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The Best Way to Educate Our Children about Sex Melissa Jacobsen Student ID# 160674 Western Governors University College Level Reasoning and Problem Solving- RUA2 Richard Harmston May 3, 2010

The Best Way to Educate Our Children about Sex Introduction Question at Issue What is the best way to educate our children about sex? Sex education is important to the health, wellbeing, and safety of our children. Just as teaching our children about proper nutrition and hygiene is important, so is teaching them about sex in order for them to make educated decisions about sex and to avoid unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, and other harmful emotional consequences. The results from the 2005 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) indicated that a total of 46.8 percent of high school students have had sexual intercourse and 37.2 percent of sexually active teens did not use a condom at last sexual intercourse (Eaton et al., 2006). Teens who become sexually active are in danger of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, having unplanned pregnancies, as well as experiencing emotional consequences all of which affect their wellbeing and overall health. Sex education can help children and teens to make responsible decisions about sex and to become healthy adults. Viewpoints There are many different viewpoints on the best way to educate children about sex. Some believe that sex education should be taught in schools and others believe that it is the responsibility of parents to educate their children. There is the belief that a comprehensive sex education program is better for students than abstinence only educational programs. Abstinence education is view by some as the best form of sex education for teenagers and children. Then there are those who feel that not only the physical body needs to be addressed in sex education but the emotional and psychological needs of children need to be addressed as well.


These various viewpoints have uncertainties that need to be addressed in deciding how to handle the problem at hand. One uncertainty is parental involvement in sex education. Not all parents feel comfortable in talking with their children about sex and therefore may not discuss it with their children. These parents may prefer someone who has a background in education to handle the education of their children. Another uncertainty concerns religious beliefs. Religious beliefs can be very different and can affect what individuals think should or should not be taught in sex education. For instance, Christian based religions may feel that an abstinence until marriage message is the only message students should be taught because they believe that sexual intercourse or sexual activities should only happen within marriage. Assumptions and Biases In addition to uncertainties there are assumptions and biases associated with sex education. One such assumption is that parents are the primary educators about sex. This assumption could cause problems in reasoning because not all parents are comfortable with talking with their children or want to talk to them about sex. Some parents believe that it the responsibility of the school system to educate their children about sex. Another assumption is that teenagers are going to participate in sexual activities no matter what they are taught about sex. Some teenagers will participate in sexual behaviors and therefore will make their own decisions about sex. However, parents and other authority figures can and do effect the decisions that teenagers make. This assumption could be considered a bias and as such could color a persons view about what sex education should entail. Making such a generality that all teenagers are going to be sexually active regardless of any education they may receive is a clear bias against the intelligence and self-control of teenagers. It basically makes the assumption that

teenagers have no self-control or ability to use their intelligence to make informed decisions concerning sex. In order to decide the best way to educate children about sex these assumptions as well as evidence in support of the different viewpoints should be carefully evaluated. Evaluation of Viewpoints, Evidence, and Reasoning First Viewpoint First Piece of Evidence One viewpoint to be evaluated is that comprehensive sex education that encourages students to delay having sex and teaches about human development should be taught to students. One goal of comprehensive sex education is to enable students to make responsible and healthy decisions about sex. One piece of evidence used to support this viewpoint is the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: K -12 by SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) which serve as a framework to facilitate the development of a comprehensive sex education program. These guidelines state that a comprehensive sex education program should place an emphasis on informed decision making about intercourse by acknowledging, without condemnation, the broad range of adolescent sexual behaviors. Furthermore, these guidelines are made up of six key concepts which are human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture (National Guidelines Task Force, 2004). Strengths, Weaknesses, Assumptions and/or Biases Using these guidelines as evidence to support this viewpoint has both strengths and weaknesses. This evidence is strong in the sense that the guidelines stem from a national task force made up of experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the National School Boards Association. Each of these


