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Samantha Reilly

Mr. Groothuis

Candidate #9095

Should Sex Education Be Mandatory in School Curriculums?

There are almost 750,000 teen pregnancies every year in America (dosomething.org). In

addition, approximately 20 million Americans contract a sexually transmitted disease, or STD,

every year, with about half of those being people within the ages of 15 through 24

(dosomething.org). These statistics are alarming, as one might think that kids should be taught

how to protect themselves during intercourse from an early age. However, many schools don’t

teach students sex education, leaving many to figure it out on their own, or with the misguided

help of their friends who are often immature and uneducated as well. This can cause unwanted

pregnancies and the contraction of STDs in many who are unknowing about the risks. This begs

the question: “Should sex education be mandatory in school curriculums?”

At the moment, sex ed isn’t mandatory, as it is not a federal law (ncsl.org). This leaves it

widely up to state and county governments, as well as individual school boards, to decide

whether or not sex education should be taught. According to a statement on the website ncsl.org,

“Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia require public schools teach sex education, 27

of which mandate sex education and HIV education.”. That still leaves more than half of the

country’s states without sex ed. For some, it is a result of budget restrictions, and others it is

simply a moral confliction. To give an example, in the state of California, it is required that

students from 7th to 12th grade have comprehensive sex ed that is medically accurate and age

appropriate. These requirements have enabled the state to have a low 13.6 birth rate (CDC.gov).
Opposing this, the state of Louisiana does not require sex ed, and has a high teen birth rate of

more than double California's, a 27.5 (CDC.gov).

There are an abundance of positives in regards to implementing mandatory sex education

curriculums. The most obvious would be the fact that it helps to teach children the basics about

their bodies and what is happening with them, as well as what happens during intercourse. This

helps to prepare them for their later life. It exposes the risks in which sexual intercourse imposes

and educates students on how to prevent them.

The United States leads the world in the highest STD rates, according to

worldpopulationreview.com, and in order to have a decrease in that number, most believe it

necessary to begin educating from younger ages, in a professional setting in which stigmas and

rumours, which often occur when teens rely upon their friends to educate them, are eliminated.

There are a lot of preconceived notions about sexual intercourse that are proven to be indeed

untrue, but these falsities spread like wildfire in the teen world and can often lead to big

problems, an increase in STDs especially. This can be potentially deadly for those who do not

understand the risks initially.

Additionally, sex ed doesn’t only discuss what happens physically to your body, but also

what happens mentally, as it additionally helps to promote healthy relationships among

adolescents. Many teenagers going into relationships during their adolescent years aren’t exactly

sure of how they should be treated by their partner, or how they should treat their significant

other in that matter. It’s important to imprint on teens at an early age what a healthy relationship

looks like, and to notice signs of an abusive one. According to teendvmonth.org, “...girls

between 16 and 24 are three times as likely than any other demographic to be abused by a
boyfriend or other intimate partner.” (teendvmonth.org). The website also mentions that

teenagers are still developing essential emotional and mental maturities, and, in my opinion, if

they are given educational seminars about what a healthy teenage relationship looks like, as well

as the signs of a toxic one from an early age, then they will be more informed within their own

relationships, and be able to take them into their own hands responsibly (teendvmonth.org).

On the opposing side, there are an array of negatives on the subject of mandatory sex

education. There are an abundance of people who are against it. Despite the fact that sex ed

doesn’t encourage students to have sex, they have the belief that if we don't teach them about it

at all, they won’t go out and try it and that when children are taught to protect themselves, the

students believe it is now okay to try these things, as long as they are protected. The people on

this side of the argument encourage the “abstinence only” mindset, and cease from teaching

teens basic protectionary measures. This train of thought encourages students to stay away from

sex altogether, and instead are pushed to consider waiting until marriage.

Another argument in opposition would be that most public schools do not strictly

mandate which approach is to be taken when teaching students this sort of curriculum. This

leaves it up to the interpretation of the instructor, who could be a well-learned teacher which

would greatly benefit students, or a poor teacher that could leave students confused and

unwilling to ask further questions. This could ultimately lead the student to potentially be hurt in

the long run. Additionally, many teachers find it awkward to teach this sort of course to pre-teens

or teens, as many may act immaturely or may be just as uncomfortable as the instructor. This

could result in educators rushing through the course and leaving out critical details that are

exceptionally important regarding the safety of teens in this aspect of life. Furthering this
argument, many adults believe that parents themselves are the best instructors for sex ed, and

putting the education of such a delicate and personal matter into the school’s hands can get

messy, as most of the time the parent does not have any clue as to what their children are being

taught (catholicparents.org). If parents themselves solely take on the responsibility of educating

their children, they can also input their own morals and belief system, as well as censor any

aspects they may deem ‘too mature’ for their child’s age (catholicparents.org). This way, it can

also allow for more personal lessons that tend to each individual child’s needs

(catholicparents.org).

