By Sonia Schmidt
It’s really funny how when we’re growing up we’re taught that even saying the word sex is taboo. Triple-X, profanity, gasps all around, how dare we talk about the way humans procreate. How dare we discuss something that nearly everyone will experience at some point in their lives. Movies are rated R for having sex scenes, but PG-13 for graphic violence. If we are worried about our children being more likely to partake in activities they see in films or on TV, why are we letting them play XBox games feature shooting people as a hobby? If we are arguing for censorship, why are we so hypocritical? I think that violence is never positive, and sex is more often positive than not, so it’s just fascinating that parents are more likely to let their kids watch movies that have violence, rather than sex.
While I don’t personally understand depriving young children from information, I could see why some parents hesitate to tell the little ones the details. I mean it’s pretty graphic for everyone. But children are always discouraged from asking questions, and in place are told stories about giant storks flying through the clouds and delivering babies on doorsteps. Huh. But one would think that as kids get older and start hearing things at school, their parents would take a more forthright approach. But in many cases, kids are taught the parent’s beliefs and morals when it comes to sex, rather than factual information about health-related topics such as STD’s or birth control. Only 24 states and the District of Columbia require sex-ed in schools. Only 20 of those states require that the sex-ed be medically/factually accurate. And to this I wonder, what in the world are these people teaching in class if it’s not medically accurate? Has the stork returned to haunt us into teenagehood? It’s like not teaching biology in biology classes… oh wait that happens too.
As a result of the lack of information, many teens (more than half of teens aged 12-19 according to these polls) are turning to the internet for information. This results in a series of problems, as many internet sites don’t provide accurate information. At times this freedom to explore online information can be good, as teens feel they can’t be judged for what they don’t know when they are looking behind a screen. In other cases, it’s maybe not so helpful...For example, the Tumblr community might not be the best source of credible information and that is where many teens turn to for knowledge. Furthermore, some resort to pornography sites, which ultimately expose teens to an unrealistic portrayal of sex, which can lead to relationship troubles later on in life. Given that by the age of 18, over 60% of both men and women will have had sex, I think it’s time for us all to agree that we need to at least talk to them about it.
Over the years, the government has spent over one billion dollars supporting abstinence only education. I have again, a few questions to ask about this. For one, what are they even doing with this money? How many different ways can you possibly say, “don’t have sex?” What is there to spend on? To put this in perspective, this is around four times the amount of money spent on museums and libraries in 2013, you know, actual institutions of education. This video pretty much sums up why I think abstinence-only sex-ed is not only terrifying inaccurate, but also sexist. Sigh.
Additionally, the arguments against comprehensive sex-ed tend to be more emotionally based rather than factually based. For example, the idea that sex-ed encourages sex premature or premarital sexually activity has been disproven. In fact, comprehensive sex-ed has been proven, by multiple studies, to delay sex, encourage the use of contraceptives, and lower one’s number of partners. Also, some state that students who say they will not participate in premarital sex due to their religious affiliations or personal values should not have to take sex-ed in schools. I know everyone feels set in their ways right now, but as proven in a Columbia University study, 88% of people who took abstinence pledges had sex before marriage and were much less likely to use contraception or get tested when they did. Ah, cruel irony. But truly, one's opinions and values, especially those of an adolescent, may change, so wouldn’t it be better to be educated, maybe not for your own sake, but for the sake of someone else you may know? John Oliver said it better than I ever could, watch his segment on why he thinks sex-ed is important here.
Finally, for some reason we trudge through high school focused on Calculus and Chemistry just in case we one day wish to be engineers, but for some reason, sex, something so natural that we will all most likely experience in some capacity at one point or another, is shoved to the side. While it is always important to respect other’s morals and beliefs, don’t you think it’s time to destroy the taboo of sex and focus on factual education?