Sex Ed for Teens in America – At School and At Home
It may come as a surprise to many parents that sex education in public schools essentially began in 1892, when the National Education Association requested that “moral education” was needed in schools. It wasn’t until 1913 that the first sex ed class took place in Chicago, however. The 1920’s brought about films that warned of the dangers of masturbation and left much to the imagination as far as actual education on this topic. Today, schools offer sex education as part of their normal curriculum, although they do offer parents a chance to opt-out if they so desire.
The curriculum of sexual education within public schools will vary widely, as it is up to the school boards to determine what material may be left in or taken out. Generally, there is little fuss about the basic course materials that cover reproduction processes and sexually transmitted diseases. However, controversial issues like birth control and abortion are not always included in the materials. While some parents are still very uneasy about this topic, studies indicate that public school sexual education paves the way for parents and their children to talk about the issue at home, leading to greater communication and often, fewer risks for the kids.
While a great number of today’s teens choose to follow the rules of abstinence – or no sex until marriage, it is obviously not a choice for everyone, since the teen pregnancy rate in the United States is one of the highest in the entire world. According to the Guttmacher Institute, by age 19, seven out of ten females have had sexual intercourse. The typical teenage female will have intercourse for the first time by age 17. These are sobering statistics to consider, especially in this day and age of HIV and AIDS.
Basically, when you decide it’s time to talk about the “birds and the bees” with your kids, you need to know where you stand on the issue first. Whether you opt for abstinence or birth control, you need to be prepared to answer questions about your belief systems, as your teen will likely want more information. Also, do your very best to be relaxed and comfortable, as an uneasy parent is not exactly someone your teen will want to open up to.
Whether you know it or not, you as the parent are still the primary influence on your child, and it is up to you to help guide them into learning how to make good choices.