Why We Need To Talk About Sex
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Health and Wellness

Why We Need To Talk About Sex

The case against abstinence-only sex education.

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Why We Need To Talk About Sex

Here in America, a baffling 37 states out of 50 allow medically inaccurate information to be taught in sex education classes in public schools; of these, 26 use abstinence-only as their primary form of education. This includes outdated information on causes, effects, and symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases and infections; incredibly limited and inadequate anatomical information; and often little to no information on contraceptive options. In fact, although research has repeatedly shown that teens who are taught reliable information on contraceptives are up to 60 percent less likely to get pregnant, only 18 states require any coverage of birth control options. New Hampshire, one of the few states that requires comprehensive sex-ed, has the lowest rate of teen pregnancy in the country. Mississippi, on the other hand, teaches abstinence-only; they have the nation's highest percentage of teenage pregnancy. The facts are clearly in favor of a thorough, contraceptive-inclusive education, so why do the majority of states still not require it?

Despite huge advances that have been made, sex is still an incredibly taboo subject. This taboo only increases when the discussion includes teenage or premarital sex, so high school sex-ed tends to fly under the radar of many Americans. One thing, however, can be guaranteed: whether or not teachers are talking about sex, teenagers are. And as much as they will pretend otherwise, they're having it too. The more students know, the safer they're able to be—that's just common sense. In addition to this, several studies have shown that teens who receive comprehensive sex education that includes adequate coverage of birth control and sexually transmitted infections actually wait longer to have sex. Teenagers are practically guaranteed to be rebellious; if they're told abstinence is the only option, they will not only start mating like rabbits, but they will not know how to do so safely or responsibly.

Aside from all the practical issues and statistics surrounding abstinence-only education, it can have more deeply rooted effects on teen society as a whole. The idea that abstinence is the only option can be incredibly detrimental to the mental and emotional well-being of students who do choose to have sex; for instance, teenagers who have sex in abstinence-dominated communities face ostracization from their peers and, even worse, from their teachers and other leaders. These students are not only under-educated on the choices they're making, but they're being told that what they're doing is wrong.

In short, abstinence-only education is an outdated and ineffective system. If we want to do something about our country's skyrocketing teen pregnancies and improve the well-being of America's youth, we need to fundamentally change the way we talk about sex.

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