The Guttmacher Institute has reported that America has the highest teen pregnancy rate out of all the developed nations (APA, 2005, p.1). The chart below shows the United State’s birth rate compared to those of other developed nations. Because of this, it’s no surprise that parents and officials are debating the best ways to combat teen pregnancy. These solutions range from abstinent-only sex education classes to leaving the education to parents. Although these can have a positive effect on teens, they are not the best possible solution.
The Best Solution?
A comprehensive sex education class is one that offers information on birth control and STDs/STIs along with promoting abstinence. This type of class taught by schools is the most effective solution for decreasing the rate of teen pregnancies. These classes are the best option because they provide accurate information to all students, help prevent teens from obtaining a STD/STI, and help reduce unprotected sexual intercourse
But How Will We Do This?
Comprehensive sex education classes are also very easy to institute. 91% of schools already have a sexual education class of some sort (Washington Post, 2008). Schools can very easily implement information about birth control and STDs/STIs into their already existing programs. The information about sexually transmitted diseases and infections could even just be place into a health class at the school. Teachers who do not feel comfortable actually showing their students birth control could keep to a lecture
format and give the students resources on where they could more information.
Let’s Look at the Facts
Some people argue that sexual education should be based on the parent’s own wishes, and that parents alone should teach their children about “the birds and the bees.” However, this approach does not take into consideration the children who belong to abusive, neglectful, or single parent homes. These children are not very likely to receive accurate information from their parents regarding sex. This puts the child in danger of obtaining false information about pregnancy and birth control. Brittany Gross, a teen mother, stated that her own (single) mother was often working, and was never around to talk to her about sex. She noted that “she worked too much and wasn’t around to talk to” (B. Gross, personal communication, March 6, 2010). By implementing a comprehensive sex education class, all students will have access to accurate information, regardless of their home lives. A benefit of comprehensive sex education programs is that it helps lower the risk of obtaining an STD or STI. This is especially true in contracting HIV, where most of the initial infections happen before the person is 25 years old. As the American Psychological Association (2005) stated in their press release:
“Based on over 15 years of research, the evidence shows that comprehensive sexuality education programs for youth that encourage abstinence, promote appropriate condom use, and teach sexual communication skills reduce HIV-risk behavior and also delay the onset of sexual intercourse… (p. 2).”
Another alternative solution is to teach an abstinence-only sexual education class. This is a class that does not teach about birth control and STDs/STIs, as it focuses on teaching students to abstain from any sexual actions. Supporters of this believe that they do not have to teach these because their students will not be having sex. Although abstinence is a good way to avoid pregnancy, research done by the American Psychological Association (2005) has stated that: “Both comprehensive sex education and abstinence only programs delay the onsetof sexual activity. However, only comprehensive sex education is effective in protecting adolescents from pregnancy and sexually transmitted illnesses at first intercourse and during later sexual activity. In contrast, scientifically sound studies of abstinence only programs show an unintended consequence of unprotected sex at first intercourse and during later sexual activity (p. 1).”
The biggest reason as to why a comprehensive sex education class is the best solution to teen pregnancy is that it actually lowers the risk of teenage pregnancy. Because students who undergo comprehensive sexual education are more likely to use birth control, the chances of them getting pregnant or impregnating someone are lower. In fact, researchers have found that teenagers were an astonishing 60% less likely to become pregnant or get some one pregnant after being in a comprehensive sexual education class (Sex ed, 2008).
In conclusion, the best possible solution for lowering the teen pregnancy rate is to implement a comprehensive sex education class into the school curriculum. This type of sexual education provides students with accurate information, keeps them safer from STDs/STIs, and also helps to reduce unprotected sexual intercourse among teenagers. Children are our future. We all want what is best for them. In the case of lowering their risk of becoming mothers and fathers at a young age, the most beneficial way to go is by giving them all the information. This way, teenagers have all the information before finally making their own decisions.