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Crystal Rood

Suzanne Webb

Writ 122

September 20, 2008

The Right Sex Education

One in four American teenage girls, aged 14-19, are infected with at least one of

the four most common STDs (HPV, chlamydia, genital herpes, and trichomoniasis)

(Gross, par. 1). The truth is, there are many people dealing with a detrimental, life-long

disease, or other consequence resulting from a bad decision about sex in their teenage

years. I think that a comprehensive sex education program initiated during the first year

of middle school would help to change the teenage views about sex and right the trend of

these damaging decisions. The focus needs to shift from telling teens what they can and

cannot do, to giving teens the appropriate tools and information to make the better and

more conventional decisions we all hope they would make. A comprehensive approach to

sex education means teaching adolescents about more than just abstinence. Although

abstinence remains the anchor point for lecture, safe sex is also taught. The instructor

informs students about protecting themselves from STD’s with the use of abstinence and

condoms, how to prevent unexpected pregnancy with abstinence and the use of

contraceptives available to them at many health clinics including birth control and the

“plan B” morning after pill. Also in the lesson plan, will be the always-mortifying

physiological explanation about what sex is, and the biology and anatomy involved

during intercourse. Comprehensive sex education is a well-rounded and complete

explanation of a fact of life called sex.

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You might say that educating teenagers on safe sex will give them the incentive to

engage in sexual activity earlier than they might otherwise have. According to the Center

for Disease Control (CDC), in 2005 43% of teens aged 14-17 have engaged in some sort

of sexual activity at least once (Anderson, par. 34). That is less than half, so already the

majority of teenagers are practicing abstinence. Also condoms are found to be only 69%

effective in preventing the spread of AIDS and 87% effective in preventing pregnancy

due to improper use (Anderson, par. 12). Based on this you may object and say that

telling teens to use condoms is a 31% or 13% chance of a disaster waiting to happen. But

for that 43%, they need to be given the right tools to lessen their chances of experiencing

one of those life-altering consequences. This is not to say that abstinence is unimportant,

but it is naive to think that we can really keep all teenagers from experimenting with

sexual activity. Teenagers will always find a way to do what they want to do. I am not

trying to make teens cognizant in being sneaky, I just want to make sure they are more

informed in hopes that they will make better educated decisions about the activities they

engage in. Any parent can tell you that they (teenagers) won’t hear us telling them no, but

they may listen to suggestions.

As a teen I was fortunate to have very open minded and approachable parents.

They taught me about condoms, STDs, and several other things dealing with delaying

sexual activity and also safely engaging in it. My two best friends were not so lucky, and

they were also a part of that 43%. Our school did not teach a comprehensive sexual

education course. My friends did not have parents who would fill in the holes that

abstinence-only teaching will leave behind. Both of them not only had their first baby by

age 16, but also had two more by age 21 with multiple fathers. Even the current 2008
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election vice-president candidate Sarah Palin, who is a strong advocate of abstinence-

only education, has a seventeen year old daughter who is 5 months pregnant (Mehta,

par.1). Palin has been quoted saying, "Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my

support." (qtd. In Mehta, par. 19). Yet her own family is proof of the failure in

abstinence-only sex education. The statistics have already narrowed the options for us.

The University of Washington did a recent study and found that for 15-19 year

old teens who received comprehensive sex education versus just the abstince-only

teachings were less likely to become pregant (“Abstinence Causes Pregnancy,” par. 1). In

many of the studies I have read, experts say that comprehensive is the way to go. I find it

astonishing that so many politicians (like the current president George W. Bush and

Palin) advocate so much for absitnence-only sex education when the evidence exists that

it has abandoned so many of our teens. Investigators for the National Survey of Family

Growth found that teens that received abstinence-only instruction did not show a

significant difference in the number involved in a young pregnancy from those who

received no instruction at all (“Sex Education: What Works?,” par. 1). I often wonder

what if my high school friends had known more about contreception and the many

resources available to them from confidential agencies such as Planned Parenthood. They

may have had a different future. It’s not impossible for them to get back into school and

fulfill their dream job, but with three little ones, it is definately a much bigger financial

and emotional challenge.

Teens need to be disciplined in proper actions, sheltering them from what they

many encounter will not develop them into responsible young adults. We should tell

these kids to abstain from sex until marriage and the many reasons why, but if that should
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fail we will also inform them for possible consequences and how to prevent them. We

should teach them about STDs and ways to lessen your chances of contracting one,

pregnancy and prevention methods as well as telling them the resources and

confidentiality available to them while obtaining contraceptives. It is also important we

teach teens how to keep their self respect, and avoid being taken advantage of. Teens

need to be aware of the emotional scars they may also endure. Comprehensive sex

education in our middle schools would accomplish just this.

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Works Cited

“Abstinence causes pregnancy.(nelligrams)(Brief article).”Herizons 22.1 (Summer 2008):

7(1). AcedemicOneFile. Gale. Lansing Community College Library. 16 Sept.


Anderson, Kerby. “Comprehensive Sex Education Does Not Work,” At Issue: Sex

Education, Ed. KristenBailey. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005. Opposing

Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale.Lansing Community College Library, 17 Sept.

2008 <


user GroupName=lom_lansingcc&version=1.0>

Gross, Kate. "STD shock.(SEXUALITY)(sexually transmitted diseases)(Brief

Article)." Youth StudiesAustralia 27.2 (June 2008): 10(1). Academic

OneFile. Gale. Lansing Community CollegeLibrary. 16 Sept. 2008 <http://envoy.>.

Mehta, Seema. “Palin Appears to Disagree with McCain on Sex Education.” Los Angeles

Times 6 Sept. 2008, 18 Sept 2008 <


Schneider, Mary Ellen. “Teenage birth rate increases; sex education delays debut.

(Adolescent Health)(Report).” Internal Medicine News 41.8 (April 15, 2008):

12(1). Acedemic OneFile. Gale. Lansing Community College Library. 16 Sept.

2008 <>.

"Sex education: what works?(FYI)(Survey)(Brief article)." Perspectives on Sexual and

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ReproductiveHealth 40.2 (June 2008): 64(1). Academic OneFile. Gale. Lansing

Community College Library. 16 Sept. 2008 <>.