Should Schools Teach Comprehensive Sex Education?
The Love of my Life is a short story written by T. C. Boyle follows a young high school couple with a bright future ahead of them. Over the summer before their freshman year as college students, they mistakenly conceive a child during a camping trip. The girl decides to keep the child but refuses to seek any medical attention and hides the pregnancy up to the night she goes into labor. After giving birth, she tells her lover “to get rid of it”, all and all committing infanticide. Had these teenagers been given the opportunity to learn about the risks that are associated with having sex, they may have never put themselves in this sort of situation. Comprehensive sex education emphasizes abstinence as the best option for teenagers, but also provides age-appropriate, medically accurate discussion and information for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies. In the article, written by Dr. Margaret Blythe, it states that “Abstinence-only programs have not been shown to change adolescent sexual behaviors.” In fact, abstinence-only programs are not only ineffective but could potentially cause harm by providing inaccurate information. Children and adolescents need accurate and comprehensive education about sexuality in order to safely practice healthy sexual behaviors as an adult, and also to avoid early/risky sexual activity that may lead to health and social problems. Such as unintended pregnancy or STIs.
A national study compared sexual health risks of adolescents who received abstinence only education and those who received comprehensive sex education to those who received none. Adolescents that reported having comprehensive sex education before initiating sexual intercourse were significantly less likely to report a teen pregnancy compared to those receiving no sexual education while there was no effect of abstinence-only education. The greatest fears adults have about teaching students about contraception at a young age is the fear of the teenagers starting at an earlier age, greater number of partners, or an increased rate of sexual activity. Providing information does not result in these things, in fact if adolescents perceive obstacles to obtaining contraception, they are more likely to experience negative outcomes related to sexual activity.
Evaluations of comprehensive sex education programs show that these programs can help youth delay onset of sexual activity, reduce the frequency of sexual activity, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase contraceptive use. More importantly, the evidence shows that adolescents that receive comprehensive sex education are not more likely to become active, increase sexual activity, or experience negative sexual health outcomes. Throughout The Love of my Life, China refuses to seek medical attention and simply refuses other alternatives. Leading one to believe that China may have chosen a different path had she been given the opportunity to learn about safe sex, and the risks that are associated with un-safe sex. In the scene, where the conception takes place, China states “—but she had forgotten to pack her pills and he had only two condoms with him, and it wasn’t as if there were a drugstore around the corner.” China says that they were always careful, until being faced with the choice of having unprotected sex or spending five days without it. Unable to stop their urges, they face the biggest consequence, as China’s belly begins to grow and they slowly run out of options. Had these young lovebirds been given the opportunity to learn about sex and what to do when facing an unintended pregnancy, they may have actually saved their child instead of feeling like the only option was to get rid of it.