Mandatory Sex Ed


The New York City department of Education just announced that as of next year, Sex Education will be a mandatory part of curriculum for new york middle and high schools. This education will include information about what sexual behaviors carry the most risk, education about condoms and other contraception, and information about STD testing. (there is an opt out option in which only information about contraception is provided). This new policy was put in place by the Bloomberg administration in order to combat rates of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases in New York City.

This announcement was followed by a great deal of backlash by some parent groups. While some groups are protesting the content of the new curriculum, others believe that sex education should not be required at all. One particular group that is voicing their dissent is the NYC parent’s choice coalition, who believes that sex education should not be mandated. These parents believe sex education will undermine what parents choose not tell their children about sex, and will give students too much information about sex.  Most of the opinion against this new model comes from parents who support an abstinence only approach to sex education.

While some people are criticizing this action, it seems that in other countries, this kind of education has positive results. For example, the Netherlands has one of the lowest rates of teenage pregnancies, in addition to one of the lowest rates of teenage abortions (the United States has the highest of both). This statistic is linked directly to the comprehensive sex education that is mandated in Holland. The Dutch model of sex education is basically full disclosure. Students are encouraged to ask questions and be open to the idea of talking about sex. This open attitude eliminates the taboo from sexual discussion, and allows children to learn information formally without resorting to rumors and gossip about its consequences. This is just one example of how comprehensive sex education can directly affect the way students think about and choose to engage in sex. It seems that overall, higher education leads to better choices and reduced negative consequences when it comes to sex.

I think this issue ties into our class discussion about The Self, Roles, and Society. It confronts the issue of how far we are willing to allow the government to be involved in our personal lives. Where do we draw the line between public and private? In our society, education is at least somewhat controlled by the government, should the government supervise sexual education as well? Personally, I think that sex education is important, and should be mandatory in schools. I believe it is irresponsible to assume that young adults will learn about safe sex on their own, and enforcing abstinence only education does not mean that all teenagers will be abstinent, it just means that those who aren’t abstinent will not be educated on the risks and consequences of unsafe sex. What do you think? Is mandatory sex education an example of the government getting too involved in the private sphere?

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28 Comments on “Mandatory Sex Ed”

    • Michael Wagner Says:

      Mandatory sex education is perfect example of government involvement in the lives of citizens. However, I do believe it is an invasion of the private sphere.

      In order to properly answer the question of, “Is this an invasion of the private sphere?” it will be necessary to eliminate controversial topics such as abortion, pre-marital sex, and parenting. To address each of these topics and the abundance of differing views pertaining to each would involve a very in depth analysis, and ultimately would distract from the question at hand.

      And important topic to consider however is public education. The public schools are part of a system initiated and supported by the government, and therefore members of the surrounding society (taxpayers). For this reason, the curriculum should be dictated by those that run it. Im suggesting that in a public school setting, families and parents, and to some degree students, should be able to decide the curriculum that is being presented to children. They are the taxpayers, their money goes to supporting that school and if their children are enrolled, they should have a say in what is being taught. The PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and other organizations are sit up to establish this connection. Pertaining to more sensitive subjects like sex ed. etc. the parents should be allowed to say if they want their kid to be subject to the information.

      Now here comes my personal belief. Mandatory sex ed is NOT an invasion of the private sphere. In response to these parents I would say, why would sex education be hidden and censored while television, movies, pop culture magazines, celebrities, and all other media influences that children are subjected to are not. My personal opinion is, having your child withdrawn from the sex education classes is essentially saying you’d rather have Ke$ha, Katy Perry, Quentin Tarintino, or Rhianna teach your kid about sex rather then their 7th grade teacher. Yes, from reading above, it seems that most of the people challenging the new policy regarding mandatory sex education, are the parents that want to expose their children to sex in a very specific way. These are the parents that want to have the most control over how their children will perceive sex, and ultimately will do whatever they can to have the most control over how their child will act in the future. But what happens when their kid is exposed to the media (because they will be!) and comes across eveything they didnt want to cover? Let’s be honest, if you want to hide your child from the corruption that is sex glorification in the media you better get a shovel, dig a hole and don’t let your kid leave for the rest of their life. Its out there and virtually impossible to keep it away.

      Bottom line for me is this; sex is no longer a private matter. Modern day society glorifies it and for that reason its everywhere. Education should not be made private either. The statistic above, “the Netherlands has one of the lowest rates of teenage pregnancies, in addition to one of the lowest rates of teenage abortions (the United States has the highest of both)” goes a long way to reflect the condition of the United States social standards and a large supporting statistic for the arguments above.

