Why Sex Education is Important

Socioeconomic status can lead into teenage pregnancy that which can affect ones higher education

Out of all the things I utterly loathe, waking up and rolling out of bed early in the morning for something I completely have no interest in is definitely on top of that list. I was raised in a small desert town, where no one really “got out”. The majority of people who graduate from Indio or Coachella never really “leave”, they tend to just go to the local community college get their AA and stay in the valley and work for endlessly and tirelessly majority of their life. Indio is just a small part of the Coachella Valley, the valley consists of 9 towns which are Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage and Palm Springs. The valley mostly consist of Hispanics, majority of Hispanics live in the towns of Indio and Coachella. Most residents from these two towns are and or come from low economic status’.

Growing up primarily in Indio, I lived around low income households and neighborhoods and got to meet people who forever made me realize how that something that is small can be massive. Since Indio was just a “small” town of the valley I got to grow up with a group of close friends, starting from elementary and throughout high school. Most of us were not “poor” but also we weren’t “rich”. Most of our families didn’t go to college and wanted us to be the ones to seek higher education right after high school. Our parents were the definition of a stereotypical Hispanic parent. They didn’t tolerate most of our bullshit. If we didn’t graduate high school we had to start looking ways to support ourselves without them, if we got pregnant as a teenager it was sorta our problem and we have to figure something out. They expected us to learn from school. They try to engrave in our brain that without higher education, were most likely to struggle in life.

During my junior year of high school, life hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the year were one of my close friends had gotten pregnant and it was also they year where I needed to start thinking about how I wanted to live later on in life. When my friend had announced she was pregnant my first thought was “bruh”, she was 17 and really had no way to support herself and her child to be, her and her family were struggling financially and had no way to provide for a newborn. She was someone who wanted to seek higher education just because he parents didn’t since it was something they couldn’t achieve. She stayed in school for like about two months and then she dropped out and completely stopped her education path there. Her biggest struggle not surprisingly was how to be financially stable for her and her child.She didn’t have emotional/financial support from her family since she complicated her life and did the exact opposite of what her family expected. She didn’t have the money and health insurance to have a abortion. Her child’s father and boyfriend at the time left her the first couple of months after she gave birth and gave her the burden of raising a child on her own. She made me realize how its just life and with education you it makes one want to deconstruct this cycle of being trapped economically.

Teenage childbirth are more common among families that come from the low income spectrum. Low income, teenage mothers usually live in places with a high level of inequality. Teenage pregnancy is a problem because it’s a situation of “children” raising children. Young teens having babies really early in life very often are not able to finish school. This hinders, their upward social mobility, their children growing up in deprived social circumstances too. In the article “Teen Pregnancy and poverty” Ayres states “1 in 4 young mothers will go on a welfare benefit program within three years of their child being born. Being a teen mother also means having less access to educational programs, which ultimately affects their ability to provide later on in life”. This doesn’t mean that a person automatically gets in the welfare program after their child is born or that they have less access to educational programs. This means the socioeconomic status of your parents may be a determining factor whether you continue the pregnancy without having to go on welfare and having educational barriers.

A common educational barrier many teenage mothers face is the lack of child care they can find or afford while trying to go back to school to finish their degree. This is a problem because, as a teenager who comes from low income, buying any form of birth control is sometimes too expensive and going to school is challenging without any sort of help. They can’t have luxurious things like having a nanny or affording daycare that teenage mothers who are brought up in higher income can have. Also, in the article ‘Let it shine: Promoting school success, life aspirations to prevent school-age parenthood’ Dr. Carol Cassell, a nationally recognized leader in the field of sexuality and well known through her nation-wide research, explains that “Young women who come from advantaged families generally have abortions”(8). This supports the fact that the privileged and wealthy can be a massive contribution to one’s pregnancy and future. White families, are usually families that come with assets and wealth, while hispanic and african americans families usually are not. Many low income families come from single parent households and the teens rarely see their parents, much less talk to them about their lives.

In “Factors That Promote High School Graduation: A Review of the Literature.” writer Jonathan Zaff explains how important high school is and how it prepares one for higher education and other positive outcomes in one’s young life. The pathway to graduation is a dynamic between the individual and their surroundings. Parents have a very important influence on whether their teenagers become pregnant or not. They are powerful and they can use this in guiding their children, but life in a modern society has a big role to play in the occurrences of teenage pregnancies. The days when parents were so dedicated in raising their children are gone, and they were so interested in protecting their children from disgrace and preventing any activity that will destroy their future.

