With recent headlines about teen pregnancy, specifically referencing Jamie Lynn Spears, the topic of teen pregnancy has been brought into an even more public eye. Though no one will ever know the exact details behind the surprise pregnancy (though most have a pretty good idea what happened) except for Jamie Lynn and the young father-to-be, we must wonder if sexual education or lack thereof was an issue.
How important is sexual education? What type of sexual education is the most effective?
This is a hotly debated topic within elementary, middle and high school administrations as well as throughout PTA groups. Many believe that earlier exposure to sexual information compels students to act out sexually at an earlier age than those who aren’t taught sexual education until an older age. This leads many parents to simply take the backseat on talking to their kids about safe sex, which leaves schools to pick up the slack.
Personally speaking, I supplemented my occasionally-taught sexual education by flipping to the back of my health book or talking to friends. Child development class in high school was an eye opener too, especially after having to carry around a fake crying baby for three days (which I wanted to shove in my locker by the end of day one). But I can still remember in sixth grade, when my teacher was too embarrassed to even refer to body parts and sex, so they used flowers and plants as examples.
One of my four roommates described his sex-ed experience as “it was once a year, and the boys and girls were separated, then shown diagrams of body parts and gross photos of STDs.” Mine was somewhat scant, but alarmingly I have found that many of my peers have experienced a sexual education much like mine.
Are these types of experiences contributors to unsafe sex? Is it the responsibility of the school, the parents or a matter or self education for students? Is there a direct link between a shoddy sex education experience, and perpetuated sexual myths and possibly unintentional pregnancies?
Every week I watch “Talk Sex with Sue” on Oxygen, and am baffled at the amount of callers wondering “if they can get pregnant from swallowing semen.” Or those who call in asking if a woman can get pregnant if she is on top during sex, since gravity wouldn’t allow the semen to reach the egg. The most alarming part though… these people’s voices don’t seem to sound young. They sound like adults!
Jamie Lynn Spears– just 16-years-old and pregnant. This should be a wake up call to parents and future parents everywhere. How do you ensure that your children are aquiring the right information in schools? Try supplementing them at home with more effective and comprehensive advice. And if your kids come home saying they learned how babies are made, and start talking about plants, be cautious.