  1. carweiss Says:

    I completely agree that sex education should be mandatory in all schools. While some parents may argue and think that they should be the only ones who educate their children, who is to say that the parents are fully educated? And what about the kid whose parents could care less? Both situations lead to an uneducated child that is bound to experiment someday without the proper knowledge.
    Even if the schools just gives a basic course that explains the dangers of sexual activity and how they can prevented, I think rates of teen pregnancies would drastically decrease. Many children (with the right education) would take the proper precautions to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
    Moreover, I think having sex education in schools allows children to ask questions and discuss certain topics that they maybe wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to their parents about. When parents put too much restriction on their children, they are bound to rebel and could end up in terrible and unwanted situations.
    While many would say that enforcing these classes into schools would be too much intervention by the government, I think the majority would quit complaining when results (lower rates in teen pregnancies) would be produced.

  2. goldman13 Says:

    As a product of the New York City public school system, i can understand and relate to both sides of this argument; i know of parents who were anti-sex education from the start, and i know parents (mine) who didn’t see a problem with it (probably because I’m the middle child, but thats besides the point – http://middlechildpersonality.com/middle-child-syndrome/). I agree with you in that making sex education mandatory in public schools would benefit society, but that’s not that question at hand.

    The government is not only society’s law enforcement agency. Rather, it has a responsibility to protect its civilians, acting in their best interest no matter what the case may be. Administrators and legislatures believe that by enforcing sex education, they would be helping society – holistically, i agree. However, they seem to be overlooking a major factor that needs to be considered in this controversy. New York City is one of – if not the most – diverse places on the planet. And, as i have learned during my 18 years living there, many different religions, ethnicities, and cultures are greatly opposed to sex. Educating children and teenagers of these backgrounds therefore not only creates a societal impediment, but it also drastically opposes the ideals that our nation was founded on. But, I think Rousseau hit the nail on its head by saying that as society becomes more advanced, more individual liberties are crushed. Following this ideal, I guess we should just lay low and let the government do its thing, right? Who knows.

    There will always be people who disagree with new laws, especially when it comes to public education. So i guess, for now, the only questions that remain are “how will the classes be designed?” and “how effective will they be?” Personally, I’m excited to see how it all plays out.

  3. parijog Says:

    I do not believe that mandating sex education for Middle and High Schools students is an intrusion upon the personal liberties of the students. These students entered into a contract with the public education system that requires their full cooperation with the curriculum laid out by the school administrators. In return for the full cooperation of the students, the school provides and education in return. If sex education is a part of that curriculum, then the students and their parents must trust and adhere to it. Policy makers institute regulations such as this to ensure the betterment of society as a whole. Some children may receive adequate schooling in sex education from family, but for those who do not, the sex education provided in public schools may very well save them from an unplanned teen pregnancy that they would otherwise be ill-equipped to prevent. There is no student who cannot learn something from a course in sexual education, and for parents who believe otherwise, or who believe that sexual education will be harmful to their child, it is time to trust the professional educators who job it is to hold the children’s best interest at heart.

    From the data shown in the graph above, it is difficult to refute the effectiveness of mandated sexual education. I believe that if schools in the United States took sexual education more seriously, and parents were more open and supportive to this idea, teens in America would have a much better understanding of the risks and seriousness of having sex at their age. Additionally, I believe that the students will realize that sex is not some “forbidden fruit” of which they know nothing of. Without so much curiosity, I am hopeful that many teen’s will be less interested in pursuing sex.

  4. emmaschneider11 Says:

    I personally feel that sex education is schools benefits students, and that education is really the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and diseases. However, I don’t feel that it is within the schools rights to make sex ed mandatory.

    I understand that the New York City Department of Education is only trying to help and do what they think is best for students. I agree that providing students with information about sexual health that is comprehensive and not solely focused on abstinence is the best thing for the students. Teenage pregnancy is so prevalent and this is in some ways due to a lack of information, and I think all students should be exposed to knowledge and have the chance to learn what they want to know.

    However, a person’s sexual experiences are a private matter, and a family may feel very strongly that they do not want their children exposed to the sexual education that is offered in schools. These parents may want to educate their children differently in a way that conforms to personal, religious or moral expectations they have. Whether this is what is best for the child depends on who you ask. While the New York Department of education or you and I may not think this is in the child’s best interest the parent certainly do, and I don’t see how anyone has the right to tell them they are wrong.

    I feel that the Department of Education should implement the new programs of sexual education that are informative and comprehensive, but that they should not be mandatory. The program can be strongly recommended, and automatically provided unless specifically requested by the parents not to be. While it is the case that the schools are a community that is only trying to do what is best for their students, I think it is outside of their rights to mandate something that resides in the personal sphere.

