Sex education: inadequate, ineffective

May 22, 2008
By macy lister, Mcdonough, GA

Reader discretion is advised: the following content may prove to cause unease or, in extreme cases, heart failure to those who are oblivious to their surroundings.
At least one in four teenage girls nationwide has a sexually transmitted disease, or more than 3 million teens, according to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Eight-hundred and ninety-six girls currently attend UGHS. That means, according to the statistic, roughly 224 girls have an STD. If this isn’t enough for you, the number is significantly higher in African American girls; one out of two African American girls has an STD, according to the same statistic.

As I mulled over the story in the AJC, I couldn’t think anything other than “how can so many girls be so stupid?”. Then I continued to ponder and realized that it’s not quite their fault for not being aware. The STD epidemic is a direct result of the education these girls received during their blossoming stages.

Living in such a conservative environment has yielded negative effects; teaching abstinence rather than protection has resulted in ill-educated sexually active teens.

"For the most part kids learn about sexually transmitted diseases when they are being diagnosed with them," said Julie Downs, lead author of another study and a member of the Department of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon.

I can’t be the only one appalled by this fact. We’ve all had high school sex-ed by now and if you haven’t don’t feel like you're missing out on anything (because you’re not; it’s simply a week of a few horrific tales about people living with aids, gonorrhea and of course a girl who is prematurely impregnated all in hopes of deterring you from doing something you may already do). We all know that nothing that was said was actually going to stop someone that was already engaging in promiscuity from continuing along that path.

What we should have had, rather than someone’s morals thrown at us in the form of soap-opera-worthy “educational” videos filmed in the mid 80s to early 90s, was practical information about the “safe” ways to have sex.

While I did learn shocking facts and statistics related to the effectiveness of condoms and birth control, I seem to remember that the underlying theme of the entire course was that having sex is too risky and shouldn’t be done; never once did I learn of the different birth control methods and what sort of things must be considered to prevent serious health damage that can result from using contraceptives.

I recall the “fact” that 17 percent of the time, when used properly, condoms fail and that even more often than that, condoms are not used properly. Now, this gives me reason to believe that someone should be teaching us how to use condoms—in a tasteful manner of course—yet, we’re implicitly told not to have sex.

I feel as though we’re being done a disservice by only being taught of the dangers of having sex. Our sex-ed courses should be taught based on the assumption that we are all having sex (even though I am 100 percent positive that not all of us are) because the survey says a large majority of high school students, and even middle school students, are engaging in sexual practices.

Teaching sex-ed based on the assumption that teenagers are not having sex and that they will practice what is preached to them during their health class is naïve and dangerous—that could be why one in four girls has a sexually transmitted disease.

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