SPN Staff Writer
The Caliber of Sex-Ed Instruction in Public Schools
The Delivery of the Message
The public controversy centered around sex education in public schools has shifted. Where the question was once whether or not sexual education should be taught in public schools, the fray now questions the methodology of what is being taught. The division exist between advocates of an "abstinence only" approach (supported by the "No Child Left Behind Act") versus the more traditional sexuality programs that include the correct usage and protective qualities of contraceptives. Many parents however, find themselves more concerned about the environment their children find themselves exposed to when sex-education classes are being taught.
In many schools across the country, these classes are gender exclusive, however teachers can quickly find themselves out of control when facing a room full of adolescent students. With classes full of immature children titillated by the subject matter, giggles, whoops and hollers echo into the halls as middle school children are exposed to the deadly serious aspect of approaching their sexual development responsibly. Their teachers constantly struggling to keep the children focused on the gravity of what is being discussed. Consequently, because of the loose and casual atmosphere of sex ed classrooms, thousands of parents question the validity and the effectiveness of sex-education being delivered in public education. If the message can't be delivered responsibly then should it be delivered at all?
The sexual education of adolescent children is presented to parents as a necessary and legitimate course of study. Shouldn't the demeanor of the class and the accountability regarding the subject material be just as serious and in depth as any other class centered around health and science? Why is such a serious subject encapsulated within a few days? Many parents feel that sex education programs in public schools today amount to no more than a 3 day sex talk complete with giggles, immature commentary, and very little real instruction taking place rather than being approached in a true academic manner.
Taught properly, sexual education and development could easily become part of any other scientific course of study like Human Biology, Human Behavior, Human Anatomy or Health. More importantly, perhaps if administrators present a more dignified and academic approach to the delivery of sexual education, complete with test and grades, it may just impress upon our children that they should view sex a serious part of their human development rather than a recreational activity.
Sex education that delays sexual activity
(excerpt) A new and more effective sex education program called A PAUSE (Added Power and Understanding in Sex Education) takes a different approach. Based on extensive research at Exeter University’s Department of Child Health, it doesn’t just focus on the physical aspects of sex, but also addresses the emotional side. So far, around 100 schools have enrolled in this ground-breaking programme.
Is It Enough to "Just Say No":
(excerpt) Does sex education belong in public schools? Yes, say 90 percent of parents around the country. But that doesn't indicate parental consensus on what sex education means. Should it be health-and-safety oriented? Informed by moral principles? Focused on contraception or celibacy? School boards everywhere are wrestling with different perspectives on a very touchy subject. This article explores the "abstinence only" approach.
University of California - Center for Aids Prevention Studies:
Does Sex Education Work:
(excerpt) The question is no longer should sex education be taught, but rather how should it be taught. Over 93% of all public high schools currently offer courses on sexuality or HIV.(1) More than 510 junior or senior high schools have school-linked health clinics, and more than 300 schools make condoms available on campus. The question now is are these programs effective, and if not, how can we make them better?
Rethinking Schools Online:
Let's Talk About Sex -
(excerpt) With more and more sex ed teachers focusing on abstinence - often against their better judgment - many students are not receiving the kind of information those very teachers feel they need, according to research by the Alan Guttmacher Institute.
Yahoo News Health Reuters:
US Teachers Untrained for Birds-And-Bees Questions
(excerpt) NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Only a minority of US elementary school teachers are trained in how to best answer students' questions about sexuality, new research suggests
Reading Writing and Reproduction: Educators Vary in Style and Content When Teaching Sex-Ed
Parents demand say on sex education
USA Today: Health & Science
Sex education stirs controversy