School Sex Education and Its Impact on Students
Sex education is the study of understanding the activity, responsibilities, and health of human sexuality. While learning about this topic there are factors that help enhance or diminish the perspective and knowledge of sex education within adolescence. Factors such as the age, school curriculums, and parent’s involvement of an adolescent contributes to the effects and impacts of sexual experiences that an adolescent may encounter. Somers and Eaves (2002) focus on the introduction of sex education and its impact based on age. The relationship between the timing of introduction and encounters with sexual experiences are examined and analyzed. Rabbitte and Enriquez (2018) focus on the policy of school curriculums and their correlation to adolescence. These researches study the importance of the quality of information being passed on from teacher to student. Breaz and Tomita (2017) researched sex education in schools and its general importance. They focused on the outcome of adolescence when received proper sex education in comparison to not. Kantor and Levitz (2017), and Telljohann and Dake (2015) consisted of research based on parental involvement and their perspectives on sex education in schools. Wayne, Masese, Avuvika, Baghazal, Omoni, and Mcclelland (2017) also focused on the matter. These researched conducted their studies separately but ultimately had the same conclusion.
Somers and Eaves (2002) conducted research into examining the relation between the offering of sex education in schools and its effect on students based on their age. Professional guidance of sex education increases the likelihood of strong sexual knowledge. These researchers suggested that sex education is introduced and continues to be introduced to adolescence as they develop. Within development and the continuance of sex education, a wide range of sex education is absorbed and learned. This study was conducted this by utilizing both female and male genders into the study. Participants consisted of a variety of 158 American adolescents being sixty-three boys and ninety-five girls through the ages 14-18 years old. In order to measure the study, the researchers used a questionnaire that would determine a measure of when the individual was taught sex education and a measure of involved sexual experiences. As a result, according to Somers and Eaves (2002) “earlier sex education does not contribute to earlier risk behaviors” (p.30). In fact, it was stated that learning about sex education while at a young age can hold a positive outcome of adolescent experiences if taught professionally. Somers and Eaves (2002) found that school sex education as a whole was not significantly correlated with the adolescent’s frequency of sexual behavior in general or age of first sexual intercourse (p.31).
In addition to the age of the adolescent being an influence to sex education, the school curriculum and topics discussed hold value too. Rabbitte and Enriquez (2018) conducted a research into analyzing the correlation between the quality of sex education and its effect on adolescence. In this study the researchers focused on two different programs offered by schools. Those programs were AOE, Abstinence Only Education and CSE, Comprehensive Sex Education in which the researches compared the effectiveness of each. The United States government has incorporated the AOE into schools more so than the CSE. Depending on the state in which the school is located regulates the type of education the students will receive. In order to direct the effectiveness of both types of education, the researchers examined the sexual health outcomes of teenagers. Studies concluded that there was an increase of birth rate in the states that enforced AOE than CSE. According to Rabbitte and Enriquez (2018 “AOE programs have been shown to be detrimental to teen sexual health outcomes while CSE programed have been shown to decrease birth rates and meet the educational needs of teens” (P.36).
Moreover, not only is the type of sex education an influence but having sex education in schools in general shows an importance. Breaz and Tomita (2017) focused on the outcome of having students involved in taking sex education in school. These researchers used a questionnaire to determine the amount of knowledge adolescence had based on sex education, what type of relation they held with their parents, as well as their personal emotions and thoughts on the matter. The study consisted of one class each year with the range of freshmen to seniors in a high school setting. As a result, according to Breaz and Tomita (2017) half of the teens involved in the study have not discussed or had a conversation about sex education. It has been stated that “most of the information that teens have about sexual education comes from parent’s friends, and the internet” (p.260). Due to this matter, a lot of teens do not get informed about majority of the topic due to the fact that those sharing the information are “based on personal experience” (p.260). This leads to misinformation that transfers from teen to teen leading in a negative outcome. Although schools offer sex education, it comes fourth in the ranking of adolescent information sources. The ranking leads are parents, friends, the internet, in which follows school settings. With that being said since adolescents rely on sources in which share their own experiences or more so share any bit of knowledge that they have and not the full breakdown of the topic, many adolescents can miss out on information needed. Schools provide necessary and authentic information that cover as much as possible and within any range.
Furthermore, parents are another factor that hold a significance in sexual education of adolescence. Their views, perceptions, and involvement of the child has a strong effect. As discussed earlier adolescence rely on parents when needed to discuss their knowledge on the topic. Kantor and Levitz (2017) conducted a study to view the support of sex education in schools. Regardless of political views, both democratic and republican parents participated in the study in which they completed a survey. About 1633 parents accepted the survey via e-mail containing a range from Caucasian, African American, and Latino participants. The survey consisted of questions regarding their emotions on their child learning about sex education in their schools. As a result, according to Kantor and Levitz (2017), “overall, parents, regardless of their race and political view, felt it was important for their child to learn about sex education and supported all topics being included” (p.5). According to the researchers and study “sex education, which includes a wide range of topics, is supported by the majority of parents” (p.7).
Compared to Kantor and Levitz (2017), Telljohann and Dake (2015) share a common study. These researchers studied parents who currently have children in the school system and examined their perceptions based of sex education in schools. Participants were selected at random with the age group of children from 5-12 years old. These participants were also measured by a mailed survey questionnaire. The survey questionnaire focused on demographic characteristics of both genders, ethnicity of Asian, African American, Hispanic, Caucasian, and other, their level of education, and more. As a result of Telljohann and Dake (2015) research “nine out of ten parents believed that sex education in schools should be taught” (p.16). These parents agreed with the topics being offered in schools regarding sexual education in all aspects. Parents believe that learning about sex education during a young age is helpful and has a high effectiveness that every child should encounter. Although they believe this is true, many feel as though deepening on the age group, it is crucial to handle the information with care.
In comparison to recently discussed researchers, Wanje, Masese, Avuvika, Omoni, and Mcclelland (2017) conducted a similar study. These researchers focused on the relationship between parents and their child on discussing sex education in order to determine how supportive parents are to sex education. It was determined that parents themselves are not fully aware of all topics on sexual education learning. In order to measure their study, these researchers offered free STI screenings for the parent’s child. Most of the parents agreed of the test and showed in interest of their child’s sexual health. Parents accepted learning about the procedure as well as other topics regarding knowledge of sex education. While screenings were occurring many parents asked questions, asked to see the results of their child, and gave their input on how important it is to be aware and informed. As stated in the research of Wanje, Masese, Avuvika, Omoni, and Mcclelland (2017), before the study many were not aware of a lot of general topics regarding sex education. Parents were not interest to talk to their child about it and left the knowledge to teachers. After the screening was done and parents received their child’s results, their views on how important sex education was changed. They knew they had to be more open to discussing all topics of sex education with the child and allow for them to be curious. Parents in this study agreed and supported the importance and significance of being educated on the manner was not only to their child but to themselves as well.
In conclusion, sex education is a controversial topic in many states all over the world. Based on where one lives depend on how strongly supportive a parent may feel or how disconnected a parent may feel towards sex education in schools as a whole. Offering sex education in schools has more advantages than disadvantages. As long as there is care, authenticity, and necessary information, parents are on full board for their child receiving sex education in the school curriculum. Many parents all over the world agree that at some point in age it is essential to learn about sex education and with all of the topics it includes. More so, parents themselves feel they have a small grasp of sex education and have learned throughout all of the studies conducted. All in all, parents feel their children could lack an important aspect of life if not given the opportunity to learn sex education throughout.
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