Increased teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are signs that the youth population lacks sex education. According to studies, adolescents account for nearly half of all new cases of HIV infection, with the majority of these infections being caused by unprotected sexual activities. Infections are on the rise as a result of adolescents’ lack of awareness about how to engage in healthy sexual activities and make healthy decisions. These infections can be minimized by delaying sexual activity by sex education programs. Abstinence-only systems may yield similar outcomes.Curriculums emphasizing abstinence should be sufficiently designed to prepare teenagers to make informed decisions about their sexual health. Sexual health programs considerably ensure that sexually active teens remain disease- free (Kleinert n.p). According to the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, when youth or kids receive a single story concerning their sexuality, they are likely to develop stereotypes which might incline their thinking in only one line (Adichie Min. 14-16). There is, therefore, a need to ensure that teens get sex education that emphasizes on both sides of the story and tells them openly all they need to know about their sexuality. The paper will, therefore, argue that a lack of sex education adversely influences teen identity.
Teens are always concerned with how they physically appear with numerous body changes during adolescence. These are times when physical appearance is of paramount importance. Boys and girls spend hours thinking about their appearance in order establish norms of societal groups they most identify with. They make extraordinary wishes which include developing unique styles. Consequently, they spend most of their good times in bathrooms and in front of mirrors to realize this goal. Adolescents’ concerns, to a large extent, feature such appearance aspects including spots, eyeglasses, facials, and weight (Kar et al. 64-70). Teenagers with learning impediments undergo serious emotional stress, unlike typical teens, with girls affected the more compared to boys. Reports have connected these vulnerable teens to suicidal attempts. With the increasing emotional stress, teens with learning challenges highly risk negative outcomes such as suicide and violence.
As they grow to age, adolescents develop the necessary cognitive socially, physically and emotionally to experiment with unique behaviors. They take more risks, which are important in shaping their identities. Also, they reach out to new ways of making decisions and assess themselves and the world realistically. Teens must be given room to experiment and experience the outcomes of their decisions in diverse situations. At this stage of life, they are supposed to get educated on the consequences of some of the actions they engage in. Lack of education or a single sided story at this stage will lead to imbalances as well as stereotypes that might go on to affect their adult life (Adichie Min. 12-15). However, teens tend to overestimate their potential to deal with new circumstances. Sex education is, therefore, necessary to streamline the behavior of these teens.
Teens are prone to challenges during their adolescence. At this stage, teens undergo series of biological and physiological changes which do meet their preparation. As a result, they find it hard to cope and get stressed. In effect, teens perceive voice changes, onsets of menstruation and secondary sexual traits as challenges. Hence, family and societal attitudes are critical at puberty stage to shape the sexual in behavior adolescents after puberty (Goesling et al. 499).
In third-world countries, most schools do not prioritize formal sex education (Kar et al. 70). The few who provide it do so on a lesser magnitude. When sexual education is not adequately provided for in schools, teenage students engage in unprotected sex which causes early pregnancies, also sexually transmitted diseases. Among the reasons why adolescents practice unprotected sex include poor parent-child relations such that issues of sexuality and sexually transmitted infections are not communicated properly. Adolescents are, therefore, denied opportunity to discuss their sexuality issues which adversely impacts on their sexual health development. Early marriage increase exposure to sex and influence pregnancies which result in serious reproductive health concerns. Additionally, the lack of knowledge of the fact that male and female teenagers process language differently and the need to ensure that this is taken care of whenever educating them also results in undesired behavior among the teens (Tannen n.p).
Interpersonal violence has been noted as a concern in teenagers. It either manifests physically or through sexual abuse. Adolescents, to a greater extent, do not receive enough training in parenting skills. Consequently, the challenges associated with teenage pregnancy along with adolescent fatherhood are bound to increase. Educational and clinical interventions regarding adolescent sexuality tend to focus more on the teenage coital sexual activities. Adolescents are reported to participate highly in non-coital sexual activities which provide gateways through which sexually transmitted diseases are transmitted alongside HIV infection.
Social factors contribute towards adolescent sexuality (Goesling et al. 501). The parent’s opinions on sexuality, parenting mechanism, relationships involving peers, cultural backgrounds among other social factors increase sexual learning and form the basis for determining the sexual attitude of teenagers. Physiological factors, for instance, individual personality determines one’s attitude towards sexuality. Evidence has indicated that introvert adolescents have problems when approaching and responding to sexuality. Social factors such as peer relationships, parenting styles, and cultural differences provide a sexual learning experience and consequently determine the sexual attitude of most teenagers. Individual’s personality helps to analyze a teen’s attitude toward sexuality. In most cases, introvert adolescents have difficulties when faced with sexuality matters.
As envisaged in the Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychosexual development, different phases which include oral, anal, phallic, and genital and latency are vital steps psycho-sexual development (Kleinert n.p). Body parts behave erotogenic ally, to achieve gratification, an individual has to stimulate these erotogenic zones. Teen identity is the core towards the journey of self-discovery among the adolescents. It not only determines one’s personality but also defines important interrelationship connections sand identity. Through real self identity, a teen perception of belonging is thus shaped all the way to their adulthood. Of importance, there is a positive correlation between positive self identify and positive self-esteem. Self-identity when positively reinforced with significant efforts leads to the right choices.
