Should Sex Education Be an Integral Part of School Curriculum or a College Syllabus?

While sex-education is more accepted now than ever; there will always be some controversy surrounding its presence in our educational system. One fact cannot be disputed; children have more access and exposure to sexually oriented materials than at any other point in history. One only needs to watch television or access the Internet to confirm this fact. Are these sources accurate? Are these sources providing health-conscious information?

Make no mistake; children are getting sexually oriented information, much of it from the Internet, other media sources, and other children. Consider the confusion and misinformation that could occur. They deserve to be given the proper information; information that will enable them to make responsible and healthy decisions. Some argue that parents should provide this information. Perhaps, if it were possible to ensure that all parents had the proper knowledge and were also willing to share it. Many children do not have the advantage of such parents.

The advantages of sex-education:

Physical Health: Health issues are always a major consideration when making sexual decisions. Some health complications resulting from sexual activity can be managed successfully with medical intervention; however, some issues cannot. Any person's health is potentially in jeopardy when the decision to be sexually active is made. HIV, hepatitis, gonorrhea, and syphilis, are but a few potential hazards faced by everyone.

Mental Health: There can be tremendous pressure among adolescents to engage in sexual activity. Sex-education can provide tools to successfully deal with these pressures and abstain from sexual activity. The adolescent years are frequently tumultuous under the best of circumstances. Sexual issues can create further anxiety and stress.

Education: Unplanned pregnancy and other health related issues frequently have a negative effect on a child's ability to successfully complete his/her education. Having the proper information to avoid pregnancy and stay healthy can be the difference between a child graduating and a child dropping out of school. Unplanned pregnancies are difficult on all involved; it is difficult on your child; it is difficult on you; it is difficult on the new baby.

The future: There are many orphaned children in the world due to AIDS. What is the future of those children? Many of those children are born ill; what resources are needed to care for them? The goal of everyone having proper sex-education ultimately benefits all of mankind. Knowledge is power to direct the future. Even in the United States, unplanned pregnancies can have a significant economic impact. If the new parents fail to complete school, how well will they be able to support themselves? How well will they be able to support a baby? The situation has potential economic implications for everyone.

There are additional, specific advantages to sex-education in the school system:

Reliability of information: Those providing the information are trained educators using approved materials and curricula. The information is accurate and timely. While certain aspects of sexual education are consistent over time, other aspects can be very dynamic. Potential health risks can change with time, for example.

Thoroughness of information: While some parents are indeed willing to have "the talk", is that really enough in most cases? Sex-education is a broad topic with many issues to discuss. It cannot be adequately covered in a single conversation. School-based sex-education provides a thorough stream of information than most children are not able to receive at home. Additionally, children are frequently too embarrassed to discuss a sexual issue with a parent.

While there may be some disagreement about what specifically should be taught in sex-education, few would disagree that it should be taught. The benefits are numerous to both the children and to society as a whole. Children have a greater opportunity to stay healthy, happy, complete their education, avoid unwanted pregnancy, live to their potential, and positively impact the future. Many parents are unable or unwilling to provide all the necessary information needed for a child to develop to his/her full potential.