Wednesday, February 15, 2017


I think the subject that causes the most contention between parents and educators is sex education. It first became an issue for educators in 1926, when the NEA decided to include it in the curriculum under character education, “as a means of combating the decline of the family, and regulating sexual impulses for the good of society.” (Spring p. 34) Over the years it has evolved to meet the concerns of modern culture which include HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention as well as contraceptive use. It’s a difficult subject to broach because it is as much a cultural/moral issue as it is of social control. Most schools employ a curriculum frequently referred to as “abstinence plus” which teaches that abstinence is best, but also provides instruction on “safe sex methods.” Though they may teach about contraceptives, schools may not use any government funding to supply or support students in the acquisition of contraceptives of any kind. Some parents feel that sex education shouldn’t be included in the curriculum because they feel their children shouldn’t be learning about sex in school at all.  Additionally, there is a great deal of debate over what the extent of the sex education provided in public schools should be. Some programs opt for abstinence-only education (which, as Spring notes, is supported by the No Child Left Behind Act), while others inform students of contraception uses. Interestingly, Mishan Araujo of Stanford University found that, “pregnancy rates were not impacted significantly by sex education curriculum” in her 2008 study of students in 29 different states.* The type of sex education (abstinence-only or other) is relatively  unimportant as long as some type of formal sex education is provided, as shown in the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth which found that, “Data from the 2002 NSFG do not support an association between type of formal sex education and contraceptive use at coitarche but do support an association between abstinence-only messaging and decreased reliable contraceptive method use at coitarche.”**

Spring, Joel H. American Education. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996. Print

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