Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Filling the Gap: Teenagers Seek Out Own Sex Education

Earlier this month, The New York Times published an article outlining a multitude of state-funded organizations that specialize in anonymously answering sexually related inquiry texts posed by curious and otherwise uniformed teenagers. This is one of the newest attempts to reach young persons who are self-seeking sexual education. The participating organizations ensure that a “competent,” educated adult provides an unbiased, medically sound response to sex questions posited by inquiring teenagers.

These questions range from the basic (“If you take a shower before you have sex, are you less likely to get pregnant?”) to the more alarming (“If I was raped when I was little and just had sex, was it technically my first time when I was raped or when I recently had sex?”). Answers must fit the following guidelines: “No medical advice — urge questioners to speak with a doctor. Do not advocate abortion.”

While some see this as a means for educating America’s youth about activities in which they may already be participating, others view such actions as contradictory to the abstinence-only education policies upheld by many states. Many of the anonymous texters who answer those posed questions are continually alarmed by the indoctrinated ignorance. One respondent admits that “Girls and boys alike ask about anal intercourse: Will it prevent pregnancy? Let a girl remain a virgin?”

Though there is much controversy regarding the validity of this service, I feel that until all states offer comprehensive sex education and/or parents take a more active role in educating their children, it will be necessary for young people to fill in the remaining gaps. The development of sexuality can take a lifetime of questioning and exploration, and a texting service that provides unbiased answers to some of the questions plaguing today’s youth is but one means for allowing a healthy maturing experience.

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