Stone age sex education

By Jamie Santoro
August 1, 2010

I went to an all-boys high school so I never had the joy of really awkward coed sexual education classes that some of my current classmates did, but I‘m going to assume that “Mean Girls” has a completely accurate portrayal of sex education in America. I’m kidding. A little bit at least.

Schools in this country take one of three approaches when it comes to sex ed. One, abstinence, is chosen by Catholic institutions mostly but encourages the idea of no sex as the best sex. Second, the most utilized version, boils down to putting all the scary facts on the chalk board and then handing out condoms (à la “Mean Girls”). And finally, the third type of education is no education at all.

Now we are in a state of panic as new reports show that handing out free condoms increases STDs among teens. You know what else probably increases STD’s among teens? Abstinence-based sex ed. Abstinence is like doing a Powerpoint on fasting and including a picture of a cheesesteak on every slide.

Now it’s time for the grim fact. Speaking as a former teenage boy, there is no way  to keep teens from having sex. They might not, but I don’t think it’s ever because of anything a teacher or parent said. Left to their own devices teenagers are terrible people and I’m speaking from experience there.

The best-case scenario is a teenager with all the facts. Teens need to know all the gruesome facts about STD’s and more importantly the lack of sex you will have after being diagnosed with one. Teens need to know that condoms and other forms of protection aren’t always completely effective. Any time you have sex there is a risk for STD’s, HIV, and pregnancy. These facts are the only weapons we have.

Condom distribution is one aspect of sex education that has raised a lot of eyebrows. Especially now that STD’s are still on the rise. I think that without these condoms, STDs would be tripled. Handing a kid a condom is not a guarantee that he or she will use it, but isn’t it better to know they have it.

Parents don’t like to hear there is nothing they can do and I know that if I have a daughter that soundproof locked room is going to sound awesome, but while you might not be able to keep your kids from having sex you can keep them from having sex without the knowledge. Teens know, everyday in high school is a battle for a million different reasons. Before you leave for the day you put on your armor and get your weapons ready. Proper sex education should be one of those weapons. Now I sound like a pamphlet your doctor hands you when your voice changes.

American schools need to overhaul their sexual education programs just slightly. The bigger change needs to come from American parents. I don’t think it is the school’s responsibility to teach our kids about sex. Everyone, take a minute and imagine your ninth grade gym teacher talking about genital warts and gonorrhea. That is not a thought you keep prevalent when things are getting intimate. Granted neither is the thought of one’s parents, but I don’t think Eva Mendes is planning on teaching sex ed anytime soon.

Back to the point, a teenager is more likely to take the advice of a parent than anyone else. Maybe they say they won’t or blast whiny rock bands with really long album titles in your face but it does get through.

Jamie Santoro

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