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Should Sex Education Be Taught In Middle School?

Written by Maria


    There are many issues facing middle school students in today’s fast paced times.  Some of these issues include making the transition between being a child and becoming a teenager, asserting individual independence, and changes in interpersonal relationships with family and friends.

    Entering middle school also coincides with the physical and emotional changes that are involved with undergoing puberty.  All of a sudden, teenagers find themselves experiencing changes in their bodies and having new feelings due to hormones.  They begin to mature at a much faster rate and also begin having more questions about sex and intimacy.

    Unfortunately, we live during times when teenagers are feeling more and more pressure to become sexually active.  Obviously, this is never an easy subject to broach for any parent due to wanting to protect and shield their children at any cost.  Many kids avoid discussing this topic with their parents due to fears that their parents will overreact or be judgmental.

    This brings us to the question of whether sex education should be taught at the middle school level.  In most cases, the decision has already been made by many school districts to offer sex education as part of every school’s Science curriculum or their Physical Education curriculum in the form of Health Class.  Students are taught about sex and their bodies from a strictly scientific point of view.

    Parents are still in control over their children’s participation in and exposure to these sex education units.  Most schools will provide students with permission slips that need to be signed by parents in order for children to be allowed to sit in class during these lessons.  Students whose parents declined for them to participate are made to sit in another classroom while their classmates are learning about sex education.

    According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2007), a third of middle school students are having sex before they enter high school.  While this still means that most middle schoolers are not engaging in actual intercourse, it does not mean that they are not experimenting with romantic relationships, noticing changes in their bodies, or starting to discuss sex with their peers.

    Additionally, these teenagers are already being bombarded with all kinds of sex related images in the media within music videos, television and movies.  The internet also provides young people with unlimited access to information.  Parents are constantly looking for ways to combat these influences by monitoring the images and information that their children are exposed to.

    Whose responsibility is it to teach children about sex and sexuality, parents or schools?  Would you allow your child to participate in a sex education class at school?  We would love to hear your thoughts…



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About the author


Maria Castro es la propietaria y editora del blog en el que ella documenta sus experiencias como madre de dos niños, esposa y maestra de escuela intermedia en la ciudad de Nueva York durante más de 10 años.

  • Firewifeelly

    I think the schools should teach the biology of sex, pregnancy, including ways to prevent pregnancy.  The morals of sex before marriage and feelings on birth control should come from the home.  I fully intend to teach my kids about sex and how our family feels about pre marital sex and so on, but I don’t pretend to think they won’t be getting information from other people on the bus or in the bathroom…especially OLDER kids, everyone wants to listen to the oh so mature 8th graders.  I want my kids armed with the FACTS about sex, pregnancy and prevention.  

    • Maria – Tough Cookie Mommy

      I think that it is great that you already have a plan in place for how you are going to talk to your children about sex.  I’ve always maintained that open communication is key in fostering good relationships between parents and children.  Unfortunately, not all parents feel as comfortable about discussing this topic with their kids.  I agree with you that it is important for parents to be realistic about the fact that their children will still be getting information from many other sources…

  • Jenna Tomaszewski

    I did sex education in High School, I think though at the rate today’s kids are being bombarded with sexual messages that yes it should be taught today in the lower grades. If parents aren’t going to teach their kids then the school should so the students have the facts, the last thing we need is kids getting bad information from the internet or worse each other and the media.

    • Maria – Tough Cookie Mommy

      Jenna, I agree that it is much better for kids to get the facts about this topic from a knowledgeable source.  Unfortunately, they are exposed to so much information from so many sources that it is difficult to monitor and filter every single item.  Hence why it is so important for parents or educators to address the issue with them appropriately.

  • AnaRC

    Bueno Maria, my oldest is entering 5th grade and I panic over the idea that my child will be exposed to Sex Education soon.  I’ve seen these classes in school and the funny jokes that go around the topic.  I don’t think a Middle School student has the maturity to have sex responsibly.  My only recommendation is abstinence.  I don’t want anyone handing a strawberry flavor condom to my kid. Instead I want to handle that conversation as the parent.  
    I understand however that many parents don’t talk to their kids about sex until they realize that the vecina is pregnant (often too late).  So maybe the school should make sure they conduct sex education among parents.  That would be a great opportunity to also teach parents how to talk to their kids about sex, how to add their religious values in the conversation and how to keep the door open for communication.

    • Maria – Tough Cookie Mommy

      Ana, I completely agree with you that a Middle School student definitely does not have the maturity to have sex responsibly or to deal with the consequences of having sex.  However, the unfortunate reality is that middle schoolers are having sex.  I also agree with you that it is a parent’s responsibility to address this topic with their child.  Many parents don’t know how to broach the subject and this is where sex education at the school level comes in.  You do make a great point, maybe schools can offer more workshops to help parents talk to their children about sex.  There is definitely no easy answer and each family has to do what is good for their children on an individual basis…

  • Karen Greenberg

    I think it is important for students to have certain basic information.  Ultimately the responsibility for sex education is the parents’, but I don’t think it hurts for schools to cover the topic “just in case.”  I did allow my daughter to attend the seminar at her school at the end of 5th grade.  She came home and said, “Yeah, I already knew all that,” just the way I was hoping.  Since we’ve talked to her since she was a little girl, she knew the basics and was not surprised.  I think that was the perfect combination of home and school education.

    • Maria – Tough Cookie Mommy

      Karen, it is obvious that you implemented a plan for this discussion that allowed you to cover all of the bases.  Your daughter most likely felt empowered with information once she realized that you had already addressed this topic with her personally.  This arms her to disseminate between accurate facts that she is taught by educators and the things that she is told by her peers.

  • Mariana

    This one’s a real tough one. To give you an example, my daughter was sexually active at a young age but my son was only interested in video games and friends until the day he graduated from high school. I’m glad she had another source other than her mother to learn about sex, but my son could care less about sex or sex education. I think it should be optionally taught in middle school and that choice to teach or not to tech should always be given to the parents.

    • Maria – Tough Cookie Mommy

      Hi, Mariana.  Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences with your own children to the discussion.  You are absolutely right that all children develop at a different rate and this is definitely something to consider when addressing such a serious topic.  You raise some very good points.