9 Challenges Our Students Face in School Today Part VI: Sex & Pregnancy
Challenges are always around our students. Whether the struggle is submitting homework on time or staying focus in class, or other external factors, problems can cause our students to fail. The 9 challenges students face in school in this article are poverty, homeless families, child abuse and neglect, bullying (including cyber bullying), violence, obesity and eating disorders, sex and pregnancy, suicide, drugs, and dropping out. This article reviews the challenges of sex and pregnancy.
Sex outside of marriage occurs among teens and young adults. In the past and in some sectors of society today, a young woman is looked down upon if she becomes pregnant outside of marriage. Young people hear messages about abstinence until marriage along with messages of the importance of using protection during sexual intercourse. They often turn to their peers for information about sex instead of to their parents and other trusted adults. At the same time, they are bombarded with sexual images from the media. With all these conflicting messages regarding sex, is it any wonder the youth of today are confused?
The federal government will only fund programs that teach the restrictive and ineffective principle of abstinence until marriage. One third of American schools has implemented this type of sex education program. Many schools, however, teach comprehensive sex education, which promotes abstinence until marriage but also addresses issues of protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Why do the programs need to be changed? The rates of teen pregnancy and STDs are higher in the United States than in any other developed country and are rising. Sexual activity among teens occurs at high rates, which suggests abstinence-only programs are not working. These programs are woefully out of date, inaccurate, and severely biased. Sexual activity, pregnancy rates, and rates of STDs either stay the same or increase after teens have taken these abstinence-only programs. In 2006, more than 430,000 babies were born to teens between the ages of 15 and 19. These babies are more likely to be born with birth defects, have learning problems, become malnourished, and live in poverty.
The number of babies born to teens has decreased in recent years, but the actual rate of teenage sexual activity has increased. Teens are demanding information beyond that offered through abstinence-only programs.
One approach is the Baby Think It Over program. In this program, students are responsible for caring for a “baby” for an extended period of time. The accompanying software makes it “cry” at regular intervals. Students who are acting as parents must use a key in the baby at regular intervals to feed, bathe, change, and comfort the baby. The software will alert the instructor if the baby has been mistreated or neglected. This is a good program to teach students what it’s like to have the responsibilities of a parent.
Other approaches include building a support system for pregnant teens and bringing the family on board. This replaces the negative reactions to teen pregnancy with the kind of attention that ensures the teen mother and the baby are well cared for, and that prenatal and postnatal education and care are available. During both the pregnancy and the birth of the child, teen mothers can live in stress-free environments with the love and support of their family. This level of support increases the possibility that the teen mother will finish high school and find the means to support herself and her baby.
What can we do to educate and bring more awareness to sexual education? In the classroom seek to assist your students as best as you can and continue to educate them. This may be a scary and uneasy experience for them, therefore we can strive to provide external support. Continue to read the other parts of this series to learn more about the challenges students face today.