groups has expertise in one or more of the following fields: adolescent development, health care, and education. Using the claim that experts developed the guidelines is considered an appeal to authority. An appeal to authority needs to be carefully evaluated because it is possible that not all authorities posses the necessary expertise to support their claims. In this instance the CDC lends reliability to this task force because they are experts in adolescent health, growth and the spread of disease and have no clear biases for or against any particular form of sex education. However, the inclusion of Planned Parenthood Federation of America on the task force could be considered a weakness for this evidence because they may bring a biased view into the guidelines. This group is comprised of experts in the healthcare field; they are health care providers which as stated above could be considered a strength. However, they are also pro choice advocates and as such by participating they can push their own agenda for abortion and could benefit by receiving additional clients for their clinics. Therefore, they have a conflict in interests and may have a problem staying neutral and objective. Furthermore, when developing a curriculum which would be used in a school setting where the students are essentially a captive audience and may not have the choice to leave they could push their biased agenda concerning abortion. An additional strength to this evidence is that the guidelines are periodically updated to reflect new information. In other words as additional research brings new information the guidelines are adjusted to include any necessary changes. An additional weakness to this evidence is that these guidelines have specific values built into them that may not align with the values of others. For instance, one value is in a pluralistic society, people should respect and accept the diversity of values and beliefs about sexuality that exist in a community (National Guidelines Task Force, 2004, p. 20). This in essence is saying that everyone should respect the

beliefs and values others have about sexuality. There are people who would not agree to this because they may not be willing to accept another persons beliefs and values if they feel that those beliefs cause harm to children. For instance, if a group of people believe that ten year old children are sexual creatures and that they should be allowed to express themselves sexually through sexually explicit photographs this value states that everyone in the community should respect and accept this view even though this is in essence pornography and against the law. So obviously some people would object to respecting this view on sexuality and may reject this piece of evidence. Second Piece of Evidence Researchers from the University of Washington analyzed data collected in 2002-2003 through the National Survey of Family Growth or NSFG, which is conducted by the CDC. Their analysis shows that students who receive comprehensive sex education have a lower risk of teen pregnancy than those who receive abstinence only education or no sex education. They found

that abstinence only education had no significant effect on the reduction of teen pregnancy and that comprehensive sex education had a marginal effect on the reduction of teen pregnancy (Kohler, Manhart, & Lafferty, 2008). This piece of evidence has both strengths and weaknesses. Strengths, Weaknesses, and Bias/Assumptions Pamela Kohler, Lisa Manhart, and William Lafferty are the researchers who conducted the data analysis and they are from the Department of Health Services, the Department of Epidemiology, and the Center for AIDS and STD and are experts in their fields. This can be viewed as strength for this evidence because of the critical thinking standard of relevance. It is relevant that they are experts in these fields and it directly affects their credibility to make judgments about data relating to these fields. In addition, this evidence is strong because other

THE BEST WAY TO EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN ABOUT SEX studies have expressed similar results. For instance, a randomized controlled trial of four

federally funded abstinence only programs conducted by Mathematica Policy Research found no significant decrease in teen pregnancy (Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. website, 2007). The scientific method is used in research studies to produce results that can be reproduced by others, or that are verifiable by others, to ensure accuracy and non bias through control, and to be precise in the findings. Since other studies have produced similar results it is safe to say that the scientific method has been used and the results have credibility. However, even though the data was collected from the national survey and the original survey sample was large, which would be a strength, this sample may be biased or one sided which would be a weakness. The researchers limited their sample to those teenagers who were never married, between the ages of 15 and 19 years old who had reported having sex education prior to having sex and to those who had no reported sex education prior to having sex. The sample size of those who had reported having no previous sex education was small compared to those who had reported having sex education which could skew the results. Any bias must be controlled for in order to meet the standards of the scientific method and therefore the generalizations made from this research may not be reliable. Another weakness in this evidence is that the survey was not intended to study abstinence only programs and the survey questions only asked if participants had received formal sex education prior to first sexual activity. The questions did not address the quality, length, context, content, or amount of education received. Therefore the measures the researches created to determine the type of sex education received can only be considered as substitute measures (Kohler et al., 2008). These substitute or proxy measures may not be a realistic representation of the survey sample. Last of all, another weakness that is inherent to surveys is that the information gained through the questions may or

