Education Opinion

Abstinence-only education

By Jessica Shyu — July 01, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Thirty years ago, as a nurse in Taiwan, my mother taught women how to use condoms and other forms of birth control. However that didn’t help her initiate an open dialogue with me about sex, contraception or STDs. Everything I knew about reproduction and STDs until I was 13 was from the middle school gym teacher. And while 13 is young, I knew what gonorrhea was and that I didn’t want it.

The federal government just funded a campaign to encourage parents to speak to their children about sex education. What a great step. We all know that education starts in the home, and the more resources we have available to families, the more likely they will discuss the issue.

Unfortunately, the $8.5 million per year program is limited to abstinence education. While I would never expect abstinence resources NOT to be available to families, I also would never expect contraception/STD resources NOT to be readily available as well. Ignorance may be bliss, but whatever happened to knowledge is power??? Shouldn’t a fair share of that 2-plus year program be also devoted to promoting prevention education?

This is an issue that hits close to my heart. Not just because Mom didn’t teach me about sex ed (she did, but only after I learned the messy parts in school), but because my students in New Mexico didn’t have the opportunity to. Not talking about it obviously won’t make it go away. Teens still get pregnant, STDs are still spread, and the mysteries of body hair remain. There are too many children whose families aren’t talking to them about sex, and they aren’t given the option to learn it in school. To me, the option of sex ed should be a national standard.

Check out “Around the Web” for the latest on the Fed’s war on sex ed.

The opinions expressed in New Terrain are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.