“Where do babies come from?” Those five words strike every nerve in a parent’s body. I know when I asked my mom that question when I was little, she scrambled around to piece together a story that didn’t necessarily have to do with sex, ending with – who else – the stork. That may be a quick fix for when a child is young, but eventually, they will grow to an age when curiosity peaks, and they need to be educated on sex.
There has been some controversy on whether or not sex education should be taught in schools. It is an unfortunate fact that children are becoming sexually active at younger ages, and it doesn’t help that TV shows are making sex and teen pregnancy more glamorous. To leave our kids uneducated about sexuality will leave them at risk for serious consequences that could potentially alter the rest of their lives, such as STDs and, of course, early pregnancy. The question remains – who should be teaching our kids about sex? Should the parents be responsible, since they were the ones that brought these children into the world? What about teachers? It’s their job, isn’t it? Should there be a line drawn down the middle, where everyone shares a bit of the responsibility? I asked around my alma mater, York College of Pennsylvania, to see how people felt.
During my questioning, I heard some pretty solid points on why sexual education should be taught in schools, such as the fact that not every child has parents that can give them the proper information they need on the subject. In most schools, there is a lot that goes under the title of sex education that isn’t only about the act of sex, such as the explanation of what goes on during puberty. I know when I was in grammar school, fifth grade to be exact, the guys and girls in our class were split up and taught different material over the course of the week; boys by a male teacher, and girls by a female teacher. This provided a controlled environment, where everyone could feel free to ask questions without fear of judgment from the opposite sex. However, thanks to my school being a private Catholic elementary school, my class was involved in the farce that has been causing the most controversy lately – abstinence-only education.
Now, I am not bashing private Catholic schools, or any schools for that matter, but point blank and simple, teaching children that “no sex is good sex,” using scare tactics to try to prevent kids from experimenting with their sexuality doesn't work. Kids are going to do what they are going to do, and to only focus on the negatives of sex education will leave them unequipped with the knowledge to make good choices. Of course, they do need to know that STDs exist out there, what is involved with these diseases, and how some can be fatal, but they also need to know how to protect themselves should they decide to take a relationship further. They do need to know about the horrors that pregnancy can bring, how it can change the rest of your life, but they also need to know the pleasures of being a parent, how it can change your life for the good, and if they aren't ready for parenthood, how to prevent pregnancy by contraceptives.
Bottom line, I personally believe that it is necessary for both parents and schools to have a hand in teaching children about sex. There are some things that a parent should be solely responsible for, and as mentioned before, parents may not have all the answers for a child’s questions, which is where an educator becomes beneficial. We cannot prevent children from acting upon urges, especially since we can’t all say we were innocent when we were young. The best thing we can do for our kids is to make sure that they are given the knowledge and materials they need to make safe choices. To continue to try to fight this will only lead them to suffer the consequences.