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Sex Ed 101: How Much is Too Much? (page 2)

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Updated on Apr 18, 2012

Abstinence Plus Education

  • Details. This method promotes abstinence as the best option, but also offers information on contraceptives and STI testing should teens decide to engage in sex. Plus, the curriculum welcomes discussion about tricky sexual subjects, including abortion and HIV.
  • Pros. The emphasis on abstinence makes it clear that avoiding intercourse is the only 100 percent reliable way to prevent pregnancy, and that having sex is something that always carries a risk, even if teens protect themselves with birth control and condoms. If your child decides not to stick to abstinence after sex ed, at least she'll have an understanding of how to contraception works, so she can avoid any unintended consequences.
  • Cons. Since abstinence is touted as the best option, a high-schooler who decides to lose her virginity may feel guilty, and want to keep it a secret. As a result, she'll be less likely to ask for condoms, birth control or help when she needs it.

Comprehensive Education

  • Details. The goal of comprehensive sex-ed is to get your kid as much knowledge as possible, and urge her to protect herself if she decides sex is right for her. Detailed information about contraceptives and STI testing is offered, as well as open dialogue about how to decide if she's emotionally ready for sex.
  • Pros. If your teen decides to have sex, she's well-versed in how to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancy. Having a clear understanding of the risks involved can make her more cautious and better prepared if she does decide it's the right time for her. Case in point: a recent report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy actually cites Teen Mom as a major contributor to 2009's dramatic drop in teen birthrates. A comprehensive education may also make your teen feel more comfortable talking about sex, and less awkward about asking you or other trusted adults for advice.
  • Cons. In having sex information so readily available, your teen may begin to think sex is something that everyone's doing, or that it isn't a big deal. As a result, she may feel pressured to have sex before she's physically or emotionally ready. Additionally, regardless of how well teens protect themselves, having sex always carries the risk of STD's or unwanted pregnancy.

In addition to thinking through the options above, learn which type of sex ed is offered at your teen's school. If you're unhappy with the current curriculum, consider supplementing the school's teachings at home, or asking other parents if they're interested in pushing for a change. Regardless of which option you choose, the important thing is that you have a plan in place. In showing your teen that you've done your research and thought through the options, you're already one big step closer to teaching her to be responsible about sex.

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