may not be reliable. Survey participants may not always answer questions honestly. They may give the answer they think they are supposed to give instead of the truth. Therefore, the evidence needs to be weighed carefully. Third Piece of Evidence The next piece of evidence in support of comprehensive sex education is that abstinence only sex education programs generate fear of sexuality and leave students misinformed about contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases, and other aspects of sexual behavior. Many of these programs also promote biases based on gender, sexual orientation, marriage, family structure, and pregnancy options. No More is a web site set up by SIECUS that is dedicated to educating the public about abstinence only sex education and the need to stop federal support for such programs. The web site quotes various federally funded abstinence only programs and uses those quotes to show bias and misinformation that they present to students (No More Money website, 2008). Strengths, Weaknesses, and Biases/Assumptions The use of quotes from various abstinence only programs can be considered strong because it is information taken directly from the programs. For instance, one quote is taken from the Reasonable Reasons to Wait teachers guide from page 19 that says AIDS can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact (as cited in No More Money website, 2008) which is medically inaccurate information. HIV is contracted through blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk (, 2009). Therefore, HIV cannot be contracted through skin-to-skin contact without bleeding. Another quote is from Choosing the Best Path, leader guide on page 18 that says Condoms provide no proven reduction in protection against Chlamydia, the most common bacterial STD (as cited in No More Money website, 2008). The next strength of this

THE BEST WAY TO EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN ABOUT SEX evidence is that SIECUS is able to correct the misinformation given on the use of condoms with facts on condom use obtained from the CDC. The CDC says that Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly reduce the risk of transmission of STDs such as Gonorrhea,

Chlamydia, and Trichomoniasis (Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2010, p. 1). The weaknesses of this evidence are from two main points. First, SIECUS being in control of this web site. SIECUS is a strong supporter for comprehensive sex education and that viewpoint would clearly be biased against abstinence only sex education programs. Therefore, they may not be open to what an abstinence only program has to offer in educating children about sex. They would heavily favor comprehensive programs. Second, when quoting excerpts from material it would be very easy to twist or manipulate the information to suit your own agenda or to take it out of context and misrepresent the information. Any information taken from these quotes would need to be put into context and verified against credible sources. Furthermore, the No More Money web site has made the assumption that all abstinence only programs provide incomplete information. Not all abstinence only programs are the same. Abstinence can be taught without providing incomplete information or without distorting information. Second Viewpoint First Piece of Evidence The second viewpoint to be evaluated is that abstinence only education is beneficial to students. The first piece of evidence to support this view is statistics from a survey. In an annual national survey, With One Voice 2004 by Bill Albert, 94 percent of teens believe that a stronger message to abstain from sex at least until after high school should be given to teens by society, 70 percent of teens think it is not okay for high school teens to have sex, and two-thirds of sexually active teens wish they had waited longer before becoming sexually active (Albert,

2004). Strengths, Weaknesses, and Biases The first strength of this evidence is the survey participants were chosen randomly and comprised of 1000 participants. In order for a survey to be applicable to be generalized the sample size needs to be large and this sample meets that criteria. The second strength is the questions were asked in differing orders to help prevent contextual issues. When using surveys as evidence one must be careful of the wording of the questions as well as the questions being taken out of context. By changing the order of the questions the researchers are hoping to avoid any contextual issues. The third strength is the results were compared to previous years results and survey questions remained the same or minor changes were done but explained in detail. By comparing the results from years past researchers can see the trends and changes and they can analyze the data accordingly insuring sufficiency. There are three weaknesses with this evidence. First, as with all surveys there is the possibility of the participants not being truthful when answering the questions and this could skew the results. Surveys are based on trust that participants will be honest so measures must be taken to account for the possibility that some will not be completely honest. Second, even though the sample has been chosen at random there is no information presented about the time of day the telephone survey was conducted. If the telephone calls were made at the same time of day instead of different times of the day the sample could be biased because participants may only represent a small portion of the population. The third weakness is in the simplification or generalization of the results. The results are presented in the form of percentages which can easily be manipulated. In order to determine if the results have been over simplified we need to know exact numbers. The information needs to be presented in absolute terms not relative terms.