  5. jeanchaw Says:

    I believe that schools need to educate kids on everything about sexual education. With the rising percentage of teenage pregnancy and teens with STDs the United States needs a way to combat these problems. Educating kids about sex can only help because sooner or later they are going to discover sex on their own. How educated they are could be the determining factor in whether they get pregnant or contract syphilis.

    Parents who are against this and want to keep their kids in the dark about sex can do so but there are consequences. Withholding things from children only increases the inevitability that they will one day find out. When parents leave the christmas presents under the tree they usually just sit there untouched. When parents hide the christmas presents thats when the kids get restless and start to scavenge trying to find all the presents. As a parent would you rather keep sex out in the open or let your kids run around trying to find it?

    • Steve Dougherty Says:

      Agreed – it makes sense to me that things of this nature affect not just the people directly involved, but (directly?) impact society as a whole. I can think of many such things that government is involved in: diet, lawn care, trash management, firearms. This is a more eclectic list than I’d like… I find it interesting to note that even though religion impacts society significantly it is absent from this list.

      > When parents hide the christmas presents thats when the kids get restless and start to scavenge trying to find all the presents. As a parent would you rather keep sex out in the open or let your kids run around trying to find it?

      Excellently put – an apt comparison. It is true that forbidden things can have a thrill and mystery to them – I’d argue that willfully hiding information impacts maturity and well-being. Things about reproductive health are known – why keep them secret and prevent people from benefiting from the knowledge?

  6. godzillagti Says:

    Sex education should definitely be mandatory in schools. Being equipped with knowledge about sex does not mean that students are going to become more sexually active, it just means that if they choose to be sexually active they know the risks and how to be safer. I personally have taken sex education in both 8th grade and in 9th grade. After taking the courses I was very knowledgeable about the subject, but it didn’t make me sexually active. I have not had sex and I still choose to be abstinent even after taking the course, but I know that when the time does come, I will know what to do. If students are not aware of the risks involved with sexual activities then they are more likely to suffer from those risks than someone who has taken the class. As far as the parents go, they can’t protect their children from sex for very long. American society is filled with sex. Sex is on television, the internet, billboards, and is even a common topic to be talked about among friends. Parents can’t shelter their child for so long and if they try to it can lead the child to learn about sex on their own which can be very dangerous. Overall, I highly recommend sexual education in schools to help lower teen pregnancies and STDs.

  7. clawren Says:

    I think that sex education should be mandatory in schools. Whether a certain religion or culture is against it or not, sex is something that occurs very often in today’s society and kids should know the facts. Just because kids are made aware of it doesn’t mean they are going to engage in it. It actually might make them less likely to have sex if they are informed of the risks that come along with it. Also it is almost impossible for parents to keep their children in the dark about sex when it has become such a large part of all types of media. Therefore if parents are uncomfortable confronting the situation, the school can do it for them. It is something people continuously try to avoid, but the reality is that in today’s society it is almost unavoidable. As sex is becoming less of a private thing and more openly talked about, it can’t be said that the government is imposing in the private sphere.

  8. dkap7 Says:

    I am in favor of mandating a sex education program not only in New York City, but across the country. America has the highest rate of unplanned teen pregnancies and teen abortions, and statistics show that America has only gotten worse over the past several decades. This is a problem that needs to be dealt with. Sex education can be used in a number of ways to limit the percent of American teens that become pregnant. For one, sex education can be used to scare teens from having unprotected and unsafe sex. Another positive aspect of sexual education is that it enhances kids knowledge about the dangers of unprotected sex. These two factors will not fully wipe out teen pregnancies, but will help to reduce the high percentage that American’s teens currently are at.

    I took sexual education twice during my childhood and adolescence. Once in 8th grade and once sophomore year of High School. I found both classes very beneficial to my understanding of all aspects of sex. The class had a very comfortable setting, in spite of an uncomfortable topic. The percentage of unplanned pregnancies in my town remains very low, and these two mandatory sex education classes have a great deal to do with this success.

    However, most kids are rebellious to what they are told by senior peers, for instance teachers. By having sex education mandatory, there are a lot of kids who will intentionally go against this class because it is in their nature to rebel against the norms of society. History has shown that a portion of America’s youth has always rebelled the opinions of society. However, if this is only the minority of the youth, it is in the benefit of this country to instill a mandatory sex education class for all students. For a lot of students it will change their mind on sex, and for the remainder, it will at least get them thinking about what decisions they actually are willing to make. All in all, it brings the publics attention to an issue that has plagued the US for sometime.

