers at a higher risk of engaging in dangerous sexual behaviors, therefore, raising the need for effective sex education in middle and high school.
Students have the right to sex education because it protects them from future problems and challenges like emotional labor from STD stigmatization or struggles with unplanned parenthood. According to advocates of sex education, the program is significant as teaching math, reading, and writing (Daschel 8). Since the youth are enrolled in school many years before sexual initiation, schools have a unique ability to discourage young people’s sexual risk-taking behavior. Brown cites a study that demonstrated the relationship between school involvement and adolescent sexual risk-taking (13). The findings revealed that individuals who were involved in school were less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors compared to those who were out of school (Brown 13). Another 2014 study by Poynter reported a decline in teen births among the population that received sex education. These findings reveal the importance of teaching sex education in middle and high school.
To conclude, extensive sex education in middle and high school would be effective in controlling adolescents’ engagement in risky sexual behaviors. Various physiological factors and peer pressure put young people at risk of engaging in dangerous sexual behavior. Sex education, as shown by research, reduces an individual’s probability of making poor sexual decisions. It is, therefore, important to include such programs in middle and high school.
Brown, Dominique. “A Comparison of the Effectiveness of School-Based Sex Education Programs: A Meta-Analysis”. MPH, Concordia University, p. 1-13. 2014. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f3b8/a0617362548709283f914e65d4321c323c56.pdf. 13 April 2019.
Daschel, Rabecca, L. “The Effectiveness of Sex Education Programs in the Schools”. University of Wisconsin-Stout, Graduate School. 2012. http://www2.uwstout.edu/content/lib/thesis/2012/2012daschelr.pdf. 13 April 2019.
DeWitt, Peter. “Should Sex Education be Taught in Schools?”. Education Week. 2015. https://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/2015/06/should_sex_education_be_taught_in_schools.html. 13 April 2019.
Poynter, Holly. “The Effectiveness of Sexual Education Programs on Teen Births among Females with and without a Family History of Teen Births”. UKnowledge. 2014. https://uknowledge.uky.edu/cph_etds/11/. 13 April 2019.
Pringle, Jan, Mills, Kathryn, L., McAteer, John, Jepson, Ruth, Hogg, Emma, Anand, Neil, and Blakemore, Sarah-Jayne. “The Physiology of Adolescent Sexual Behavior: A Systematic Review”. Cogent Social Sciences, vol. 3, no. 1. Jan 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5692360/. 13 April 2019.