THE BEST WAY TO EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN ABOUT SEX As stated above, one bias could be with the type of people selected to participate in the study. For instance, if the survey was completed mostly be stay at home moms who share the same views on the topic the results would be biased in favor of those views. Second Piece of Evidence The next piece of evidence in support of abstinence only education is from the 2004 Zogby international poll which found that of a representative national sample of parents with children 17 or younger, parents overwhelmingly reject the message of comprehensive sex education in favor of abstinence education (Rector, Pardue, & Martin, 2004). Strengths, Weaknesses, and Biases


One of the strengths of this evidence is that the survey sample size is large, 1004 people selected at random. In order for the survey to be justified in the conclusions it makes the sample must be large and random, the larger the sample the more dependable the conclusions (Browne & Keeley, 2007). The next strength is the survey was short. It consisted of 14 questions and the margin for error on each question is plus or minus 3.2 percent points (Rector et al., 2004, p. 1). Shorter surveys are better because longer surveys are less reliable due to participants becoming tired and that may affect how they answer the questions. Just as the order and wording of the questions is important so is the length of the survey. Continuing on to the weaknesses of the survey, the first is as stated before, the survey could be flawed because of participants not being truthful or by responding with what they think they should say. Another weakness is in the wording of some of the questions. Some questions seem to lead the participant to agree with abstinence only sex education over other options. As an example, question number two on the survey asked The following is a list of topics that might be included in sex education classes for high

school students. Assuming that a high school has sex-ed classes, please tell me do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree that the class should teach the following to teen students: The best choice is for sexual intercourse to be linked to love, intimacy, and commitment. These qualities are most likely to occur in a faithful marriage. (Zogby, as cited in Rector et al., 2004, p. 3) The wording of the question could lead someone to answer in agreement to the question. A better question would have been in what instance is sex okay and then give multiple options for the answer which reflect multiple perspectives. Another problematic question is Individuals who are not sexually active until they are married have the best chances of martial stability and happiness (Zogby, as cited in Rector et al., 2004, p. 4). The question implies that individuals who have sex outside of marriage have unstable marriages and are unhappy. This is very biased and leading. Again, in a survey one cannot assume that the responses accurately reflect true attitudes or beliefs because the responses could have been lead or participants could have shaded the truth. Furthermore, one bias found in this evidence is that the survey questions where developed by Focus on the Family which is a Christian group whose religious beliefs would not support a comprehensive sex education program and therefore they may have worded the questions to be in favor of abstinence only sex education. Third Piece of Evidence Last of all a study in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that teens who watched high amounts of television with sexual behaviors depicted and sexual content were twice as likely as those who watched minimal amounts to initiate sexual intercourse during the following year. Also, exposure to television that included only talk about sex was associated with the same risks as exposure to TV that depicted sexual



behaviors (Collins et al., 2004, p. 2) High levels of exposure to sexual content were associated with advanced forms of sexual behavior as well (Collins et al., 2004). Therefore, comprehensive sex education should not be used because of the discussion of explicit sexual content. Strengths, Weaknesses, and Biases/Assumptions There are several strengths related to this evidence. First, the evidence is from a reliable source, a peer-reviewed journal that does not accept a study until it has been reviewed by a series of relevant experts. An additional strength of this evidence is that the results of parts of this study replicate the results from earlier studies which found the same pattern of association with high sexual content TV viewing and an increase in sexual activity. This is a strength because without replication a study cannot meet the requirements of the scientific method which serves as a guide to maintain the integrity of a study. In order for a study to be reliable it must be replicable by others, it must be from a reliable source, and the research must be well done. However, there are weaknesses with the evidence. For instance, in this study there was an inability to control for adolescents who were interested in sex or sexual readiness before television viewing. These adolescents who are considering sexual activities but have not acted yet may watch more sex on TV and therefore may engage in these activities sooner because of their high levels of interest and not because of their television viewing habits. The failure to take this into account could skew the results to show a higher rate of influence on sexual behavior due to television exposure than there really is. Another weakness is that the study relies on the participants being truthful about their sexual experience in the initial evaluation and in later evaluations. Participants for various reasons may not be truthful, or may be uncomfortable expressing their true experience with sex. So the results need to be considered with this in mind. Third Viewpoint