  9. ngamin1614 Says:

    Yeah, it would probably be a good thing to have mandatory sex education. The stats that you showed in the graph don’t lie, countries with mandatory sex ed tend to have fewer teen pregnancies. Unfortunately, we seem to have the most teen pregnancies of any country on that list, which is a problem. Teen pregnancies can ruin a teenager’s life. That teenage girl who had a kid probably had a few dreams of her own, but now she has to take care of her baby and is unable to pursue her dreams. It’s quite sad really. The baby who is born also probably isn’t going to be raised in the right environment unless the teenage parents get some serious help. Teenagers simply are not meant to be parents, so we should strive to lower the teenage pregnancy rate here in America because it would improve general welfare.

    Yes, there will be some parents who will be angry over mandatory sex ed. Those parents are probably the type of parents who will eventually tell their own children about the birds and the bees. However, there are some parents who simply do not give a crap. It is the children of these parents who would be in the most trouble here. They would remain uneducated about sex, and would be more likely to have a teenage pregnancy. In India and Africa the birth rate is sky high because people remain uneducated about sex. When some people in these countries received appropriate sexual education, these people tended to make better decisions for themselves.

    So yes, I think sexual education should be mandatory. Again, some people will be angry, but making sex ed mandatory has way more benefits than costs. Therefore, I think it would be for the best if this fell under the public sector. If the government does not get involved in this private sphere, we’re going to continue to have a lot of teenage pregnancies

  10. briank726 Says:

    I think sex education should be available but not mandatory for middle and high schools in the U.S. It was mandatory for my high school and while I found it educating and beneficial for the most part, it had some adverse effects on some of my classmates. The class covered topics that many people were sensitive to and bothered by. For example, the teacher tried to very heavily persuade us to be abstinent by showing us very disturbing pictures of people with STD’s. One student had a seizure from the shock of seeing some of these pictures. Many of us thought the teacher went beyond what was necessary. I don’t think that a sex ed class should try to frighten students to not have sex, but instead take a moderate approach and just allow them to be aware of potential consequences.
    Still, I believe these classes should not be mandatory because it is in a way letting the government overstep its bounds. I think it is similar to teaching religion in schools. There are certain things that are taught and done in their own way in specific homes. Similar to how some teach their kids religion, I think it is predominantly the families’ responsibility to educate kids about sex. The family is responsible for the safety and well-being of their children, so educating them about sex should fit into that category. Even if they have an abstinence only policy, they should at least make their children aware of what is out there. So a sex ed class should not be needed for children to learn about sex in a safe and educating manner. However, sex ed should at least be available at schools for students and parents to decide if they each want to take it.

    • Steve Dougherty Says:

      > I think it is predominantly the families’ responsibility to educate kids about sex.

      What if the families don’t fulfill that responsibility, either by saying nothing or giving no information other than “be abstinent?” Is it the place of government to educate children on something that greatly impacts society if their parents are unable or unwilling to do so? My understanding is that an abstinence-only policy is not at all helpful and does not achieve its goals, whereas more comprehensive sex ed does.

  11. ianbaker2041 Says:

    I completely agree with what you’re saying here. Sex education offers the best way to ensure that everyone understands this stuff and that kids (many of whom are, in my opinion, too young to be considering sex anyways) are aware of the potential consequences.

    I was fortunate to grow up in a household with parents who were open to talking about sex. I had the “sex talk” numerous times with my parents, and it never felt overly awkward. Of course, talking about sex with your parents is bound to be at least a little uncomfortable, but it was tolerable and not just downright awful. Many students, however, don’t have that advantage. One of my friends, for example, comes from a very religious household where premarital sex is treated like a heresy; consequently, he never received the same education at home that I would have received from my parents who were open to talking about it. The role of the public education system as a way to give everyone a certain core of information comes in here.

    The point of school, at least through high school, should be to give everyone an equal chance on a level playing field. While knowing anatomy and STDs doesn’t really help one get a job or a career, it’s important to know just to be a member of society. Since it’s pretty obvious to me that not everyone’s parents discuss sex with their children, sex education in school is the only way to ensure that everyone knows this stuff. Without schools teaching it, I can only conclude that some students would not know some of the most basic facts about sex. If education is designed to give students facts and allow them to develop critical thinking/ reasoning skills so as to make their own decisions, doesn’t it make sense for schools to provide information regarding sex, potential dangers, and protection so that students can make informed decisions? Of course it does!

