Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Quality sex education lacking in schools

Have you ever had a child ask you where babies come from? I have, and true to the biology major stereotype, have always told myself that if a child ever asked me that question I would be completely honest. So what happened when my little brother, who at the time was 7 years old, asked me where babies come from? I told him all about it. Sperm, ovaries, eggs, the whole nine yards, and what did he do when I finished? He disgustedly looked at me and said, "You don't have to lie to me. Girls don't have eggs in their bodies. We get eggs from chickens." With that, he moped away from me. I was heartbroken. But all was well when four years later he came home from school and thanked me for being honest with him. Because of what he learned earlier, he was not stunned when they talked about development in his health class. I was stunned that, at 11, he was not shocked at the material presented to him. He informed me that it was his duty to tell all of his male friends about women's changes during puberty, as it was left out of their biologically gender segregated chat on what "becoming a man was all about." Had he been absent from class that day, his male friends would, for an undetermined amount of time, be oblivious to female menstruation, pregnancy risks and the importance of communication in sexual encounters. The 2000 Guttmacher Report found that "despite levels of sexual activity comparable to their European counterparts, the teenage pregnancy rate in the United States was two to five times higher than in other developed countries." Where are the disparities? The answer: "Lack of comprehensive sex education and inadequate access to contraceptives or unwarranted fears about their use." In the "American Family Physician," a survey was done on 340 students in eighth grade. In it they found that at about the age of 12.2 years, students engage in sexual behaviors with about 2.4 partners. If at the age of 12, young people start to experiment with their sexuality, we as a nation have the duty to inform them earlier so that the possible consequences of their actions and the many ways to protect themselves are known. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's recent decision to turn down $600,000 in abstinence-only, educational federal funding is a result of changes in federal guidelines to a strict eight-point guideline system. These points include teaching students that sexual activity outside of marriage could lead to harmful psychological and physical effects, and that students don't receive necessary information regarding contraception or sexually transmitted infections and diseases. This decision makes Wisconsin only the fifth state to reject abstinence-only funds in 2007. Every year, millions of adolescents graduate from governmentally funded programs only to have pregnancy and STI percentages remain high. Because of this fact, we have the responsibility to support legislation that acknowledges comprehensive sex education as a step forward in creating informed citizens. In addition to the physical health statistics, many relationships also suffer psychologically. Due to the taboo on sex talk that our society faces, children find it difficult to talk to their parents, and more importantly, partners find it difficult to talk to each other. Although a catchy phrase, comprehensive sex education needs to be looked at and reviewed as well. It is critical to arm students with information regarding sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy risks, contraceptives and the option of abstinence. In addition, it is important to initiate conversations with young people regarding communication, consent and pleasure. Only then will sex be given the respect and dignity it deserves as a physical and psychological topic. So when your time comes and a young person looks up to you and asks with big round eyes, "Where do babies come from?" give that individual the respect he or she deserves, regardless of his or her age. Avoid being a copout. No birds. No bees. Paula Tran is a junior majoring in biology. She is a Sex Out Loud staff member.

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