Sex Education in Public Schools
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All over the world, sex and sexuality have essential meaning since they can be regarded as the main proponents of the sustainability of a normal life. In fact, sex and sexuality are the basics of human instincts that affect an individual’s whole life and these cannot be ignored to have a good and healthy life. Therefore, it is a universal topic taking the interest of the whole humanity.
Although sex and sexuality are general and important issues that every person should be knowledgeable about and become more conscious in order to keep a balanced and well-informed community, it is obvious that most of the people including uneducated students in the world either do not know anything about sex and sexuality or have learnt completely wrong things about them. In that sense, if every individual cares about these things and gives effort to meet the ignorance of sex and sexuality, people can get a better life situation and live in a physically, psychologically morally healthy community.
Therefore, there are many studies about sex education to the students in public schools. As to the definition of “sex education”, there is not a specific definition of it yet as this issue and the requirements can be too controversial because of the variability of sex education programs. However, perhaps it can be summarized as following: “Education which increases the knowledge of the functional, structural, and behavioral aspects of human reproduction. ” (Medical Webends, n. d. ).
Definition shows that, sex education aims at making young individuals more aware and careful about sex and sexuality. However, there are some objections to sex education in public schools that is the main interest of this essay. As for the history of sex education, this was not a common concept that shapes the curriculum in 1960s; however, towards the end of the decade there was an increasing number in sexual activity among young people and unplanned pregnancies in Canada because the young people were not given enough information about sex an sexuality in order not to cause any temptation.
After that bad case, “health professionals, educators, social workers and parents cooperated to develop sex education programs” (Marsman & Herold, 1986, p. 357). Today, the case of ‘sex education in public schools’ has become a very controversial issue because sex education has its own costs and benefits. Whereas some parents support this type of education in public schools, other more conservative parents are against it in public schools. Moreover, there is a disagreement between the educators.
That is why this essay will concentrate on sex education in public schools and attempt to answer the following research question: What are the disadvantages and advantages of sex education in public schools? “Sex education in public schools” controversy is not an old issue. However, immediately after the emergence of this concept, many studies have been done whether sex education is a positive guidance for teenagers or not and what the advantages and disadvantages of sex education in public schools are.
Actually, all these studies have been applied for the benefit of teenagers and their healthy features. Naturally, there is a big disagreement between the supporters of sex education and the opponents of sex education in public schools. Their studies focus on the advantages and disadvantages mainly, and most of the studies indicating the good sides of sex education in public schools can be regarded as negatives sides of it by other studies. Firstly, the studies about the advantages of sex education in public schools can be categorized. The first is physical effects other is psychological effects.
The studies related to decreasing undesirable pregnancies, preventing of sexually transmitted diseases in terms of physical effects. The studies related to the psychological advantages can be classified as self-control mechanism and self-confidence for the ones having heavy sexual feelings. To begin with the topic ‘decreasing undesirable pregnancies’ of physical advantages, Marsman and Harold (1986) cited in their study that Zelnik and Kim(1982) found in their research that people having sex education are different from those having no sex education in terms of ntercourse before marriage.
The ones having sex education are less possibly to get pregnant thanks to their awareness of sex education (p. 358). Rosoff(1989) mentioned in her article that sex education prevents sexually transmitted diseases. In the article, she focuses on the application of sex education in public schools, and criticizes a little the current situation of sex education in public schools. She claims that the focusing is mostly on AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases rather than pregnancy prevention.
She also mentions about teenager’s sexual knowledge. According to her, teenagers can protect themselves from AIDS and other sexual diseases if they have sex education. Furthermore, these studies refer to the parents’ fear about sex education program. The parents think that sex education can direct their children to the sexual activity, but these fears are irrelevant to the nature of sex education policy (p. 52-64). According to the Kirby et. al. 1994), among the sexually active people, teenagers have high ratio in terms of sexually transmitted diseases, and many adolescences have been infected by HIV till they are 21(p. 340).
This is just an example in the study and they suggest sex education programs to prevent this ignorance and to save the teenagers throughout the study. Strachan(2005) shows that groups involved in the sex education programs ‘had an increase in knowledge of safe sexual behavior and prevention of sexually transmitted infections. The group not involved in the sex education program had no progress in sexual behavior (p. iii). As for the psychological advantages of sex education, Edson (1935) focuses on the individual difference which is related to the sexual impulses. While one has a strong sexual feeling or impulses which are hard to satisfy, other has a more moderate sexual feeling that is easy to control. People who have heavily sexual impulses can be controlled in terms of benefits of comity. One of the most vital tasks of sex education is to give detailed information and sexual ethics.
By the help of sex education, these people can develop a better self-control mechanism and self-confidence (p. 362-363). Another psychological advantage of sex education is about parents’ feeling. Marsman and Herold(1986) cited the study applied by Alexander (1984), according to this study, some parents were shy or embarrassed about talking about sexual issues to their children; therefore, they supported sex education in public schools so that the parent felt more comfortable and sure about their children’s sexual knowledge (p. 58. ). Moreover, Constantine et. al. (2007) show in their study that the parents living in California have supported the comprehensive sex education program. The conclusion of the study claims that the support should be generalized throughout the country (p. 174). Other advantage of sex education is related to monogamy.
According to the study of Wagoner (2008), the researches which is about sex education showed that ‘13 programs showed reductions in the number of sex partners and/or increased monogamy among program participants. (p. vi). In other words, sex education programs are successful at increasing monogamy, and so the community appreciate this outcome and support sex education in public schools. Moreover, According to Sonenstein (1997), the participants who are ninth and seventh grade of abstinence-only sex education program have changed their attitudes, and beliefs, and their knowledge about sex has increased. ( as cited in Trent, 2000, p. 85).
