Many years ago the public school system was tasked with teaching the nation’s youth how to address their developing bodies and desires, and abstinence only education programs were born. Though decades have passed and times have changed, the way the United State’s chooses to approach the sexual education of young people has not. Authority figures have been shouting, “Abstain! Abstain! Abstain! ” at teenagers to no avail for far to long. The time for change is now. Abstinence only education programs do more harm than good for the nation’s youth.
These sex (or lack there of) education programs aim to teach adolescents to avoid unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (Studs) by simply abstaining from all sexual interactions with a firm “Just say no! ” attitude. People in favor of this approach argue that if teens are taught not to have sex then there is no reason to teach them how to have safe sexual encounters. It is believed by some that the act of teaching teens about sex would destroy their innocence and give the green light for some sort of teenage orgy.
In other words, teaching teens about sex will lead to teens having sex. Although abstinence only education programs are well intended, they are based on the unrealistic, idealized notion that it is possible to keep the majority of teenagers from having sex by any means other than chastity belts. A more realistic approach to reducing unplanned pregnancies and Studs in the teenage population would be to teach them safe sexual practices, and that abstinence is in fact a choice and not a requirement.
Teaching teens about safe sex would give them the inference they need to make good decisions regarding their sex lives. A confident teen will have less trouble standing up for him/her self and saying “No. I am not okay with that. ” Where as an uneducated teen will be more likely to bend to his/her partner’s desires, even if it is something he/she is not comfortable doing. This can lead the teen to rationalize things they would otherwise not be okay with, with the misguided thought that his/her partner must know what he/she is doing. After all, someone has to.
Right? In truth, all that abstinence only education programs are accomplishing is shaming adolescents for what they are biologically hard wired to do. Telling teens that sex is wrong is like telling a bird that to fly is a sin. It is known that often times when shame is fused with sex in the mind of an individual there can be unhealthy consequences, such as depression and harmful fetishes. Teens should be taught how to understand their feelings rather than reject them. They need to know that what they are going through is a natural life process.
Being a teenager is hard enough with all the acne and recently established body odor; thus, they should not be forced to wage a mental war between their natural desires and what they have been taught. Horticulture, teens are exposed to sex ally on television, on ten Internet, In magazines, on billboards, and through music. No one can deny that America today flaunts sexuality. The idea that youths can be kept ignorant of this is preposterous. If respectable adults do not teach teens about sex, adolescents will have no trouble filling the gaps in their knowledge by other means.
The Internet is a writhing hot bed of pornography, often depicting women as euthanized sex objects. How are young men and women supposed to make informed decisions about their sex lives if the only information they have on the subject has been pieced together from scenes of their favorite porno? In conclusion, abstinence only education has been the default sexual education tool for the past fifty years. So far, little has been accomplished in the way of protecting the health of the youths. A new approach to this issue is long over due.