    You mention that this may be potentially a governmental (public) incursion on a private matter; I can see why you are acknowledging the claim (although I don’t think that you agree with this view). It does seem, however, like sex education should be in schools because sex is, in a way, a public matter. If two people have sex at a young age and end up having a child, who is to care for that baby? The parents can’t afford to do it. What if their parents (the grandparents of the newborn) can’t afford to either? We as taxpayers pick up the tab with the government’s seemingly endless stream of funding to the poor. If taxpayers are, in essence, providing for this child (welfare-a public concept), then it also makes sense that education regarding sex should be done in public schools. The government isn’t overstepping its boundaries by objectively providing students with the information required to make informed decisions because if students make uninformed decisions, the government itself (and more importantly the taxpayers) must then pay for that mistake. Society owes it to itself to try to prevent unplanned pregnancy, especially in young couples that lack the resources to properly care for a child.

    I don’t see this as a matter of giving children too much information; rather, I see it as a way to ensure that everyone has a basic level of understanding about a very important topic. Yes, it’s sensitive in nature, and yes, some parents don’t want their children to know about it, but society as a whole will be much better off if these views are cast aside in favor of sex education. Like so many other posts on this blog, I see the argument as ultimately coming down to the desires of a few vs the good of the majority. I’ll choose the majority pretty much every time.

  12. mjgeis Says:

    By limiting their child’s access to information about sex, parents incur a much higher risk of having their child become involved in a pregnancy. It has never made sense to me why a parent would stop their child from hearing about sex. If a child doesn’t get the right information, they will simply proceed about the activity in a stupid or irresponsible way. And there’s no denying that the child is going to have desires, since those desires are one of the most fundamental human drives in existence. Parents are just shooting themselves in the foot.

    You raised some good questions about the government’s involvement here, but I can’t help but think that the greater enigma lies in the actions of the parents. It would be very interesting to try to break down the motives, goals, and behavior of the parents. This sort of vehement resistance to such a simple government policy alerts to me that there is something very powerful at work here. But what is it? Are parents simply uncomfortable with the advancement of society? Do they just want to keep their children “pure” and “innocent” (I’ve never understood the meaning or the attractive quality of those words; they can be easily replaced by “naive” and “inexperienced”)?

    Somehow, the parents need to divulge the truth about what they want. It doesn’t seem like it is enough to claim that their child’s civil rights/liberties are being infringed upon, because that is really more of a concern to the child himself/herself (especially with middle and high school age kids who have developed greater autonomy).

    One thing I can think of is that the parents have religious objections to the teaching of sex ed. I don’t exactly understand the religious objection to the knowledge of sex (or knowledge of any sort, actually), but this could call the government’s actions into question. The government’s behavior is a good example of separation of church and state, but are they infringing upon the religious freedoms of parents?

    My suggestion: “If you don’t like it, leave it.” As Professor LaVaque-Manty said in lecture the other day, this is not necessarily the fairest decider of “consent”, but there it is. Children have the right to information and knowledge, and for their parents to limit their acquisition of this knowledge is a greater threat to their civil liberty and autonomy than any government-required sex ed course could ever present.

  13. antuck Says:

    Excellent post! Nice use of data and graph too.

    I find myself completely agreeing with you. The pros for mandatory sex education are various and obvious.

    • First, it will probably lead to fewer unwanted/teen pregnancies.
    • Second, it will lead to safer sex practices (lowering the rate of STDs in a country is good for everyone).
    • Third, it gives students an opportunity to ask questions free of taboos, and to hear their classmates ask similar questions. This would be a great relief for many students, I’m sure.
    • Fourth, it educates students who will not receive this information otherwise. Concerned parents argue that sex education belongs in the private sector and should come from parents. But the facts cited in the post show quite clearly that either American parents *aren’t* educating their children about sex, or they are doing a terrible job.

    Concerning the fourth point: I think education is one of the few things the public sector actually does better than the private sector. Public sector education is mandatory, has to be objective, and the educators have to be trained (not that it’s always objective or the educators are always well-trained—only that the private sector will often be worse in both of these areas). Education from mom and dad at home, for example, probably explains why 40% of Americans think humans were created as they are in the last 10,000 years. http://www.gallup.com/poll/145286/Four-Americans-Believe-Strict-Creationism.aspx

    Just as importantly, I just can’t think of any reasons why we *shouldn’t* teach sex education.

    • Teaching children about protected sex is not the same thing as telling children they should be going out and having sex.

    It’s not even implied.

    At all.

    • Parents may complain that the message is being sent that it is okay to have sex outside of marriage. All I have to say to that is, why don’t parents just tell their children that it’s not? If they are such big proponents of education in the home and not school, why don’t they just make it clear to their children that they don’t think it’s okay? It’s as though they have no faith in their ability to educate their children…

    In any case, in the name of objectivity, educators should not either condone or forbid premarital sex. Therefore, they shouldn’t get rid of such an important topic simply because some people think sex outside of marriage is wrong.

