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Kelsey Lisowski Assignment 1A Argument of Fact Section HB- McGough 12/9/13 The Effectiveness of Sex Education & Contraceptives

Last year, 329,797 babies were born as a result of teenage pregnancy: if you do the math, thats thirty-one out of every 1,000 teenagers in the United States. While these statistics may be staggering, they lend to an important topic at hand. Teenage pregnancy is a serious issue in society today. As a developed nation, the United States has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the world, with a rate that is over five times greater than the Netherlands and three and a half times greater than Germany. The pregnancy rate, however, has been on the decline over the past few decades, namely because of an increase in sexual education and easier access to contraceptives. The majority of public schools have incorporated some component of sexual education into their health programs, and most of these programs teach about contraceptives and how to obtain them. As a result, students have made better choices about having sex and the teenage pregnancy rates have declined. More informative sex education and easier access to contraceptives is effective in reducing teenage pregnancy rates. Sexual education is not a new concept taught throughout schools in the United States. In fact, it has been apart of most schools health curriculum for decades. While this is true, the degree to which sex education is taught varies widely based on each schools program. In the United States, it is required that public high schools teach about sex, but typically these discussions emphasize that abstinence is the best choice for students in high school. The programs do not inform students about the importance of using contraceptives or how to get access to contraceptives. As a result, students are not educated on the importance of making safe decisions and how to make these decisions, and instead act recklessly. Most American parents agree that students should be educated about sex, but not all agree on the subject matter that should be taught. According to the Centers for Disease Control, eighty percent of American adults believe that their children should be educated on sexuality, but only seventy five percent of Americans believe that they should be further educated on the use of condoms, dental dams, and other contraceptives. While it is okay for Americans to differ in their opinions, it is necessary for us to consider the benefit of teaching a thorough program versus a limited one. As a nation, we know that a more thorough discussion about the material will lead to students making more informed decisions and ultimately, better choices. European countries have very low teenage pregnancy rates because of their highly informative sexual education programs. In

the Netherlands, sex education is incorporated into all aspects of the students education, beginning in preschool. According to Deborah Weiss, author of Reducing Teenage Pregnancy, the Netherlands teenage pregnancy birth rate is only 5.3 per 1,000 young women. Germany also has a more comprehensive program, and their teenage pregnancy rate is three and a half times lower than ours here in the U.S. (Weiss 3). France is similar, with a program starting at the age of 13, and a teenage pregnancy rate three times lower than the U.S. (Weiss 4). The United States has started to create programs similar to that of the European countries, and the results have been positive. In states such as Minnesota and New York, the majority of parents believe that their students should be given access to condoms in their childrens schools. Many Americans may disagree with this because they believe it will encourage students to have sex and cause more teenage pregnancy in the U.S. The opposite is true though. The National Survey of Family Growth found that 86 percent of the decline in teen pregnancy rates through 2002 occurred because teens were using contraceptives more effectively. With easier access to condoms, this rate would decrease even more. In Massachusetts, 42% of students reported not having sex in high school, whereas the national average is 49% (Fine). Evidence shows that this is due to the in-depth sexual education program that Massachusetts has implemented in its schools. Massachusetts is not the only place using sex education to help reduce teenage pregnancy rates; the Harvard Educational Review found that an increase in sex education around the U.S. is increasing contraceptive knowledge and use amongst teenagers throughout the nation. The journal also found that educational programs do not increase the number of teens who practice sexual intercourse, but actually delays it for many people. Most frequently, this delay is caused because young women choose not to have sex because of the information they receive in school and from family planning counseling. Many women feel capable of making strong decisions on their own after receiving sex education through high school or a counselor, which is why they say no to sex. They gain confidence in themselves that they didnt previously have, giving them the courage to say no when pressured into having sexual intercourse. Their newfound confidence also gives them a sense of independence, allowing them to realize that they do not need to rely on a boy who wants sex in order to be happy. Teenage pregnancy rates have also been on the decline because of the nations effort to provide easier access to contraceptives. There are now options besides condoms, such as birth control and Plan B. While Plan B is not intended for prolonged use like birth control, it works well for young teenagers who do not wish to get pregnant after making a mistake the night before. Birth control is also helpful, because it is now easier to get through places like Planned Parenthood and womens health clinics. In many states, young women are capable of getting a prescription without the consent of their parents, which allows them to be safe and make responsible

decisions on their own. Condoms are also helpful, as they are now being provided to students in certain schools as well as through drug and grocery stores. Students are taught about them early on and are not afraid to buy them because of how accessible they are. Both condoms and better sex education have helped to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate in the United States. It has already been proven that these two things are successful in reducing the teenage pregnancy rate, now it is necessary to implement programs that incorporate these two things into all health programs throughout the nation. Students would not only benefit because of reduced pregnancy rates, but because of the additional information they would receive about sex and the ability for them to prevent mistakes in the future.

Works Cited Fine, Michelle. "Sexuality, Schooling, and Adolescent Females: The Missing Discourse of Desire." Harvard Educational Review 58.1 (1988): 29-53. Print. Weiss, Deborah. "Reducing Teenage Pregnancy." Planned Parenthood. Katharine Dexter McCormick Library, Oct. 2012. Web. 14 Nov. 2013. "Teenage Pregnancy." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. USA.gov, 5 Sept. 2013. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.