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Abstinence-only proves ineffective

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In 2016, sex is everywhere. It is in hamburger commercials, hip hop music videos, and on social media.

Young people are continuously bombarded by highly sexualized content, but many do not receive an adequate level of education to make good choices in an age rife with promiscuity. The fault is not with the students, but with those tasked with creating the curriculum.

The center for Disease Control found that 65 percent of sexually transmitted diseases contracted by Americans this year will occur in people under 24. Much of the blame can be attributed to a lopsided educational system where different districts have different sets of sex ed guidelines. Some schools teach only abstinence, others teach everything from birth control to homosexuality, while others teach nothing at all.

When done right, effective sex education gives students the information they need to make an informed decision about becoming sexually active, encourages communication and teaches the necessity of consent.

Although comprehensive sex education is proven to be most effective, in 2015 alone congress allocated $75 million toward abstinence-only education. While there is nothing wrong with teaching students about to abstain from sex many of the programs used are degrading and flat out inaccurate.

In one example students put tape on their arm and then pass it down the line of students until it becomes dirty and no longer sticky. This activity is suppose to teach students that after pre-marital sex the person is “used.” If students have already engaged in sexual activities at this point it will lead to them feeling as if no one will ever want to be with them or as if they are ruined.

The flaws in the abstinence-only approach abound, despite the government continuously pumping money into the effort. These abstinence programs fail to provide information about safe sex, which could potentially have fatal effects. Yes, this could be potentially worst-case scenario rationale, but with schools failing to provide information that could save lives, there should be no place for an abstinence-only curriculum.

Young people deserve comprehensive education about human sexuality. Researchers studying the National Survey of Family Growth found that those who receive a comprehensive sexual education are 50 percent less likely to experience pregnancy compared to those who received a staunch abstinence-based education.

The CDC also reported that 47 percent of all high school students say they have had sex, a terrifyingly high number for very limited sexual education to keep them safe. “The United States has the highest teen birth rate in the industrialized world” most likely due to the lack of sex education.

It is entirely unfair that young people are inundated with sexually explicit content, yet their schools fail to prepare them to deal with it properly. That is tantamount to sending a child into the wild to fend for herself without any tools for protection or shelter.

For many youths, schools function as a safe haven where they prepare to deal with the outside world. In the case of sex education, these safe havens are failing.

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