    • Lastly, what’s wrong with teaching the facts? Don’t allow any moral claims into the education: teach statistics; teach biology. We do these things anyway. The reproductive system is an important part of biology. A refusal to teach basic biological facts indicates to me that, in many ways, sexuality is still a taboo topic in our culture.

    We should teach about sex the way we teach about the endocrine system or cells.

  14. vfealkoff Says:

    Sex education should be mandatory in schools for the simple reason that teens need to be educated on the topic. Regardless of ones religious or moral opinion on the matter, sex and reproduction are apart of the foundation of our race which is why education is necessary. Understandably some may feel that sex is a private topic and should not be a mandatory class regulated by the government. However, because issues of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases have become so common today it has become the governments problem as well as the individuals. By advocating safe sex and education we are not telling kids to go out and do it, but to be aware that if you choose to engage in sexual activity, there are potential consequences and repercussions. In my opinion, it is the lack of education and awareness among the youth which cause them to turn to other sources such as the media, or friends to get answers. The media is a prime example of advocating sex as something “casual” and fun without disclosing the reality of what sex is. Let’s face it, if music artists talked about how they got a sexually transmitted disease or pregnant from their crazy party nights, no one would like the song. Lastly is the issue of parents not wanting to talk to their children about sex for various reasons such as fear, moral values, or simply because they do not know how to go about the conversation. The Parent-child relationship is important for children especially during their teenage years. If sex education was made mandatory it may open the door for conversation between parents and teens. By creating a comfortable space to talk about sex, parents may become less fearful and more comfortable after realizing that their kids are aware and capable of making good choices. Ultimately teens are going to do what they want, it is up adults to realize that they can either choose to be active members of the situation by doing what they can to educate teens, or choose to pretend it doesn’t exist.

  15. dannilevin9492 Says:

    The knowledge of sexual education should be familiar to each and every person that is living, given they are old enough to understand it. It would be naive for people to say that kids don’t have sex these days. And, while people can’t necessarily stop these kids from having sexual relationships with others, they shouldn’t turn a blind eye to what is happening. When kids are informed of contraceptives and STDs, they have access to information that will help guide them to safer routes than if they were uninformed.

    The question should not be whether mandatory sex ed should be offered in school. The question instead should be WHEN is the most effective time for kids to learn such information. If you ask me, I would say that sex ed should be administered throughout middle school and high school. Specifically, sex ed should be introduced and briefly discussed in heath class during middle school so kids are somewhat informed about the topic. However, I don’t believe kids at age 11-14 have much actual experience with sex so they need not know brutal details. There is no need to take away innocence from kids at a time in their lives when majority are still innocent. But, sex ed should be enforced throughout every year in high school. In high school students are introduced to many “real world” situations such as sex and drugs. Intricate knowledge of such topics has greater potential to help people to make more of the right choices. These proper choices can then correlate with decreased rates of teenage pregnancy and abortion.

    The trouble of mandatory sex ed arises when dealing with private schooling. The government should force public schools to provide sex ed, not only because they have the power to do so, but because it makes for safer decisions. However, the government doesn’t have control over private schools and don’t have power to exercise such judgements. Furthermore, private schools are often fairly religion, and believe that sex ed gives off the wrong impression because it doesn’t simply advocate abstinence. Private schooling has influence over what students learn, however, these students also learn about life outside of the classroom. It is inevitable that these students will hear about and be introduced to the idea of sex, and a knowledgable background of such topic will never hurt them. This takes on an issue of government action in public vs. private situations. I don’t think mandating such education in schools involves the government taking their power too far. Mandating this education in school doesn’t force families to go out of their way to teach their children such information, it just provides a background of knowledge that will simply help the health and safety of children. While I could see such government action as a violation of freedom of religion, for many religions solely believe in abstinence. However, in society today abstinence doesn’t fly. The media and surrounding environment don’t advocate abstinence, and both have such drastic influence on kids today. Safety measures taken in regards to sexual health will only help society as a whole, not hurt them.

  16. namin91 Says:

    I believe that sexual education in schools should be mandatory. I think there is enough evidence that shows that educating children and a full-disclosure way really does lead to a reduction of teenage pregnancies and abortions. Talking about sex is considered to be such a taboo in our society and there are so many social stigmas attached to it. Educating the youth is the only way to stop the stigmas and create an open discourse in which children aren’t ashamed or embarrassed to speak up and ask questions.

