Americas sex uneducation

Policy in the United States allows funding only for abstinence-only education.

Last week was Safer Sex Week 2006, sponsored by the University student-group Sexual Health and Disease Education. Tables at Coffman Union boasted about the high percentages of students who choose abstinence and offered freebie contraception to many students. There is much more to say on the subject of safer sex for the entire nation. The United States has tremendously higher pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection rates among young people than countries in Europe. Sexual education policy in the United States needs a change.

Sexual education policy in the United States leaves schools with an option of how to teach the subject, however, abstinence-only education is the only government-sanctioned method.

There are many ways to teach sex education, but those most common in public schools are abstinence-only, abstinence-plus or comprehensive. Abstinence-only teaches students that abstaining from sexual activity until marriage is the only correct option. Abstinence-plus stresses abstinence but also teaches some about how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Comprehensive teaches students about sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, how to prevent both, the responsibility and respect involved in sexual activity and about emotional implications of sex.

In Europe, young people are treated more like adults. Sex is considered normal in late adolescence and is accepted by the community. Students are taught comprehensively and this might be the cause for the astonishingly lower rates of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. According to a study done by Advocates for Youth, women in the United States aged 15-19 have birth rates four times greater than in countries such as Germany and France. HIV infection in men in the same age group is more than three times greater than Germany and the Netherlands. Lower rates are because of the prevalence of comprehensive education, inexpensive access to contraception and general respect for youth.

Sex is a part of everyoneís life whether they are choosing to have it or not. Comprehensive education is a human right.