Today, the situation isn’t the same, many parents of teenage mothers dedicate the greater part of their day to provide money, so they take care of the home and their family. Majority of parents, today, concentrate on the financial needs of the child, rather than the emotional and sex educational needs. Many parents, ignore their responsibility of educating the child sexually, but always leave it in the hands of their teachers.There is not a lot of school education on teen pregnancy in low income school systems, so a lot of teens do not know the effects of having unprotected sex. These schools expect the teenagers parents to be able to teach them basic parenting skills. If schools were teaching about childcare and prevention, you’ll have a significant number of teen pregnancies go down. A research study from Kathryn Kost and Stanley Henshaw from, Guttmacher Institute states, “The rate of teenage pregnancy in the United States has declined to its lowest level in decades. Between 1990 and 2010 it decreased from 116.9 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15–19 to 57.4 per 1,000, a drop of 51 percent with educational programs” (3). First and foremost is education.

In today’s society there is an ongoing debate over sex education and its impact on teenagers. The question is no longer should sex education be taught, rather how it should be taught but it’s to learn about different forms of birth control for women and how to use them properly. Learn the failure rates, what can cause them to fail, and also what kind of methods can be used together. According to planned parenthood “The Obama administration transferred funds from the Community-based Abstinence Education Program and budgeted $114 million to support evidence based sex education programs across the country”(1). Showing that several studies have shown that young adults, levels of sexual activity have decreased or remained the same after sex education programs according to the American School Health Association. There are disagreements about the form that sexual education should take, said Laura Ault, communication coordinator for Planned Parenthood.

However, she added, ‘To say nothing is to teach nothing.’ There has been abstinence programs in schools to prevent teenage pregnancy but these programs aren’t really successful obviously. Although there are many good reasons to teach abstinence, there is of course, a great deal of controversy that comes with it especially in the communities throughout the U.S., as there would be with any kind of statement that shows a personal opinion. For example, “Abstinence-only education isn’t ‘education.” Abstinence is a voluntary restraint from indulging a desire for certain activities that are widely experienced as giving pleasure. Most frequently, the term refers to abstention from sexual intercourse. The practice can arise from religious prohibitions or practical considerations. The government shouldn’t be in the business of promoting an unrealistic and ineffective solution to adolescent sexual. Abstinence programs does not teach about contraception, condom use, they avoid discussions of abortion. They cite sexually transmitted diseases and HIV as reasons to remain abstinent. An abstinence-only program is not going to inform students of the best procedures to stay safe and healthy if they become sexually active. Students are much more informed when they gain knowledge through a comprehensive program. Raising awareness is not only educating people about what these type of things are but on how you acquire them and how to prevent yourself from acquiring such.

More knowledge is what brings about change, back home I’m involved with the boys and girls club with their program Big Brothers Big Sisters as a volunteer. This Program is to help children realize their potential and build their futures. You get assigned a “little” based on similar interests and most of the “littles” were children who come from a place of being highly disadvantage in just about every area of their life economically, socially, familially and educationally. As a big, you have the role of being someone’s need of guidance and role model, you weren’t and you most definitely didn’t need to be their parents. While volunteering with the program I got to experience having multiple littles, they were all girls since the program made bigs and littles be the same sex. They all taught me that if you have guidance in your life you can create this new cycle of “right” and set yourself up for something significant. Volunteerism, civic engagement and advocacy are the driving forces for creating change and making a positive impact in your community and society at large. Volunteering made me realize that in today’s world there’s million of people who are in aid of others. It makes me want to wake up every morning knowing that I can educate/guide someone who needs it. It ultimately showed me doing something so little in someone’s life can alter one’s future for the good or for the bad.

Works Cited

  • Ayres, Crystal. “Teen Pregnancy and Poverty.” Vittana.org, vittana.org/teen-pregnancy-and-poverty. Cassell, C. (2002).
  • Let it shine: Promoting school success, life aspirations to prevent school-age parenthood. SIECUS Report, 30(3), 7-12. Kost, Kathryn, and Stanley Henshaw. (2014).
  • U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2010: National and State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity. New York: Guttmacher Institute. [Online]. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/ USTPtrends10.pd, accessed May 12, 2014 PPFA — Planned Parenthood Federation of America. (2013).
  • Birth Control. New York: Planned Parenthood Federation of America. [Online]. http://www. plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control-4211.htm, accessed March 22, 2013.
  • Zaff, Jonathan, et al. “Factors That Promote High School Graduation: A Review of the Literature.” Educational Psychology Review, vol. 29, no. 3, Sept. 2017, pp. 447–476. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s10648-016-9363-5.