Sexual education explores important issues which affect the youth. Sexual orientation sparks heated debates on social, psychological and medical matters that involve lesbian, gay or bisexual relationship (Kleinert n.p). These problems are caused stigmatization facing these youth as opposed to the orientation. It is worth noting that sexual orientation does not add up to a diagnosis and pediatricians are not held responsible for unfolding a teen’s sexual orientation. Suggestively, practitioners must provide a conducive environment where youths can raise questions and worries affecting them. Some teens consider themselves as heterosexuals, yet they get attracted to their counterparts of the same gender or have had sex with whom they have the same gender. Teens end up getting confused about their mixed feelings. High school teens that show deviance from the regular sex are vulnerable attempt suicide. When a teen gains a gay identity before the age of majority, this risk gets more pronounced. Other situations that accelerate suicide attempts include family conflicts and scared teens run away or are thrown out of the house.
Relationships issues tend to disorient the teens more than anybody else. Adolescents need to learn how to relate to peers, friends and sexual partners. Gay, lesbian, as well as bisexual teens, find the learning process a bit complicated due to the absence of same-sex relationships models. How to meet people of interest, how to flirt and how a date is handled are a mystery to the adolescents. Sex education, apart from giving more details on relationships, defines what is morally right for the teens (Goesling et al. 506)
Recent studies have sought to establish whether comprehensive sex education and abstinence-only impact on teen pregnancy, sexual activity, and STD’s prevalence. The studies have indicated that abstinence-only approach alone does not deter teens from engaging in sex or delay their first sexual encounters in comparison with comprehensive sex education (Kleinert n.p; Tannen n.p). The student revealed that teenagers who receive sex education had reduced their chances of becoming pregnant by 50%. With limited evidence, these studies have concluded that teens with formal sex education on STDs undergo testing, get diagnosed and receive treatment.
Proponents of abstinence-only have argued that teaching on contraceptive use and pregnancy will only encourage sexual promiscuity. Abstinence will only delay the onset of sexuality. Another way to abstain is through virginity pledges. However; these virginity pledges do not mean that teens abstain from sexual intercourse. Use of contraceptives is mostly recommendable to sexually-active teenagers. Teaching on abstinence programs has been proved to mislead adolescents on contraceptive use while at the same time giving inaccurate information on abortion. As a consequence, some states have objected to the federal government’s funding for abstinence programs in schools. Information asymmetry thus encourages teenage students to opt not use any birth control method such as condoms and other protection with the perception that these measures are ineffective. Hence, these inconsistencies tend to increase the prevalence rates of sexually transmitted infections (Kar et al. 69-71; Tannen n.p).
Teenage identity has also deteriorated due to lack of trained educators. Investigations recently concluded have indicated that one in every three teachers giving sexual is the prerequisite training on the subject matter. Due to limited experience, insufficient learning materials and discomfort, many sex education teachers often omit important learning points. Additionally, physicians and nurses should advise teens appropriately in scenarios where sex education result in gaps which greatly disadvantage the teens (Kar et al. 69-71).
Comprehensive approaches to sex education are not value-free as criticized by many. Arguments have been raised that sexuality issues should be discussed through a defined moral framework which emphasizes on the centrality of sex contextualized in the heterosexual marriages (Kar et al. 70). Only teens aligned with particular religious and accurate cultural value systems find such approaches useful. However, for many teenagers across the world, this method has proved to be not only irrelevant but hopelessly idealistic. Again, it is an error to assume that some approaches can be value-free yet they stress critical values affecting mutuality and respect.
Sex education has been proved beyond doubt to influence teen identity. When sex education is lacking, teens have excuses to indulge in questionable sexual behavior which subject them to serious health risks. In particular, sexually transmitted diseases are more pronounced in adolescents. Additionally, HIV infection is a potential risk towards the adolescents. Comprehensive education programs are essential for teaching the teenagers to be responsible when making sexuality related decisions which will automatically define their identity. Teen identity helps to the youth to determine their self-worth and sense of belonging. It also provides an opportunity for the teenagers to make healthy choices in sexuality matters as they grow to adulthood. Teens need sex education to develop their cognitive ability and make informed decisions. Besides, sex education helps to tackle questions and dilemma that the adolescents encounter.
Adichie, Chimamanda N. The danger of a single story. TED. (Video). July, 2009.
Goesling, Brian, et al. “Programs to reduce teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and associated sexual risk behaviors: a systematic review.” Journal of Adolescent Health 54.5 (2014): 499-507.
Kar, Sujita Kumar, Ananya Choudhury, and Abhishek Pratap Singh. “Understanding normal development of adolescent sexuality: A bumpy ride.” Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences 8.2 (2015): 70.
Kleinert, Paul Dale. “Sex Education Programs, Motivation, and the Seeking of Educational Versus Erotic Material: A Comparison of Abstinence Only Until Marriage and Comprehensive Programs.” Sex Education 4 (2016): 30-56.
Tannen, Deborah. “How Male and Female Students Use Language Differently.” June 1991.