Next month will mark two years since North Dakota passed a bill outlining sex education curriculum in high schools based entirely on promoting abstinence. It is unfair that the government can control what teachers present to their students. Abstinence-only should be included in sex education. I can understand why parents would want abstinence-only education to be taught. However, abstinence shouldn’t be the only thing taught.
Younger generations need to know about safe sex and the possibilities of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). This could not only prevent the spread of STIs but lower the rate of teen pregnancy. Shows like “Teen Mom” are showing teenagers what it’s like to be a teen parent but not the dangers that come along with having sex at a young age.
Just because teachers inform students about abstinence doesn’t mean they will be abstinent. Teachers should stress abstinence in their lessons because that is the only method that completely prevents all the issues that can happen while having sex.
Yet with Valentine’s Day coming up, talking about safe sex is important. The best people to preach abstinence to teenagers would be their parents. A teacher talking about abstinence will help to convince students but the most effective influences are parents.
Growing up, my mother talked to me about abstinence a lot. She also talked about STIs and the experience of being a mother at age 21. My aunt passed away from AIDS before she reached 30 years old. All of these things helped me make the decision to be abstinent while all of my friends were already having sex. Graduating from a North Dakota high school, more than 50 percent of the girls in my class were already mothers. It is because they didn’t teach us enough in health class about pregnancy.
Once, while I was in high school, there was an outbreak of STIs, mainly chlamydia. Half of the students in our class had no idea what chlamydia was. I know that if they were taught more about safe sex it would have lowered that rate. I agree completely that abstinence should be taught in sex education because it is the main thing that can prevent all of these issues but the possibility of teens being abstinent now isn’t very likely. More than 50 percent of teenagers lose their virginity in high school, and I’m sure a large majority of that is on Valentine’s Day.
North Dakota is going about sex education the wrong way. Yes, teach abstinence, but don’t make it your core curriculum because it is not realistic. The legislators are too hopeful that preaching abstinence will stop teens from having sex but in reality it won’t. Teenagers are in that stage where they are experimenting with a lot of different things and they are feeling peer pressure for the first time. If anything, we need take into account ways to help them have safe sex and educate them on teen pregnancy.
Each teen is their own person and regardless of what they are taught, they will do what they want anyway. Like my mother always used to say growing up: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink.”
BY JANAE BOSWELL