Tuesday, December 13, 2011

20 New Trends in Sex Education

Sex education isn’t necessarily something people like to talk about, but it’s certainly necessary. Without sex education (and often, even with), teens can get into trouble with pregnancy, abortion, STDs, and even AIDS, all of which can have a negative impact on their lives and future happiness. Awareness and education are important, but they’re not always the same. Sex education has changed considerably in recent years, with abstinence-only education, sex education for younger children, and more, so it’s worth taking a look at some new developments in the field. Read on, and we’ll discuss 20 new trends that are going on in sex education right now.

  1. Mandating medically accurate sex education

    It seems like a no-brainer, but many states have recently enacted bills that would require medical accuracy in school sex education. We have to wonder what’s been put out that’s not accurate, but at least these states are working to get it right now. Typically, the educational programs are required to be in accordance with "accepted scientific methods and recognized as accurate and objective by professional organizations and agencies with expertise in the relevant field, such as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists."

  2. Teens aren’t learning about contraception before they have sex

    Sexual activity is common by the late teen years with 7 in 10 teens engaging in intercourse by their 19th birthday. But many students who have engaged in sex report that they didn’t learn about contraceptive use before getting started. In a Guttmacher Institute fact sheet on American teens’ sources of information about sex, 46% of males and 36% of females reported that they didn’t receive formal instructions about contraception before having sex for the first time.

  3. Kids are learning about sex from outside of school

    This is obvious to most, but the majority of sex education actually takes place outside of school. Kids learn about sex from porn, TV, and pop culture these days. Stars like singer Solange Knowles lend their time and image to campaigns that promote safe sex, and even death metal bands get in on the action.

  4. Sex education for younger children

    Sex education can start as young as third grade, although that education doesn’t necessarily involve explicit sex explanations. For third graders in China, sex education starts in the form of a toilet tour, in which children get the opportunity to peek into the other gender’s bathroom to better understand the differences in their bodies and behaviors. Students also view presentations about sperm fertilizing eggs.

  5. Many sex ed programs are abstinence-only

    According to the CDC, about 1/3 of sex education omits the use of birth control, engaging in the controversial abstinence-only sex education that has been both lauded and criticized. However, about 2/3 of teens got instruction in birth control before graduating from high school: about 62% of boys and 70% of girls. Research suggests that comprehensive sex education that includes both abstinence and birth control began to decline from 1995 to 2002 and has not changed much since then.

  6. Federal funding mandates prohibit educating students about contraception

    Since 1997, the federal government has invested more than $1.5 billion into abstinence-only programs, which require schools to avoid teaching about birth control in order to receive federal funding for sex education. These programs must adhere to a strict eight-point definition of education, with the "exclusive purpose of teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity." Critics point out that the eight-point definition is not created by "evidence-based, public health and social science research," but rather, a values agenda put in place by Congress.

  7. Elementary schools are passing out condoms

    Schools passing out condoms to students is not a new idea, but some schools are taking things a step further and making them available to virtually all ages. In Provincetown, Massachusetts, one school will allow students as young as first grade to get free condoms, as long as they listen to a talk about sex education beforehand. The program is a move to decrease teen pregnancy. While the superintendent recognizes that first graders and other young elementary school children probably don’t know what condoms are and won’t ask for them, parents are worried that just by having them available, students are going to get the message that it’s acceptable to have sex at such a young age.

  8. Almost all sex-ed programs teach about AIDS and STDs

    Almost all students will learn about AIDS and STDs, a move that is smart for stopping the spread of disease. About 97% of teens report receiving formal sex education by the age of 18, and about 92% of boys and girls report being taught about STDs, including preventing infection with the AIDS virus. This may cut down on the spread of AIDS and STDs now and in the future among young people who are sexually active.

  9. Teen males will use more condoms if they learn about them

    Although federal funding mandates abstinence-only education, research has shown that formal sex education, regardless of whether it includes information about birth control or not, leads to greater condom use among teen males. So even though teen males may not be educated about condoms, being informed about sexuality seems to increase responsibility. According to Condom Use and Consistency Among Male Adolescents in the United States, "the critical factor for male condom use and consistency is the presence of any formal instruction."

  10. Schools are testing students on health and sex education

    Washington DC public schools annually test student progress in reading and math, and now, they are testing what students know about sexuality, contraception, and drug use as well. This is a bold move in a city with some of the country’s highest rates of sexual transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies. Officials share that the test will fill gaps in what they understand about young people’s awareness and why they behave a certain way. According to Brian Pick, deputy chief of curriculum and instruction for DC Public Schools, "it paints a fuller picture." Adam Tenner, executive director of MetroTeenAIDS, believes the new test is positive, pointing out that "what gets measured gets done."

