The goal of this study is to create an effective presentation in regards a sexual education course to parents with school-age children. In particular, the main focus will be on parents with children in early adolescence, meaning between ages 13 and 16. In order to approach the topic of school counseling on human sexuality, researches and numerous studies considering this matter are taken into account and the outline of the sex education course will be based on existing educational courses and lecture types that are already implemented all across the United States.
The two main styles that will be used to counsel parents with adolescent children on human sexuality will include Contraceptive sex education and Abstinence sex education, as being employed in most U.S schools. Statistical data deriving from previous studies from styles are compared. Additionally, the best practices from both of them are also used, to create a more appealing sex education course for parents.
Taking for granted that sex education should best start from home, this study attempts to analyze the statistical data and demographics from U.S schools and most recent studies in order to determine the effectiveness of the presented sex education course.
Sex education is considered one of the most controversial issues in today’s world. The most conservative education representatives appear rather hesitant in teaching a subject that is so sensitive, as sex education, to students. However, leaving that aside, students-our children- need to be educated in regards their sexuality and be taught on the best and most effective means to deal with it. For that reason, a sex education course for parents is found essential. The course will discuss the particular needs of adolescent students, the curriculum currently used in U.S schools, what is the most effective way to integrate current sex education courses and any potential problems deriving on the way to implementing our new sex education course.
It is widely accepted that our children nowadays get much great influence from their environment, meaning their peers, family, educators, social media and interactions, than in former years. Since their decisions are influenced by the aforementioned, it is crucial that we educate them as to how to make healthy choices, in terms of their sexual behavior and avoid all negatives coming from misinformation, like sexually transmitted disease and of course, unwanted pregnancies.
Studies have shown that the age group that runs a higher risk of being involved in unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease is that of around 17 and up to their late 20s (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2002 p.8). Henshaw has conducted another study, according to which approximately 800,000 teenage girls need to deal with pregnancy and a devastating 80 percent of those pregnancies are unwanted (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2004). Those studies, that are only a mere fraction of the vast array of relate researches and studies, point out the significance of educating our children as early as their early adolescence, meaning from ages 13 through 16, to prevent unwanted consequences found in ages 17-20. According to the factsheet published by the World Health Organization, lack of education in many countries contribute to the “16 million girls aged 15 to 19 years and two million girls under the age of 15 [that] give birth every year” (WHO, 2012). Fortunately, form the mid 1940s and onwards, teen birth rate has reached historic low, with a 9 percent decline, in 2010 (Hamilton & Ventura, 2012 p.1-2), mostly because of the sex education curriculum and efforts of educators. However, there are still teenage mothers, so we need to continue educating our children on sexually transmitted disease and sex-related matters.
The current educational methods used in U.S schools are those that focus on abstinence and those that mainly revolve around contraception, with abstinence method being more widely accepted. In abstinence-adopted sex education courses, school children are taught that pre-marital sex is considered immoral and that they should avoid any sexual experience until they get married. In contraceptive-related educational sex courses, inform students how to use prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. It seems, though, that conservatives has imposed serious arguments to the contraceptives ex-education method, for the message passed on to children. For that reason, it might be nest to allow statistics and numbers talk. It is proven that unwanted teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease have declined by about three quarters due to effective contraception, as opposed to a quarter of the decline ascribed to abstinence (Darroch, 1999). Another interesting study has shown that U.S teenage children as less likely to use contraception, compared to the teenagers of other developing countries that appear to have more controlled teen births (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2001).
Truth is that both sex education methods have proven results in preventing teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease, even if they do so in different proportions. So, it would be wise to try to integrate both methods in a unifying well-rounded curriculum that will attempt to fill in the blanks of both methods. Based on the fact that a vast majority of children in their early adolescence ask questions in regards abortion, contraceptives and how to deal with pressure to have sex, and that two out of three parents in the United States request for broader sex-education-related topics (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2000 Chart 11-12), I suggest we start with the basics and gradually ramble. In detail, my suggestion is to start educating on abstinence and morality, and pass on to our children that this is the best means to avoid unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Then, contraception can be introduced, alongside its implications. That way, the sex education course will have a more spherical approach and our children can be more informed on what comes with premature sexual contact. Having fully informed students on sex-related matters can significantly help them to avoid premature sexual contact, and in cases that such has happened, it is proven that those students use contraceptives in high rates (Kirby, 2001 p.9).