First Piece of Evidence The last viewpoint to be studied is that sex education should address the social and emotional consequences of sexual activity. Sexual activities or behaviors affect a person both physically and psychologically. The first piece of evidence is a study conducted by researchers from the University of California (UCSF) which found that out of 618 students who participated in the study beginning in their freshman year of high school, 44 percent reported having intercourse or oral sex by the end of their tenth grade year. Out of those who had oral sex, 41 percent said they felt bad about themselves afterwards, close to 20 percent felt guilty, and 25 percent felt used. Of those who had intercourse 36 percent felt bad afterwards, 42 percent felt guilty, and 38 percent said they felt used. Boys and girls were affected differently. Girls were twice as likely as boys to report feeling bad about themselves and three times as likely to feel used. Boys on the other hand were more than twice as likely to report experiencing popularity and self-confidence (Brady & Halpern-Felsher, 2007). The researchers concluded that adolescents should be talked to about how to cope with and reduce the possibility of experiencing negative physical, social, and emotional consequences of having sex, so that when they do make thoughtful decisions to engage in sex it will be more likely to lead to positive physical and mental health outcomes. Strengths, Weaknesses, and Biases The first strength of this study is that it was published in a peer-reviewed journal that does not accept a study unless it had been reviewed by other experts in the field. Pediatrics is the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The American Academy of Pediatrics mission is to attain optimal physical, mental, and social health and wellbeing for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults (American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP], 2010, p. 1).

THE BEST WAY TO EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN ABOUT SEX Due to their dedication to provide optimal health and well-being for young adults and children the American Academy of Pediatrics have a reputation for being reliable. The next strength of this evidence is that the studys sample was diverse in ethnicity. The sample was 40 percent white, 19 percent Latino, 17 percent Asian or Pacific Islander, 4 percent black, and 20 percent


multiethnic (Brady & Halpern-Felsher, 2007). As stated before a studys sample size needs to be large and selected randomly. The sample is composed of different ethnic groups and this shows that the results can be related to these ethnic groups. If the sample was composed only of one ethnic group than the result could not be generalized to include other groups in the results. Furthermore, there are weaknesses with this study. First, the study focused on 618 students from only two different high schools in one region of California and therefore cannot be representative of other regions of the country. These results should only be considered as representative of this small area in California. It cannot be broadly applied to all teens in the United States further research should be conducted in various areas across the United States in order for it to apply to all teenagers in the United States. Second, this study relied on self-reports from the participants who were guaranteed confidentiality. Even though they were guaranteed confidentiality there is no way to know if the students were completely honest when completing the surveys. There is a chance that the results may not be reliable. Second Piece of Evidence The Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education developed by SIECUS support the need to educate students about the social and emotional consequences of sexuality. The guidelines specifically address social and emotional issues in key concepts of human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture (National Guidelines Task Force, 2004). Through these specific areas the guidelines give

students the tools necessary to make thoughtful decisions concerning sex. For instance, through the key concept of personal skills students are taught about and how to use specific personal and interpersonal skills that are necessary for the development of healthy sexuality. Some examples are students are taught to take responsibility for ones own behavior, to identify and live according to their own values, and to practice effective decision making. Strengths, Weaknesses, and Biases/Assumptions These guidelines were developed by a task force made up of leaders in the fields of health, adolescent development, and disease prevention and control which makes the evidence strong. Additionally, the primary goal of comprehensive sex education is to develop a sexually healthy adult. These guidelines align with that goal. Strength is found in the flexibility of the guidelines. They have been designed in a manner that allows for adaptation. Anyone who chooses to use these guidelines has the flexibility to interpret the information presented and teach it according to the values of the community. For example, one of the presented life behaviors of a sexually healthy adult is to express love and intimacy in appropriate ways (National Guidelines Task Force, 2004, p. 16). Appropriate is a vague or ambiguous word and usually would be considered a weakness as such. However, because it is vague, teaching what is appropriate becomes easier for each community because they can teach what is appropriate for them. Also, topics can be adjusted to the age of the students receiving the education. Moreover, weaknesses are found in the guidelines. As stated before the values that are presented in the guidelines may not be agreeable to everyone. If the values in the guidelines conflict with the values of others they may be discarded and the argument for comprehensive sex education would be weakened. In addition, the interpretation of the guidelines could be a weakness. Anytime something is interpreted it could cause problems. Interpretations can create

