There is general agreement among members of the society that education is of great importance to the youth. However, some disagreements arise concerning which subjects should be taught in school. One subject that faces significant controversy is the inclusion of sex education in the curriculum of middle grade students. While parents and educators agree that education on sexuality is important, there is disagreement over who should provide this education and at what age the children should be introduced to sex education.
Advocates of including sex education in the middle school curriculum argue that it will provide children with the appropriate information about their sexuality and help them to make positive choices in their sexual lives. On the other hand, opponents declare that exposing children to sexual information will cause them to become sexually active at an early age. This paper argues that schools should provide sex education to middle school students since it equips them with factual knowledge that helps to promote their sexual health.
Arguments Supporting Sex Education
Providing sex education to middle school students will ensure that they have the information needed to enhance their sexual health. The youth today are engaging in sex at increasingly younger ages. Of great concern is that these children lack information about safe sex. Without the necessary sex education, the children are at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases or becoming pregnant. Gilbert reveals that many children wrongly assume that they are not at risk of contracting deadly STIs (47).
This assumption comes from their ignorance about sexual matters. Providing the children with sex education will ensure that they are empowered to make responsible decisions on sexual issues. Through sex education classes, students are educated on important skills such as condom use leading to higher instances of safe sex. Research indicates that sex education is related to decreases in STIs and teen pregnancies among the youth (Juping 188). These outcomes are desirable since STIs increase the health burden on the individual and the society. Teenage pregnancies can have a detrimental effect on the future of the child as she might be forced to drop out of school in order to take care of the unplanned for baby. Sex education promotes sexual responsibility leading to positive outcomes in the lives of the children.
Sex education provides children with information that will be needed to tackle sexual issues facing them. Children today are reaching puberty at earlier ages than their parents did. Puberty is accompanied by physical changes and a development of sexual interest by the individual. This interest often leads to sexual experimentation by the children who are unaware of the impacts of their actions (Sabia 790). Providing the children with sex education will ensure that they are not anxious about the various changes that they are going through during puberty. In addition to this, sex education ensures that the children are aware of the consequences of sexual activity.
Proponents of sex education declare that it enables children to receive factual information on sexuality in a safe environment. By the time children are getting to their teenage years, they have many questions regarding sex. However, most of them do not have the answers and this creates a knowledge gap. To fill this gap, the children look for sexual information from any source available to them. Sex education provided in school enables the children to get this information and even discuss sexual matters openly in the class environment.
The teachers are able to direct the conversation and ensure that sexual misinformation or myths are dispelled. Without sex education in school, children will get their sexual information from the media and their peers (Gilbert 50). Some children will also turn to the internet to satisfy their curiosity. The information obtained from these sources is often distorted, causing children to develop wrong ideas about sex and sexuality. Learning about sex in the classroom ensures that children receive the correct information and from credible sources.
Another merit of providing sex education in school is that educators are less likely to try and impose their personal values on the children. When this education is provided in school, children are encouraged to develop their own values and make their own choices on sexual matters. This increases the likelihood that the sex education will have a positive impact on the lives of the children. Limmer confirms that when parents are providing sexual information to their children, they are likely to try and manipulate the children to act according to their own value framework (350). This might have a detrimental effect since children look for sex information that is not prescriptive or judgmental. Teachers will provide this unbiased information since their primary goal is to equip the children with the knowledge and skills needed to enhance their sexual health.
Arguments against Sex Education
A major argument against sex education is that it leads to the acquisition of sexual interest in children who were previously unaware or uninterested in sex. Opponents of sex education argue that providing children with detailed sexual education sparks interest in the subject matter. This might result in children engaging in sexual activity. This argument is supported by Vuttanont who notes that when sex education is provided in school, it increases curiosity about sex (2074).
Children who before the class had no interest in sex might become interested due to this exposure. While it is true that sex education might introduce the subject to youngsters who were previously ignorant and uninterested in the topic, this does not necessarily lead to the desire to experiment. Research by Sabia reveals that the decision by teenagers to indulge in sex is not influenced by their exposure to sexual information in school (784). The proposition that sex education will promote sexual interest and activity among student is therefore wrong.
Another argument made against providing sex education in school is that it gives parents a reason not to offer sexual guidance to their children. The family setting is an important source of guidance to children on many important issues. Juping asserts that parents should play a role in shaping the sexual values adopted by their children (194). When the task of providing sex education is left to the schools, parents are excused from playing this important role in the lives of their children.
While parents should ideally be the individuals responsible for educating their children on sexual matters, the truth is that most parents are not comfortable discussing sexual content with their children. Limmer documents that some parents find detailed conversations on sex too embarrassing to hold (351). They are therefore unable to provide complete information to the children. The school setting is the best place for the children to get this information for teachers are knowledgeable on the subject and they are not embarrassed to talk about sexual matters in detail.
Opponents of sex education also assert that it provides children with too much information on sex leading to a loss of innocence. The sex education classes provide information on many subjects including safe sex practices and same sex relationships. The material is provided in a non-judgmental and non-prescriptive manner. This means that the children are given information without necessarily being advised on how to use it.
Opponents of sex education argue that this can lead to adverse impacts since the children are exposed to excess knowledge. While it is true that sex education classes cover many subjects, the teachers take care to provide guidance to the children on these sexual matters (Juping 194). Without sex education, the children might come across this information on the interest or through the media. Such avenues distort the material and provide no guidance, which promotes poor decisions on sexual matters among the youth.
This paper set out to argue that teachers should provide sex education to middle school children. The paper has highlighted some of the major advantages of providing this education to the children. It has shown that the education will provide them with factual information and promote responsible sexual behavior in future. Such education also helps to fill the knowledge gap that children have on sexual matters. Of children are not provided with sex education in school, they will get biased and incomplete information on sex from the media, internet and their peers. Such information might cause them to make poor choices on sexual matters. To ensure that children obtain the greatest benefit from education, all progressive citizens should advocate for the inclusion of sex education in the middle school curriculum.
Gilbert, Jen. “Risking a relation: sex education and adolescent development.” Sex Education 7.1 (2007): 47-61. Web.
Juping, Yu. “Sex education beyond school: implications for practice and research.” Sex Education 10.2 (2010): 187–199. Web.
Limmer, Mark. “Young men, masculinities and sex education.” Sex Education 10.4 (2010): 349–358. Web.
Sabia, Joseph. “Does Sex Education Affect Adolescent Sexual Behaviors and Health?” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 25.4 (2006): 783–802. Web.
Vuttanont, Uraiwan. “’Smart boys’ and ‘sweet girls’—sex education needs in Thai teenagers: a mixed-method study.” Lancet 368.1 (2006): 2068-80. Web.