Consequently, we actually help our children make healthy choices in regards their sexuality, since they are educated on all the negatives deriving from an unhealthy sexual relationship. Given that we cannot be present and look over everything our child engages in, we cannot exclude the fact that premature sexual contact will not happen at some point in time, we need to help them be responsible and able to make mature sex-related choices that will prevent them from experiencing unwanted results, like the ones already mentioned. That is the reason why we need to have a backup plan and not withhold any information considering the use of condoms and contraceptives. I think we all agree that children left to their curiosity is the worst thing we could allow our community to have. Curiosity will most likely urge our children to have premature sexual experiences, and the same applies to children being taught solely about abstinence until they eventually get married. In most cases, we see those children actually driving on the opposite side and have many sexual partners from an early age, which undoubtedly increases the risks of sexually transmitted disease, with HIV on top of them. If we want to protect our children from the plague of the newest century, we need to have them properly informed of the importance of healthy sexual relationships and that they need not to rush things from an early age. Anyway, if we look around us, wherever there is awareness on a matter, like HIV, potential risks and cases of HIV are reduced.
Potential implications of the current sec education course
The family unit is the core for a child’s sexual education, which is why we all need to understand that our children grow up and will engage in sexual relationships at some point in their life. Refusing to embrace the natural human development would only makes us all apart with our children and make them susceptible to peer pressure and negative or even harmful influences that will drive them towards having premature sexual contact(s). Being loving and understanding to our children’s needs will only do good, to us, them, and consequently to the society. Try to keep and open communication with your child so that you know what is troubling them, even in sex-related matters. It will help them understand the implications of an unhealthy sexual relationship, among many others. Sexual topics, either within a household or a classroom should stop being considered as taboos. On the contrary, we need to create awareness, which is the best means to help our children stay away from as many sex-related risks as possible.
Undeniably, leaving children uneducated in sex matters increases the risk of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease, not to mention traumatic sexual experience(s) that could stigmatize their future. Evidence has shown that the current educational methods used in U.S schools, abstinence-focused and contraceptive-related, are effective in different proportions and create a gap that needs to be filled. Our new curriculum tries to become the bridge to both fill that gap and educate students and parents alike about all sex-related matters and bring awareness. In order to achieve the best of outcomes, though, it is essential that education starts from the core societal unit: the family itself. Not only educators, but parents too, are called to be open minded and communicative and accept that human sexuality of a natural of human behavior that is best to be experienced in ages when the child is mature to make healthy decisions.
- Opening: What age group needs to be addressed to and why.
Statistics, research and facts show that people aged 17-20 run a higher risk of being involved in unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease, which is why we need to address younger ages to prevent children from reaching their puberty and engage in unhealthy sexual relationships.
- Current Curriculum used in U.S schools
Abstinence School teaches it is immoral to have pre-marital sexual relationships and has contributed in one third of the decline in teen birth rates and sexually transmitted disease.
Contraception School focuses on educating students about contraception and is held responsible for the two thirds of the decline rates in regards unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease.
They are effective, in different proportions; yet, there is still ground for improvement.
- How can we integrate the current sex education courses?
Statistics have shown that both children and parents request for more sex-related information and broader topics, including how to deal with peer pressure, among others.
- Possible implications of the newly proposed sex education course
Educators might be reluctant to teach about contraception. Parents could experience a denial phase and not accept that their children will eventually engage in sexual relationships.
Parents and educators alike need to join forces and be open minded and communicative. Leave an open communication channel between then and the children, as a means to help prevent any risks deriving from unhealthy sexual relationships, coming from children left in their curiosity. Create awareness and allow children know all about sex-related matters, so they can be able to make mature choices when asked.
Alan Guttmacher Institute (2002), In Their Own Right: Addressing the Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of American Men. Retrieved Sep. 22, 2013 from: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/us_men.pdf
Alan Guttmacher Institute (2001), Teenage sexual and Reproductive Behavior in Developed Countries: Can More Progress Be Made?. Occasional Report No. 3. Retrieved Sep. 22, 2013 from: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/eurosynth_rpt.pdf
Hamilton, Brady & Ventura, Stephanie (2012), Birth Rates for U.S. Teenagers Reach Historic Lows for All Age and Ethnic Groups. NCHS Data Brief, No. 89, April 2012. Retrieved Sep. 24, 2013 from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db89.pdf
Kaiser Family Foundation (2000), SEX EDUCATION IN AMERICA: A View From Inside the Nation’s Classrooms. Retrieved Sep. 26, 2013 from: http://www.hawaii.edu/hivandaids/SexEducationinAmericaAViewfromInsidetheNationsClassroomsCharts.pdf
Kirby D. Emerging Answers: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2001
WHO (2012), Adolescent pregnancy: Fact sheet N°364. Retrieved Sep. 23, 2013 from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs364/en/