Much has changed since the 1960s. Fashion, technology, civil rights, and social standards have greatly transformed into something entirely different. However, battles over comprehensive sex education and abstinence-only sex education have continued on over the years. Although it is a controversial subject, comprehensive sex education is more beneficial than abstinence-only education.
Even though abstinence-only sex education teaches teens the definitive way to avoid pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, comprehensive sex education is a better alternative because teens must learn how to practice safe sex if they do not choose abstinence. Over half of high school students engage in sexual activity, which is why it is important that comprehensive sex education programs inform the students (Schwarz 111). Keeping teens updated on contraceptives will help the students to make informed decisions. Educators “should [not] hold back information that can save lives and prevent unwanted pregnancies” (LeClair 292).
Teaching the information to highschoolers instead of avoiding it will help them in the long run to make healthy decisions. About 850,000 female teens get pregnant per year and 77% of those pregnancies between the are unplanned (Schwarz 115). By educating teens on lifechanging events that occur because of sex and the use of contraceptives, students will get a better understanding of how to make these decisions. Not only does a comprehensive sex education educate the students; the programs provide medically accurate information. These programs do not try to scare teens into doing or not oing anything.
The curriculums simply give the classes correct facts and statistics to help the adolescents understand. The teachers plan on making the teens feel in control and accountable for their decisions. Most programs address that abstinence before a long commitment is the best way to stay healthy and happy. “This goal encourages abstinence and provides teens with tools to resist sexual pressure and to understand sexual health measures” (Schwarz 136). Along with informing the students and using true facts, comprehensive programs attempt to make students feel as comfortable as possible.
Teens often feel less comfortable speaking with parents or guardians about sex than with teachers at school. The same case applies to parents who would rather have an educator teach their child about sex education. Half of all teens feel awkward speaking to their parents about sex. About 19% of parents do not feel fully comfortable having conversations with their children about sex education (Schwarz 115). Comprehensive sex programs make every student in the program feel accepted. They “do not ostracize teens who have non-traditional families” (Schwarz 131).
Instead, the teachers make each student feel comfortable and able to speak freely. On the other hand, abstinence-only education is destructive for many reasons, including the use of fear to establish a point. Instead of offering neutral information, educators in abstinence programs tend to put in opinions to make teens afraid. Teachers of abstinence-only programs tend to use shame and guilt to make the teens feel bad about themselves. Not only does this method upset the child, it could potentially upset his or her parents’ beliefs.
Abstinence-only programs may cause teenagers to feel conflicted as to what message to follow. Because teens are easily influenced, such strong opinions of teachers can make a negative impact on the teen transitioning into adulthood. Part of the fear tactics the abstinence-only educators are using also have to do with giving out medically inaccurate information. “A congressional study found that 80% of abstinence-only programs use factually incorrect curriculum or teach distorted information about reproductive health” (LeClair 305).
Some of these “factually incorrect curriculum” includes claiming that contraceptives do not work most of the time; telling the students that sweat and tears cause HIV/AIDS; and giving the wrong number of chromosomes a child inherits from a parent (LeClair 306). Abstinence programs “withhold information that could, at the least, ensure safer reproductive health for teens and might even save their lives (LeClair 300). Once again, bombarding students with false information only slow down their development.
Even more unnecessary information is thrown out during abstinence education courses, including unconstitutional religious messages. Because some religions disapprove of sex before marriage, educators of abstinence-only education discuss that matter during the course. If the students happen to have a different religion, a serious offense may be taken. The students could feel offended, and victimized. Along with abstaining from sex before marriage, some religions do not approve of gays and lesbians. Teens questioning their sexuality and or who have gay or lesbian parents may feel hurt and confused when hearing opinions such as these.
In an abstinence-only class, the likelihood of teenagers or parents being offended is greater than in a comprehensive program. Perplexing the students only creates an increase in teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Although abstinence-only programs attempt to make teens abstain from sex before marriage, some teenagers do not choose abstinence. If that is the case, they are left with no knowledge of how to stay safe. Abstinence-only education puts teens at a high risk of contracting diseases and pregnancies for no reason.
Young females are at a high risk of developing a disease and “because abstinence-only programs do not adequately address contraception, they are doing a disservice to girls by withholding information that could, at the least, ensure safer reproductive health for girls and might even save their lives” (LeClair 300). When teens do become pregnant or contract a disease, they gain “many negative consequences for themselves, their children, and society” (Kirby 144). Teen parents are less likely to graduate high school, go to college, and earn a profitable job; as well as, “become single parents” (Kirby 144).
A rapid transition to parenthood creates problems for teens in later life (Diaz et al. 87). Unfortunately, teens have a better chance of getting pregnant than older couples (Kirby 145). The stress of becoming a guardian is too big a burden for a teenager to bear. It becomes an even greater issue if the relationship between parents ends within a year of the child’s birth. According to a recent study, over half of these relationships do end early on (Diaz et al. 88). Additionally, more teens who get pregnant in their teens are likely to end up single with a child for the rest of their lives (Kirby 145).
For the sake of teenagers’ education and mental state, teens should be taught how to use protection to cut down on the rate of teen pregnancies and dropouts. Babies born from unwanted pregnancies suffer just as their parents do. According to a recent study, unexpected pregnancies result in having children that develop behavioral issues and unstable home (Diaz et al. 88). Children deserve environments to let allow thrive in. When abstinence programs keep information held from their students, the teens are more likely to become pregnant. As already established, teens do not serve as adequate parents of an infant.
Even when teenagers attempt to provide for their offspring, they tend to earn less at work, making them more in poverty than older couples (Diaz 87). Abstinence-only education does a disservice to the teens and more importantly, their innocent children. Many argue that there is an abundance of benefits to teaching teenagers abstinence-only programs; however, comprehensive education has even more beneficial qualities that overrule abstinence-only education. For example, abstinence-only education teaches teens that the only way to not become pregnant or contract sexually transmitted diseases are to abstain from sex (Ray 4).
However, comprehensive education takes a more realistic approach by stating the importance of abstinence while addressing how to take precautions. Furthermore, abstinence-only programs claim that they show the students “the greatest chance of happiness” but that path is not the same for all people in the world (Ray 4). A poll shows that “98 million Americans stated that they were single which is why it’s unrealistic to think every teen wait” (Schwarz 130). Although it has been proven that abstinence-only programs delay sexual activity by about one year, that year does not make a large difference to the teens’ lives (Ray 4).
These programs do have the government supporting them, but that does not mean that the government is correct. Many times America has gone against the government for the better. For example, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person, which was against the city code. No one today questions her rights as a United States citizen. Abstinence-only programs try to enforce this singular way of life, whereas comprehensive programs are more realistic and up-to-date on the paths of life nowadays.
Many Americans today continue the battle over sex education, but comprehensive programs will help the teens prosper throughout their lives. Although both sides have worthwhile qualities, comprehensive programs will benefit the teenagers of today. Comprehensive programs inform the students with current, accurate, information while abstinence-only programs focus on one viewpoint that uses false facts and methods that not every teen will follow. Comprehensive sex education should be taught in all high schools to make the next generation smarter, healthier, and happier.