    The issues of when to start sexual education and how to administer it our very important topics. I believe that 6th or 7th grade is probably the best time to start teaching kids about sexual education. It should definitely be done before kids enter high school and begin to face even more peer pressure and challenges of fitting in. I think it’s also important to make sure the students are comfortable, so maybe doing the education sessions in small, group settings would help this and maybe even having women talk to the girls and men talk to the boys. Whatever makes the students more comfortable is what should be done.

    As for private schools, I think it is unfair that they be exempt from having sexual education programs. Sexual education should be a universal course that ALL students must go through, whether they attend public of private school. Allowing religion to interfere with educating your child is foolish and has not merit in my eyes.

  17. ywjpeter Says:

    Speaking from growing up within the NYC public school system, the diversity within the school system passes the idea of sex and what it is easily. Many kids now a days are already exposed to this idea even before taught or heard by parents. I am positive that many elementary school students toss this idea of sex already, not knowing exactly what it is but have this word sex implanted in their minds. Therefore, I feel sex ed should be taught. Middle schools students are very curious students, and if they know about sex, they will experiment by themselves as to what it is. Not knowing safe sex practices, increases teen pregnancies and are beginning to start earlier on.

    Sex is not to private of a matter when the consequences become public. The consequences of it are teen pregnancies, or STD’s. In both cases, I am sure that the person that was impregnated or that has an STD would have liked to know that those were the consequences. Having knowledge is better than not having any of it. Sex ed is a touchy subject and rightfully so. Parents are control freaks though, and sometimes the first time they talk about this matter is when their child is pregnant or contracted a disease. Would you not want to prevent those things from happening?

  18. lukeythekid Says:

    Sex ed should be mandatory in schools, but it needs to be refocused in order to be relevant for today’s kids. It seems as though sex ed is designed to scare kids in order to prevent them from having sex at all, when it should educate kids so that they are safer. Although today’s classes claim to do this, they are just filled with disgusting pictures of disease-ridden sexual organs, videos of the birthing process, and horror stories of kids who have had pre-marital sex. Instead, schools have to come to grips with the fact that kids are having sex at younger ages and there is nothing that they can do about it. Sex is awesome, and kids are realizing that fact a lot earlier. Because of this, sex ed should concentrate on how to deal with realistic situations in order to keep kids safe.

    As for dealing with elementary school kids, the important thing is to focus on the “birds and the bees” aspect of the issue. Obviously they should be spared the gory details, because even people who have had sex can be squeamish about certain aspects. However, the whole stork mentality needs to be dropped – if a child asks where babies come from, a parent should explain the truth about sex. It would actually be much less awkward for a parent to have “the talk” with a younger child, who would think about it much more objectively than a teenager would.

    Regarding the issue of schools’ position in a child’s life and parents who do not want their kids to be told by teachers about sex, I think that it would be a good idea if both were involved. The first step in sex ed should be for students to talk to their parents about it, so that more hesitant helicopter moms and dads are not paranoid that teachers are going to fill kids’ heads with controversial ideas about sex. It is perfectly understandable that parents want to be the first one to talk to their children, but it is also beneficial if schools then fill in the gaps and educate the kids about the ins and outs of sex.

  19. lbaek Says:

    At first, I didn’t understand why making sex education mandatory was such a big deal. I mean, sure, it can be a bit risqué but isn’t it like biology taken a step further to focus on sex? But later, I realized that there were many other factors that were influential in making this decision. For example, certain religion practices could be violated and its effectiveness could be called into question. Thus, I believe mandatory sex education is not an example of the government getting too involved in the private sphere but it should not be adopted. The government is solely fulfilling its duty of seeking the people’s best interest.

    Younger generations of children are increasingly becoming active which is reflected in shows such as MTV’s Teen Mom (I think the title is self-explanatory). So, if they are old enough to engage in these activities, they are mature enough to learn about the life-altering risk factors involved. But, are these classes really going to be effective? Along with myself, two of my fellow classmates in middle school took part in a sex-education course and ironically, I recently found out that those exact classmates were both pregnant. This is just one instance that proves sexual education is not always helpful. Sure, attempting to influence young minds through sexual education courses cant hurt, but ultimately, people are going to do what they feel like doing. For example, I’m sure we’ve all had lessons on the consequences of theft and burglary one point in our life. But has those lessons been effective? Not really. With this in mind, I believe mandatory sex education classes are not going to be a convincing force as people think it will be.

