The issue of sexual assault prevention remains controversial, given the stigma attached to teaching young people about sex. Sullivan has served as a sexual health educator at UVA and in area schools for over 30 years. Unsurprisingly, given the persistent stigmas surrounding sex education, Sullivan finds the current curriculum offered in schools lacking. And, this is NOT intentional; it simply speaks to the lack of training and education for those charged with instruction.
America’s Sex Education: How We Are Failing Our Students
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Our youth today are growing up in a culture that surrounds them with sexual imagery and messages—but one in which marriage is often delayed until the late twenties or later. Historically, public health prevention messages have singled out abstinence until marriage as the most effective way to remain free of sexually transmitted infections STIs. Abstinence is a fundamentally important aspect of preventing STIs, but this message alone does not serve well in the absence of comprehensive sexual education and a supportive environment. ASHA believes young people deserve balanced, accurate, and realistic sex education, as well as access to confidential sexual health services. Research also shows that sex education programs that promote abstinence-only have proven ineffective. However, reviews have found that none of the programs has shown a positive impact on sexual behavior or STDs over time. Furthermore, some research shows that young adults who made virginity pledges to abstain from sexual intercourse until marriage as teens ultimately have rates of STIs similar to young adults who did not make such promises as teens and are less likely to use contraception or protection when they do become sexually active.
When only 13 states in the nation require sex education to be medically accurate, a lot is left up to interpretation in teenage health literacy. Research published by the Journal of Adolescent Health shows that when sex education is comprehensive, students feel more informed, make safer choices and have healthier outcomes — resulting in fewer unplanned pregnancies and more protection against sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Of course, many young students pick up sexual health information from sources other than school: parents, peers, medical professionals, social media and pop culture. However, public school is the best opportunity for adolescents to access formal information.
In revised guidelines, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that teenagers receive counselling to postpone sexual activity and also information about and access to contraception, including over the counter emergency contraception without a prescription Pediatrics ; : [ Google Scholar ]. The academy's 60 members provide primary care to infants, children, and teenagers up to the age of 18 or Jonathan Klein, chairman of the committee that drew up the guidelines, told the BMJ that the new report was a routine update to consider newer options such as emergency contraception, not a reaction to the Bush administration's programmes promoting abstinence until marriage and monogamy thereafter.