Sex Education in Schools

There seems a reasonable case that sex education in schools, which includes instruction in contraception and the adverse effects of teenage motherhood on getting a good education and rewarding employment, is likely to reduce teenage pregnancies and births. In the United States, sex education is generally a part of the curriculum from grade 7 through 12.

Sex Education Laws

The law on sex education in schools varies from one state to another. The state law determines what can be included as part of sex education and whether a parent can stop the child from receiving sex education.

In most states parents can choose whether or not their children should receive sex education in school. In some states, parental consent is required for the child to attend sex education classes or take part in health clinic services.

In states without any law on sex education in schools, the county and local laws as well as the rules and regulations of the education department will determine how sex education should be handled. Some of the states with sex education laws allow the county and local bodies to determine whether or not a parent should be allowed to decide if the child should receive sex education.

Generally sex education in schools will address the following:

• Abstinence
• Proper use of contraceptives
• Information about the human genitalia and reproduction
• Pregnancy and the cost of child raising
• Sexuality
• Adoption

Please check with your state and local laws.


It is widely believed that unplanned pregnancies and births can be reduced by the provision of sex education in schools, which includes instruction in the use of contraception. There is no doubt that many sexually active female adolescents and adult women who do not wish to become pregnant nevertheless use contraception inconsistently and are therefore at risk of becoming pregnant. For instance, in the United States, studies carried out in the 1980s found that only about one-third of sexually active single adolescents reported regular and consistent use of contraception. However opponents argue that sex education, especially the teaching of the use of contraceptives will contribute to the delinquency of the minor.

Sex Education in the Schools – Pros and Cons

Opposition to sex education in schools comes in three main forms. Some claim that contemporary sex education subverts the law or that it encourages behavior which results in outcomes (including teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases) which are a drain on the public purse. Secondly, there are some parents from religious groups who perceive the values being transmitted to children in sex-education lessons in school as so far removed from those of their own beliefs that they prefer to exercise their legal right to withdraw their children from sex education lessons and teach them at home or in the place of worship instead. Pressure groups promoting conservative family values have sometimes reached the same conclusion, arguing that sex education is in much safer hands if it is left up to parents. Lastly, as already noted above, it is sometimes argued that young children have a natural innocence which may be prematurely lost as a result of lessons designed to raise their sexual awareness.

Supporters point to research which suggests that sex education does not encourage students to become sexually active at younger ages and that if young people are educated in the correct use of condoms this will reduce both teenage pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Though parents are normally the most natural and most important sex educators of their children, they are not always in the best position to understand the influences to which their children are subject as they grow older and therefore may not be able to meet all of their specific needs To abandon sex education in schools would not in itself guarantee the preservation of children’s innocence, for even very young children pick up a lot of information about sex in the playground and through informal interaction with their peers, though the learning may be haphazard and inaccurate. Parents can have little control over the values to which the children are exposed in this way. The sexual abuse of children is more likely to thrive where they are kept in ignorance about sexual matters. Formal sex education can respond to these challenges not by trying to protect children from the influence of peers or television but by developing their ability to reflect critically on the sexual values to which they are exposed in the broader society and to deconstruct the sexual messages of television and advertising. Indeed, developing the capacity for such critical reflection is what education is centrally about.


There are two sides to the debate. While some parents support the idea of sex education in schools, the others who are completely opposed to the idea. But almost everyone agree that some form of sex education is required, even if it mean abstinence only.

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