Leaving sex education up to the parents is a suggested alternative to having it taught in schools. But, let's face it, many of the parents don't know very much about the subject themselves--except they have found out that having sex leads to having a baby. They know that much for sure. But how many parents could explain how the spermatazoon penetrates the ovum and forms a zygote in the uterus, or all the other biological facts connected with this complex subject? One parent in a hundred?
Sex education should obviously be taught in school at the level where it is appropriate, which would seem to be middle school. However, sex education, if it is ever offered, should not include information on contraception because this would outrage many parents and jeopardize the whole idea of sex education. There are of course a great number of parents who believe in total abstinence before marriage, and they would tend to regard teaching about contraception as the school's advocacy of premarital sexual intercourse. This seems to be the reason that it is so difficult for schools to offer sex education classes, although most of the kids no doubt would find it most interesting. To many parents the term "sex education" seems to mean something like "safe sex education." It is a question that is very hot to handle. But sex education in schools is such an important matter that it will probably become commonplace at some time in the future. Maybe that time will come when the kids who are now in school become parents themselves.
Something else to consider is the decreasing number of nuclear families. With the increasing number of split families, who is the one to do the sex education of the children. In addition, the people fulfilling parental roles in many families are forced by the economy to work two or more jobs just to make ends meet. In this type of situation sex education might be one of the parental issues that falls through the cracks.
I am 100% realist and pragmatist on this subject. A high percentage of teens are sexually active before they graduate high school. It's a simple fact. They are not unaware of sexual desire, and their bodies are full of hormones at young ages. So we don't have to teach them the biology and responsibilities of sex, but many of them will have sex anyway. I think denying them knowledge by the time they reach junior high and high school is very foolish. Countries like Sweden and France with extensive sex education at much younger ages have very low teen pregnancy rates to prove it, much lower than ours.
To me, the following are some of the major reasons why sex education in schools is a good thing:
- Many parents are going to be too shy to talk to their teens in the ways that are needed. In addition, many of the teens will not want to talk to their parents. Really good sex education has to go beyond the kind of biological "how babies are made" talks that parents tend to have with their kids. It has to involve discussions of issues (various kinds of sex, contraceptives, etc) that parents and teens might not want to talk to each other about.
- At the same time, it is extremely important. Teens are going to be bombarded with the issue of sex from at least the point that they reach puberty. It is going to be on their minds and they will have many questions. If these questions are not answered well, the teens may lack important information.
eNotes has a large number of essays on this issue.
It is important because it teaches kids what they should do to prevent anything bad from happening.