  1. States who denied abstinence-only funding typically have teen pregnancy rates under the national average

    There is a correlation between abstinence-only education and high teen pregnancy rates. In 2005, states who did not receive federal funding for teaching abstinence-only education typically had teen pregnancy rates that were under the national average. Abortion rates also tended to be lower in those states, indicating that students with comprehensive sex education may have more favorable outcomes.

  2. Masturbation isn’t really discussed

    Although abstinence is discussed as an option in virtually every sex education program, whether birth control is mentioned or not, masturbation is hit or miss. Some teachers believe that discussing personal or mutual masturbation can be beneficial to students who want to explore sexuality without the risk of STDs and pregnancy, but others believe that teaching students about masturbation, and mutual masturbation in particular, may just be a prelude to intercourse.

  3. Sex education curriculum often has distorted information

    Parents and students trust sex education programs to teach accurate information, but according to Advocates for Youth, sex education curriculum often includes distorted information. A 2004 study by the House Government Reform Committee took a look at commonly used curricula and found that they contained unproven claims, subjective conclusions, and outright falsehoods, including the "facts" that "half of gay male teenagers in the US have tested positive for HIV," "condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse," and "as many as 10 percent of women who have an abortion become sterile."

  4. Sex education programs with both abstinence and contraceptive education can create favorable outcomes

    Advocates for Youth points out that considerable scientific evidence supports the idea that sex education programs including both abstinence and contraception can help teens delay sexual activity, increase contraceptive use, and have fewer sexual partners when they start having sex. The group also believes that youth development programs that engage young people constructively in communities and schools are helpful. Specifically, Advocates for Youth identifies characteristics of effective curricula, including programs that last more than a few weeks, address peer pressure, and reflect the appropriate age, sexual experience, and culture of the students in the program.

  5. Virginity pledges

    Some teens and young adults have begun to commit to virginity pledges, often as part of church programs. Studies have found that these pledges can delay vaginal intercourse, however, pledgers often replace it with other sexual activities including oral sex and anal sex, both of which do not reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. Some studies indicate that virginity pledges may reduce the likelihood of contraceptive use once pledgers engage in sex. The first virginity pledge program was created in 1993, by the name of True Love Waits, started at the Southern Baptist Convention, with now more than 2.5 million pledgers.

  6. Teens are having less sex

    Although parents and concerned citizens worry that today’s teens are having more sex than ever, a CDC survey, Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing indicates that teens’ levels of sexual experience have decreased. The numbers of teens who have had sexual intercourse at least once have not changed significantly, and that number has been in overall decline over the last 20 years. As Examiner.com points out, that means today’s teens are less likely to be sexually experienced than their parents were as teens.

  7. Teens don’t learn about the connection between AIDS and anal sex

    Researchers at the Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center discovered that anal sex is on the rise among teens and young adults. They say that girls are often persuaded to try anal sex to have sex without risking pregnancy or their virginity, but don’t understand the health consequences. Even students who can recite how you get AIDS may not understand how exactly it translates to their behavior, thinking that they can’t get AIDS because they’re not having vaginal sex. In fact, anal sex can be more risky for HIV infection, as tissue may tear and cause direct blood exposure to infected fluids. Lead author Celia Lescano remarks, "There is no doubt that teens lack information about STDs and the safety of different behaviors and they they are engaging in more sexual experimentation."

  8. Some states leave sex-ed curriculum up to local school districts

    In some states, sexual education curriculum is variable among different school districts, with differences in what is taught and how it’s presented. In Connecticut, for example, the state leaves it all up to local school districts, allowing them to decide what is taught about sex education. The state does, however, offer guidelines on what it believes should be taught, and all public school districts do offer at least basic health education for high school students, and state law requires school districts to teach about HIV. Bonnie Edmondson, a health education consultant at the Connecticut Department of Education shares, "It is a local control issue. The communities have a feel for what is best."

  9. Teens want more input from parents

    Although most teens are at an age when they are pushing their parents away on a regular basis, the fact is that they would like more input from their parents when it comes to sex education. In Baker County, Florida, teens don’t believe they’re getting adequate sex education from parents or teachers, and they shared that parents need to find better ways to discuss sex with their kids. Some teens pointed out that sex education is first and foremost the parents’ responsibility, and they need to find ways to make the topic less awkward to bring up. They also note that teens learn more about sex from their peers than their parents, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

  10. The elderly are getting sex education as well

    Schoolkids aren’t the only ones learning about sex these days. The elderly are finding value in sex education as well. In Malaysia, one state is providing sex education for the elderly to stop rising divorce rates. Family development foundation head Mohamad Shafaruddin Mustafa notes, "Many elderly couples sleep in separate bedrooms and are not intimate. This is unhealthy as they can still have vibrant intimate relationships, especially with all kinds of therapy and health supplements now available." With sex education, elderly couples can better learn how to reconnect and enjoy their sexual relationship together.

Taken From Best Colleges Online

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