Students Speak Loud and Clear: Sex Education Courses Get an F
I’ve never been able to get past the lack of common sense that says if we encourage kids to have “safe sex” it will result in fewer pregnancies and STD’s. The thinking is so backward, in my opinion, that it’s hard to take seriously. And, as it turns out, it’s also a failed strategy.
In recent years it has been the popular government position that teaching graphic, detailed sex education classes was the way to make sure high-school students had safe sex. The assumption went something like this: “students are going to have sex anyway, let’s make sure they know what they are doing.”
I suppose next the government will launch a “students are going to drink alcohol anyway, let’s make sure they know how much will make them drunk” campaign.
Or maybe we will see a “students are going to do drugs anyway, let’s make sure they do the ‘right drugs’” campaign.
As ridiculous as these sound, it is equally ridiculous that the government thought their graphic sex education class was a good idea. And even more ridiculous that school want to partner with the government to take this failed idea to elementary and Kindergarten classrooms. Why does a 1st grader need to know about sex?
A recent article reports the following concerning the failed approach to sex education:
“After two terms of the last administration’s ‘if-it-feels-good-do-it’ approach, most experts agree [it] accomplished one thing: making the situation worse. ‘Compared with their peers,’ a 2016 study by the American Journal of Public Health found, ‘teenagers in the [government’s programs] were more likely to begin having sex… and more likely to get pregnant.’ And it’s no wonder. The curriculum was so extreme that 40 percent of young people actually said they felt more pressure to engage in sex from their sex ed classes than from their boyfriends or girlfriends!”
It appears the classes intended to “educate” students on “safe sex” felt more like a call to action; or rather a push. But, as this approach shows, the government and schools didn’t give students enough credit. Just as we tell students not to drink, and expect them to live up to that expectation, we should be telling students not to have sex and expecting them to live up to that expectation.
As it turns out, abstinence is the “program” students prefer. A Time article reports:
“This decline in sex among high school students is likely a contributing factor to key recent trends: teen birth rates hit a record low in 2017, and teen pregnancy has been consistently dropping. The study authors say that more research is needed to understand the trend and to help it continue.”
Wait! Is this article suggesting that telling kids to have sex, but do it safely isn’t actually as safe as abstinence? Is this article daring to indicate that if we want to see teen pregnancy rates drop we should encourage abstinence? We can’t suggest that. Don’t we know that kids need to have sex? They can’t help it. We need to show them everything there is to know about sex so they can be prepared to engage in sexual activity “responsibly.”
Or, stay with me here, we can tell them that the absolute best way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, is to not have sex. If you can think of a more fool-proof method to avoiding pregnancy and STD’s, I’m all ears. But…
And, despite a failed program that put pressure on students to have sex, the attitude of many students today leans toward abstinence:
-Most adolescents support reserving sex for marriage, both in general and for themselves.
• About one half of 18 and 19 year olds wish they had waited longer before becoming sexually active.
• More than 80% of older teens believe it is possible for a person to choose to stop having sex after having had sex in the past.
• Although culture is increasingly sexually explicit, the majority of teens are not having sex.
• More than 80% of 18 and 19 year olds say they don’t like the idea of casual sex.
• About 40% of teens say that their sex ed classes make them feel pressured to have sex. 32% say they feel pressure from their dating partner.
Maybe we should stop underestimating our students and start teaching them some truth: abstinence is the only way to avoid pregnancy. Maybe our expectations should be high; higher than their feelings and desires so they have something to reach for. Maybe we should tell Planned Parenthood and their underhanded attempts to get teens pregnant so they can do more abortions to get lost.
Maybe it’s time we teach students universal truths related to respect and sex. The kind of truth that helps prevent rape and abuse. The kind of truth that could transform Hollywood and help preclude another #metoo movement.