Organization Trends

The Sex Education of Our Nation’s Children: What’s Best for the Kids

The Sex Education of Our Nation’s Children (full series)
The First Formal Sex Ed | Since the Sexual Revolution
What’s Best for the Kids | Are There Any Solutions?

What’s Best for the Kids

To go back to a previous question, should sex education continue to keep up with a more sexually permissive society? It is often assumed that young people just want less rules and more permissive stances on all issues, especially regarding teens and sex. But is this true? Morality in society may be declining, but does that mean kids want to continue this downward trend? Not necessarily.

Think back to your teenage experience with sex education. Perhaps you remember what your sex education class was like in public school. I received comprehensive sex education when I was a teen in California in the 1990s, my sophomore year, which was the customary age for the class. We watched the movie Daddy about the difficulties of having a baby as a teen, learned about STDs with graphic pictures (which was a traumatizing but effective deterrent), awkwardly practiced putting a condom on a banana, and memorized all the sexual reproductive organs. Do you remember being enthusiastic about sex ed class, or was it an embarrassing and uncomfortable necessity? I bet the answer is the latter. It’s an uncomfortable subject for children, and it should be, especially among their peers and adult teachers.

But back then, it wasn’t nearly as bad as today. It was a two-week session in a required health class. That’s about it. Some even had boys and girls separated, thankfully. And the subjects weren’t nearly as graphic and uncomfortable as they are today.

It is often assumed that kids want less rules, more freedom, more sex, etc. But that’s not what I heard from students as a public middle school teacher. They hated it. It was “weird” and “uncomfortable” for them. Could it be that adults are pushing their own perverted agendas on kids, not because the kids want this, but because the adults want it?

Consider these statistics cited by the organization ASCEND, which provides instructor training for Sexual Risk Avoidance Education, and keep in mind these are current statistics. Contrary to popular ideas of sex-crazed teenagers, “most adolescents support reserving sex for marriage, both in general and for themselves.” Shocked yet? It turns out a lot of kids just want to stay kids as long as possible, at least in some ways. Sadly, peer pressure often pushes children to do things they don’t even want to do, and then adults turn around and use those sad results as a picture of what kids want.

Furthermore, around half of 18–19-year-olds “wish they had waited longer before becoming sexually active.” Again, contrary to the views of comprehensive sex ed advocates that paint the picture of sex-crazed teens desperately needing their information, the statistics show that most teens are not having sex today. Nor do they like the idea of casual sex, with 80 percent of 18–19-year-olds saying they disagree with such an attitude toward sex. Lastly, and this statistic drives home my point the most, “about 40% of teens say that their sex ed classes make them feel pressured to have sex.”

What are we pushing on our innocent children?

In the next installment, shifting to opt-in policies would place parents back in charge of sex education.

Kali Fontanilla

Kali is serving as CRC’s Senior fellow, particularly focusing on topics related to K-12 public education. She has 15 years of experience as a credentialed educator working in public and…
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