THE BEST WAY TO EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN ABOUT SEX conflict when there are disagreements about the interpretations. Potential Solutions First Solution The first potential solution for educating our children about sex would be to offer a comprehensive sex education program that addresses the whole person. A comprehensive sex


education program should include education about human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture (National Guidelines Task Force, 2004). By including information from all six areas students should be able to make educated decisions about sex. Furthermore, comprehensive sex education that places an emphasis on informed decision making about intercourse and other sexual behavior will include discussion about the broad range of adolescent sexual behavior without condemnation. This discussion will help students from various life experiences without making them feel shameful or guilty about their feelings or sexual experience or inexperience. Additionally, this type of sex education may reduce teen pregnancy better than abstinence only education. A study conducted by researchers from the University of Washington analyzed data from the National Survey of Family Growth from 2002-03. Their analysis showed that comprehensive sex education had a greater effect on reducing teen pregnancy than abstinence only programs (Kohler et al., 2008). Comprehensive sex education may increase contraceptive use which would account for the reduction of teen pregnancies. Abstinence only programs either do not discuss contraceptives at all or only discuss their failures. This in turn leads to less contraceptive use which increases the risk for pregnancy. In addition, fear based abstinence only programs are detrimental to students because they misinform, produce fear and shame, and censor the information students receive. These fear

based programs try to instill the fear of death into students by telling students that premarital sex and extramarital sex leads to sexually transmitted disease such as AIDS (No More Money website, 2008). They twist statistics on the use of contraceptives which in turn does put students at risk for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Limitation and Biases of the Solution This solution presents limitations and Biases. First, a limitation with this option is that not all parents will agree with the values presented in comprehensive sex education and this conflict could cause the program to be discarded. For instance, comprehensive sex education values respecting the sexual choices of everyone and that everyone should respect and accept these choices. This could be a problem in certain situations such as for those who chose a homosexual life style and those who believe that the homosexual life style is wrong. If this topic is included or exclude from the sex education program some will be offended or may voice protest against the choice that has been made. Therefore, the values of the community and parents need to be in alignment for the program to have a chance for success. A biases which needs to be addressed is with one of the groups involved in developing the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education may have influenced and included topics to be discussed that promotes their own agenda for advocacy for abortion. This could be seen as a limitation as well because when curriculum including this is presented to students they are a captive audience and have no control over what they hear. Therefore, they could be exposed to a one sided argument for abortion without the opportunity to hear about the negative consequences or risks of abortion or other options such as adoption. Second Solution The next solution would be a sex education program that discusses abstinence as the main



focus. A national survey conducted in 2004 states that 94 percent of teens believe that they need to receive a stronger message from society to abstain from sex. In addition, this survey showed that 70 percent of teenagers think that it is not okay for high school teens to have sex and twothirds of sexually active teens wish they had waited longer before becoming sexually active (Albert, 2004). This survey suggests that an abstinence message is and would be welcomed by students. Moreover, a poll conducted in 2003 by Zogby shows that parents with children 17 years old and younger reject comprehensive sex education in favor of abstinence education (Rector et al., 2004). Based on the poll 79 percent of parents want young people taught that sex should wait for marriage or for an adult relationship leading to marriage. Parents want their children to abstain from sexual behaviors and want them to receive an education that will support this view. Also, excessive exposure to sexual content encourages sexual behaviors in students. A study published in Pediatrics, a journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that teens who watched high amounts of television with sexual content were twice as likely as those who watched minimal amounts to initiate sexual intercourse during the following year. Also, these high levels of exposure to sexual content were associated with advanced forms of sexual behavior. This has been linked to not only watching sexual content but also from the discussion of sexual behaviors. Therefore, students should receive abstinence education which does not focus on explicit sexual behaviors. Limitations As with all options there are limitations. One limitation to this type of sex education is that with abstinence as the main focus, students who are already sexually active may not think that the message applies to them. In order for this type of education to work sexually active