    Besides public schools, shouldn’t we respect the needs of private and catholic schools? Making sexual education mandatory is a case of considering sexual rights more important than religious rights. Ultimately, the government would be forcing religious schools to teach and reinforce a secular view of sexuality that directly contradicts its own. Such an imposition on anyone’s religious beliefs should not be tolerated for the sake of sex education. For example, religious schools will probably have a difficult time saying they are opposed to abortion without sounding judgmental and while also education students on why abortion is acceptable- including how and where they can get one. Overall, I would say that the government is getting too involved in the sphere of freedom of religion, rather than the privacy between the parents and their child. Before implementing this rule, religious schools and the question “Are these classes really going to change my child’s sex life really going to change” should be seriously be considered.

  20. emilyloz Says:

    Definitely. Sex Education is a must. I feel that the age of experimentation is getting younger and younger each and every year. Turn on the television and flip to The Disney Channel, I’m sure you will feel uncomfortable with a lot of the content being aired. One might even think, “I would never let my children watch this.”
    Parents are unable to control everything their children do, no matter how hard they try. If an adolescent wants to have sex, they will most likely find a way. Whether or not they are educated enough to have safe sex is the big question. It’s better to be safe and educated as a student than to wait and it be too late. Without education, there would be a lot of unplanned pregnancy due to ignorance. By no means, am I agreeing to lessons on how to have sex or anything inappropriate for that matter, but I do think that informing students would help decrease the amount of unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and unsafe sex. If given the option, I’m sure a lot of students would pass up the opportunity for a sex education course. Therefore yes, let’s make it mandatory in schools.

  21. jpstern Says:

    I believe that sex education is very important for high school education. It is crucial that students be made aware of the dangers that come from unsafe sex such as SDT and unplanned pregnancy. If parents are relied on to tell their children what they “need to know” then a lot of information will go unsaid. Parents of different cultures where they feel it isn’t appropriate conversation to talk about sex will not tell their children what they should know. I also do not agree with groups who believe abstinence is a must. Many teenagers have not matured past the point where doing something in spite of what they are told is funny. Therefore, pushing abstinence could cause more problems. There are many different views on sex education, but I believe it is important that students be told the real truth about sex and not be fed skewed statistics and false information just to scare them away.

  22. elmatts25 Says:

    I do think that mandatory sexual education is an example of the government being too involved in the private sphere, however I don’t find a problem with it. I believe there are some cases where government involvement in private matters is necessary. There are many elements of sex education that directly implicate the government. From funding for clinics, to the regulation of media content in music, television and movies, the government is already a major part of sex education. There are so many mixed messages, concerning sex in today’s world, that it is highly beneficial for the greater good to receive a base education for proper interpretation. Without this basis, teens are more likely to misconstrue media messages and engage in unhealthy sexual activity.
    It is almost arguable that it is one’s right to be properly informed about sexual health issues. Thus, without mandatory sex education, our rights would be essentially denied. Opponents of mandatory sex education argue that it is a private matter and should be taught by parents rather than teachers. This is a valid argument, and is exactly why the “opt out” option was created. Without any sort of sex education, the population of families who do not teach their children about healthy sex would be excluded.
    Whatever one’s personal opinions may be, it is important to think like a cosmopolitan and respect the opinions of others. It is also important to consider the fact that this “mandatory sexual education” is not in fact mandatory, there is an “opt out” option for those who believe that government intervention is inappropriate and that sex education should remain in the private sphere.

  23. cchevat Says:

    I believe that this change is a step in the right direction. Having mandatory sex education classes is becoming more and more essential. Yes some people may believe that it is the parent’s right to choose when and what they explain to their children about this topic. Sex education should not be viewed as the government trying to force their beliefs of contraception onto children but rather the fact that public schools need to be able to relay information onto its students that is necessary and relevant in today’s society. With how much technology has advanced, children have such easier access to things that relate to the issue of sex and pregnancy that some parents may not even realize. Also with the media portrayal of teenage pregnancy with shows like “Teen Mom” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”, it makes teens think that with teenage pregnancy could come money and in some respects fame. In reality, teenage pregnancy is correlated with dropping out of high school and more struggle. Globally, developing countries are having many issues with maternal health and making sure that women are healthy and that their babies are healthy. A lot of that is because women are never educated on such topics. As a country with many resources and the great education system that we have, we need to become a leader in sex education in order to ensure that other countries follow suit.

  24. ceabee Says:

    I think mandatory sex education is a positive thing for the school system. I don’t think it is an example of the government getting too involved in the private sphere because kids at that age (middle and high school) are going to talk about sex anyways, so I think it is a great idea to properly educate them on sex. This proper education will eliminate sex myths and give students all the facts in order to have save sex and avoid STDs and unwanted pregnancies. I think students that are uninformed are much more likely to experiment and test their limits if they aren’t taught these things by adults. Many parents probably avoid the “sex talk” for too long, and by the age that they actually give the talk their children may have already tried experimenting.

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