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Why the Health Curriculum Falls Short

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Cresskill is home to many bright and unique students. It is what helps make us one of the 100 best public schools in New Jersey. We have students who get straight As, varsity letters, art scholarships. You name it, and a Cresskill student has probably done it. Despite being such a small school, we are able to educate our student body and prepare them for immense success down the road. These are some of the many reasons as to why our school is great, but we are by no means perfect, specifically in the realm of sexual education.

Plain and simple, the Cresskill’s sexual education curriculum leads to students learning too little about sex too late in their lives, to really apply it to their own situations. The sexual education at Cresskill is taught at junior year, which is much too late, and fails to address current social issues that have become more prevalent with each passing day.

Many may think that sex is somewhat unattainable to the average teen, but in actuality many more teens engage in sexual activity than expected. Although the average person loses their virginity at 17, over 15 percent of teens are sexually active at 14 years old and younger. So why, then, is sexual education being taught in junior year when almost 15 percent have already become active? This is why it is absolutely crucial the curriculum be taught at a younger age. 15 percent may not seem like a huge number, but every student matters. If even one student is affected by not knowing the circumstances of engaging in sexual activity, then the school has failed in educating them, thus defeating the entire purpose of the curriculum itself. And it is not like freshmen and sophomores do not encounter sex in their everyday lives. A study conducted at the University of Georgia in 2003 found that 27 percent of advertisements in 5 leading magazines “used sex as a selling point”, up from only 15 percent in 1983 (Mulvey 6). That is a stark raise, and despite that study being conducted in 2003, it still holds true today. Teens in today’s world need extra security considering all the sexual images that bombard them through mass media. Teaching them the dangers of sex earlier can provide this security, for as Nelson Mandela famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

Not only is sexual education taught too late, but the curriculum also lacks information about important societal issues. For example, the curriculum fails to even address certain terms like rape culture and their meaning, let alone their negative impact on society. Rape culture is a term used to describe how society has “blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence” (“What Is Rape Culture?” 1). This term is crucial in the context of today’s sexual climate, and the curriculum’s inability to address it only hurts the students. Additionally, students should be learning about the dangers of unhealthy relationships and what it means to be a part of a healthy one. Studies show that “teens who suffer dating abuse are subject to long-term consequences like alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, thoughts of suicide, and violent behavior” which is a huge deal especially considering that a third of young people will be in an abusive relationship (“11 Facts About Teen Dating Violence” 3). The health curriculum also tends to deviate from teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity, two topics that have become more talked-about with the recent legalization of gay marriage. This deviation just leaves students confused and uninformed, and teaching them about these terms can help them understand what is happening around them in today’s world. Overall, the sexual education curriculum does not provide students with adequate insight on current and relevant topics in today’s world, thus harming them in the process.

 

Check out the following resources for more information:

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-teen-dating-violence

https://rewire.news/article/2014/03/25/golden-age-teen-sexual-responsibilty/

http://www.wavaw.ca/what-is-rape-culture/

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2649-sex-sells-more.html
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_education.html

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