teens need to feel included in the discussions and they need to know that everyone can practice abstinence even if they have had sex. Another limitation is that abstinence only education can leave students vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy. Abstinence only works as long as the student remains abstinent. If a student participates in sexual activities and has not received education on how to use contraceptives they may not know how to use them or that they should use them. The Best Solution Based on the information presented the best solution would be a flexible comprehensive sex education program that is adaptable to the communities in which it is taught and offers abstinence education as on option. The SIECUS guidelines for Comprehensive Sex Education are set up in such a way that they can be adapted to the values of the community in which they are used. These guidelines encourage input from not only the teachers who will be teaching the subject, but also parents, religious leaders, and school administrators. Furthermore, this type of education can help to prevent teen pregnancy and STDs through both abstinence and through the proper use of contraceptives. This type of education also addresses the emotional and social sides of sex. By addressing these areas students will be aware of the emotional and social consequences of sexual behaviors and they will have the skills necessary to cope with these situations and to make competent decisions concerning sex. Additionally, abstinence only works to prevent pregnancy and disease as long as the person stays abstinent. Once students or adults become sexually active they need to know how to prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. They will also need to know how to deal with the emotional and social repercussions of sexual activity. Therefore, education which combines abstinence with comprehensive sex education has a better chance of developing

THE BEST WAY TO EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN ABOUT SEX a sexual healthy adult. Furthermore, by including abstinence education as an option, not only


will it delay sexual activity in teens, it also has the support of parents and students according to the Zogby poll and the 2004 national survey. Limitations However, there are limitations to this solution. Relying on polls and surveys for information can be unreliable. Participants can provide false information and survey questions can be leading or biased. Relying on false information or information which could have been biased may lead to making a decision which logically may not be the best decision. Furthermore, various studies have been used to support this viewpoint. Studies have various limitations as well. For instance, have they been conducted impartially, with controls in place, are they in alignment with the scientific method, and are they reproducible? If other researchers conduct the same study and cannot reproduce the results than that study is not reliable. Another limitation to this solution can be found with the individuals involved in implementing a sex education program. Individuals may not have the same values, views or ideas. If all parties cannot agree on a plan for the program, the program will fail. Defense of Best Solution in Spite of Limitations Despite these limitations comprehensive sex education can meet the needs of the students and parents. It is adaptable to every environment and age. A study by Douglas Kirby shows that effective sex education programs include an emphasis on abstinence as the safest way to avoid pregnancy and STDs, condoms and other forms of contraceptives provide protection against pregnancy and disease, and are safer than unprotected sex (Kirby, 2002). Therefore, comprehensive sex education which does not include abstinence education or abstinence only education which does not include education about contraceptives leaves students only partially

protected. Moreover, the studies used to support this view were conducted with controls and discussed and accounted for their own limitations. Furthermore, the experts that participated in these studies are reliable and should be trusted as such.


23 (2009). How is HIV transmitted. Retrieved from Albert, B. (2004). With one voice 2004 Americas adults and teens sound off about teen pregnancy an annual national survey. Retrieved from American Academy of Pediatrics. (2010). About the American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved May 3, 2010, from Brady, S. S., & Halpern-Felsher, B. L. (2007, February 1). Adolescents reported consequences of having oral sex versus vaginal sex. Pediatrics, 119, 229-236. doi: 10.1542/peds.20061727 Browne, M. N., & Keeley, S. M. (2007). How good is the evidence. In Asking the right questions a guide to critical thinking (pp. 117-136). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Condoms and STDs fact sheet for public health personnel. Retrieved from Collins, R. L., Elliot, M. N., Berry, S. H., Kanouse, D. E., Kunkel, D., Hunter, S. B., & Miu, A. (2004, September 3). Watching sex on television predicts adolescent initiation of sexual behavior. Pediatrics, 114, 280-289. doi: 10.1542/peds.2003-1065-L Eaton, D. K., Kann, L., Kinchen, S., Ross, J., Hawkins, J., Harris, W. A., & Lowry, R. (2006). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance United States 2005. Retrieved from Kirby, D. (2002). Effective approaches to reducing adolescent unprotected sex, pregnancy, and childbearing. The Journal of Sex Research, 39, 51-57.

Kohler, P. K., Manhart, L. E., & Lafferty, W. E. (2008, April). Abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education and the initiation of sexual activity and teen pregnancy. Journal of Adolescent Health, 42, 344-351. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.08.026 Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. website. (2007). National Guidelines Task Force. (2004). Guidelines for comprehensive sexuality education. Retrieved from No More Money website. (2008). Rector, R. E., Pardue, M. G., & Martin, S. (2004). What do parents want taught in sex education programs. Retrieved from SIECUS website. (2004).