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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