Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, put it perfectly in this Howell Patch article: “These days sex is everywhere from music to movies to television, yet when it comes to sex education and reproductive health, there is a lack of credible information” (Cuyler). She is exactly right. With this much exposure to sex in the media, why haven’t we figured out how to combat these negative representations with accurate sex education?
Another trusted source, WebMD Health News, reflects on the concept of sex education becoming less prevalent in middle and high school. Their statistics originate from Center for Disease Control (CDC) data, which show a “leveling off of the number of middle and high schools teaching their students about how to prevent HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy” (Mann). According to my high school education, I received a rare, controversial, comprehensive-sex education including a unit on contraception, a unit on HIV/AIDS, and a unit on unplanned pregnancies. Sex ed classes like the one I was fortunate enough to take a hard to come by nowadays.
According to a study of 45 states in 2008 and again in 2010, “the percentage of middle schools teaching 11 topics on HIV, STD, and pregnancy prevention in 2010 was lower in 11 states and higher in none compared with 2008 results” (Mann). In other words, little progress has been made in the last few years and this is troubling because “nearly half of all high school students have had intercourse, placing them at risk” (Mann).
Another article in the International Business Times recaps the CDC statistics as well. They conclude with a great point that will resonate with educators forever: “Families, the media, and community organizations, including faith-based organizations, can play a role in providing HIV, other STD, and pregnancy prevention education,” they said. “However, schools are in a unique position … because almost all school-aged youths in the United States attend school” (Khan).
That last point made by CDC researchers is very important to keep in mind, as a parent, as an educator, and as a peer. As a mandatory source of sex education, is it really just the school’s job to provide a student with all of the sex ed they know? What are other influences on their sexual behavior?
Cuyler, Greta. “Planned Parenthood Head: Keep Politics out of Women’s Health – Howell, NJ Patch.” Howell Patch. Web. 19 Apr. 2012.
Khan, Amir. “Sex-Ed Lagging In Schools, CDC Says.” International Business Times. 6 Apr. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2012.
Mann, Denise. “Teen Health.” Sex Ed Becoming Less Prevalent in Grades 6-12. 5 Apr. 2012. Web. 6 Apr. 2012.