As for the studies related to the disadvantages of sex education, it can be categorized by the difference between those having sex education and those having no sex education, the seductive effect of sex education, and contradiction to the religious views. To start, Henderson et. al. (2007) claim that there is not an important difference between those having sex education and those not having any sex education public schools.
According to the results and conclusion, the specially designed sex education program did not decrease conceptions and terminations in eastern Scotland (p. 49). According to those against sex education, it seduces the students and promotes them promiscuity. As cited in Marsman and Herold (1986), in Roberts, Kline and Gagnon’s study (1978), traditions are very important for some people and they are adhering to traditional premarital sexual norm and those people are against to sex education in public schools, because they believe that this kind of program triggers the teenagers’ sexual instincts.
The point is about the conservational values imposed by the conservative parents and church attendance (p. 358). Another possible negative side of sex education in public school is that it contradicts to the religious view as cited in Marsman and Herald’s study. This pressure is coming from church attendance to the education. In the study, it was found that church attenders were not more or less possibly to approve of sex education; however, they were ‘more likely to favor conservative values being taught’ (p. 60).
In the light of all the above mentioned studies, it could be concluded that sex education in public schools has many advantages such as decreasing unwanted pregnancies, preventing sexually transmitted diseases, self-control mechanism and self-confidence for sexual feelings, lessening the burden for the parents, developing public moral attitudes, which strengthen the idea of implementing sex education in public schools.
On the other hand, of course, there are opponents to this notion because they believe that sex education public schools for such young students might provoke the promiscuity, and contradict with the religious views, and even they claim that there is no difference between those taking sex education and the others not taking sex education. However, their excuses for preventing sex education in public schools are such weak suggestions that in fact they do not believe in themselves. Therefore, sex education in public schools should be supported and implemented all over the world because of many advantages mentioned above.
Those who are against sex education in public schools have a claim that there is not an important difference between those having sex education and those not having any sex education public schools, and there is no increase in contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV or AIDS. Sex education programs which are designed specially are not effective to reduce conceptions and terminations teenagers; therefore, there is no need to implement sex education in public schools.
However, this is very limited and exceptional conclusions. Of course, there is effect of sex education programs on teenagers. According to Marsiglio and Mott (1986), too many teenagers begin to sexual intercourse but using more contraceptives to stop unwanted pregnancies then those who have not (p. 151). In terms of contraception, this result shows that sex education in public schools affects teenagers, especially girls, in positive way. That is, those who have taken sex education course will use contraceptives so that there are not unwanted pregnancies.
Moreover, in the study of Ku, Sonenstein, and Pleck (1992), they have a positive finding about the decreasing effect on sexually transmitted diseases of sex education program. To them, the instruction on birth control, AIDS and resisting sexual activity was successful at decreasing in the number of partners and the frequency of intercourse provide knowledge and attitudes on AIDS (p. 100). Those who do not support sex education in terms of unsuitability of sex education programs in public school claim that this kind of education and instruction programs promotes teenagers to promiscuity.
Sex education triggers sexual desires for teenagers and this sort of program can deviate from its aim. And also it cause much trouble in a way of the attractiveness of sexual intercourse, but conservative parents and church attendants adhering to traditional premarital sexual norm believe in this conclusion of sex education programs. If sex education causes applied carefully, sex education courses in public schools do not have any impact.
On the contrary, these courses help the young adolescents in order to reduce of sexual guilt, inhibitions, and the double standard, maintain the traditional values of love and fidelity, and have a healthier, more comfortable and responsible attitude toward sex ( Gunderson & Mccary, 1980, p. 375). Sex education helps the students to be more comfortable with, and open-minded towards sexual practices (p. 379). In other words, there is no feature in related to promoting promiscuity of sex education in public schools.
One last claim that is related to religious approach to sex education in public schools is that these education and instruction in public schools contradicts with religious views. This approach comes from mostly church and other religious organizations. Those are in favor of conservative values and ethics. To them, the young adolescences are motivated by sex education program to commit sin. But, they do not understand that one of the purposes of sex education is to keep the welfare of community and the morality of the society by discouraging the unhealthy sexual behaviors.
Those religious opponents of sex education in public school are bigoted or close-minded elements of the society. They suppose that everything related to sex contains sin, bad habits, and evil ritual. According to the study of Halstead (1997), he suggests some consensus for Muslims about sex education. These programs can be applied for boys and girls separately. Sex education approach can encourage the student to explore and develop their own feelings. Moreover, Islam argue that everybody should search and find a piece of science wherever it is.
Therefore, because sex education is related to biology being a sub-branch of science to great extent, people should take sex education courses under the title of science (p. 327). In other words, sex education programs can be included in curriculum by being adapted to religious factor, too. In conclusion, the proponents of sex education in public schools should rethink their points and claims in a scientific and logical way without any biased and subjective thoughts. In the end, they will realize that they are wrong and will understand how unfair they are to their own children.
In fact, they are aware of the necessity of sex education in public schools, but in any way they try to play the tough by standing by their word. However, they cannot deny that sex education in public schools will decrease the unwanted pregnancies, the ratio of sexually transmitted diseases, and increase contraception, help the students to be more comfortable with, and open-minded towards sexual practices, and keep the welfare of community and the morality of the society by discouraging the unhealthy sexual behaviors. Therefore, sex education programs should be included in the curriculum of public schools and should be supported.