In my opinion, I believe sex education should be implemented within school systems. I

believe that, regardless of the amount of times adults may try and convince teenagers that

abstinence is the most ideal form of protection, the peer pressure within today's younger society

is very intense, and kids may be influenced to do things in order to feel more inclusive with their

peers. Also, teens don't always listen to their parents, and have their own opinions on certain

matters. So while their parents may tell them one thing, they might do something completely

different without their parent's knowledge, which could include being sexually active.

Additionally, sex education does not exist for the purpose of convincing students to be sexually

active, it meerly prepares them if such event occurs to ensure the safety of them and their

partner. This basic knowledge can help prevent the risk of teen pregnancies, as well as

significantly lower the threat of spreading and/or contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.

Shifting to a global standpoint, there a a number of countries who have yet to instill sex

education as a mandatory curriculum as well, while others have a very developed and effective

sex ed program. The ideas of this debate vary from country to country, as religion and cultural
backgrounds play a major role on this topic. For example, the Netherlands and Norway have

some of the lowest teen pregnancy rates throughout the globe, as they show instructional videos

with information that changes depending upon the child's age. This ensures that a child isn't

being taught something too mature for them, but also prepares them and teaches them from early

on, which can give them an advantage in their later life (fatherly.com). Cuba also has imposed

mandatory sex ed curriculums from the ages of preschool years through college years; Cuba has

some of the lowest teen pregnancy and STD rates around the globe as well (fatherly.com). On

the other hand, countries, such as El Salvador, that do not have a well established and formal sex

ed program, suffer some of the highest teen pregnancy and STD rates globally (fatherly.com).

Additionally, South Africa takes an entirely different approach, asserting that sex and all things

associated come with huge risks (fatherly.com). This might also be directly involved with the

fact that South Africa is currently leading the world with the highest HIV rates. The biggest risk

in the global viewpoint is the fact that, if countries continue to approach and address the issue

with the mindset that sex ed is bad, then STD rates can continue to rise and would pave the way

for an epidemic larger than the one in which we are currently in. If there are generations in which

they are not predisposed to these risks, we could endure an abundance of major health crises in

future years.

Altogether, the sexual health education of the world's children and teens is still a highly

debated topic. While many see the benefits of lowering the risks involved, such as STD's and

pregnancies, others argue that it is not the school's nor the instructor's place to decide the sexual

education of their children, as it is strictly a personal matter between parents and their offspring.

Taking precautions in these types of matters is very important to ensure the health and safety of a
person and their counterpart. Regardless of how the child is taught, the main importance is that

they know how to be safe in these situations, and to learn how to approach the circumstance

should it occur, in not only a physical way, but a mental one as well. While this was a very

in-depth research about this sort of issue, the statistics and numbers are constantly fluctuating, as

laws regarding the matter change frequently. This means the statistics will never be fully

accurate, not to mention the false negatives or false positives that could be present in survey

results. Arguments from both sides are still being developed as well, and both viewpoints have

their justifications, but it really comes down to a matter of the students' safety and well being in a

newfound portion of their lives that they are still learning their way around.
Works Cited

● DoSomething. “11 Facts About Teen Pregnancy.” DoSomething.org,

www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-teen-pregnancy.1

● World Population Review. “Std Rates By Country 2020.” Std Rates By Country

2020, 2020, worldpopulationreview.com/countries/std-rates-by-country/.

● Teendvmonth. “What Is Teen Dating Violence?” Teen Dating Violence

Awareness, 10 Sept. 2017, ​www.teendvmonth.org/what-is-teen-dating-violence/​.

● Bradford, Kate, and Tahra Johnson. “State Policies on Sex Education in Schools.”

State Policies on Sex Education in Schools, 1 Apr. 2020,

www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-policies-on-sex-education-in-schools.aspx​.

● Catholic Parents Online. “TEN GOOD REASONS TO OPPOSE PUBLIC

SCHOOL SEX EDUCATION.” Catholic Parents OnLine, 22 May 2016,

www.catholicparents.org/ten-good-reasons-oppose-public-school-sex-education/​.

Moskowitz, John. “How Sex Education In The U.S. Stacks Up Against Everyone

From Sweden To Cuba.” Google, Google, 2 Nov. 2016, 12:46,

www.google.com/amp/s/www.fatherly.com/health-science/international-sex-educ

ation/amp/​.

● CDC. “Stats of the State - Teen Birth Rates.” Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 Apr. 2020,

www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/teen-births/teenbirths.htm​.