Looking back on my early teen years I can safely say that my sex education lessons were to put it lightly, lacking. We pretty much put a condom on a cucumber, got shown a slideshow of STD's and that was it. At the time how was I to know that this was un-informing and no where near as much as we needed. At the time I took it with a pinch of salt, assuming that my teachers were providing me with all the education I needed.
However, as I've gotten older I've realised that there was so much more they should have told us. The debate usually suggests that the information you're not told by teachers, you will be told by parents. Now luckily for me, my parents told me everything I needed to know and answered any of my questions. But for many teenagers without easy going parents or without parents at all, this education does not exist.
Unwanted teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases arise from a lack of education. When teenagers are lacking any knowledge on safe sex, they will still be doing it, just in totally the wrong ways. For many parents and adults it can be hard letting go of their children and opening the door into adult knowledge. But its totally necessary for proper development.
As well as physical health issues, mentally its very damaging for a child to not be properly educated on sex. We are living in a society in which porn has fast become incredibly accessible. In a situation where a child's knowledge on sex is full of uncertainty, porn should not be the natural filler. In my opinion, porn creates a culture of not only shaming women and objectifying them, but encouraging sexual assault. For a teenager to watch porn following a lack of education on safe sex is mentally, extremely damaging.
My main issue with the sex education within schools is how heteronormative it is. It's just assumued that students are heterosexual. You'd think that with the societal progressions we've made, we as teenagers would be taught about sex between same sex couples. However during my sex education lessons, same sex relationships were never even mentioned. Even in cases where sex wasn't being discussed, it was just never brought up as an example of a relationship. I can't even begin to explain how damaging this is to young, impressionable teenagers, especially ones who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality. They'll have so many unanswered questions and none of them will be answered in these safe spaces that are dedicated to education.
For a teenager to be made to feel as if their relationships don't matter, is demoralising and hurtful. But also it's incredibly ignorant of the schooling system to assume same sex couples/gay students don't also need to receive the same levels of education regarding safe sex. These stigmas and prejudices need to be knocked down. It's a teacher's responsibility to provide the child with as much information as possible in order for them to make an informed and sensible decision regarding their bodies. The fact that same sex relationships are ignored and not talked about is harmful and sends completely the wrong message.
In general though, the conversations regarding sex amongst teenagers needs to be widened. Our society is progressing and moving forwards at a fast rate. Teenagers no longer require the same level of sex education as their parents received. They need more than ever before. If you want teenagers to be safe, you need to inform them how to go about being safe. It's not a shameful thing to talk about sex with teenagers, we need to break down these stigmas soon.
You can't simultaneously complain about the high rate of teenage pregnancies/sexually transmitted infections and also oppose the needed increase in sex education in schools. We need this education to combat these statistics. As I always say, ignorance's only solution is education.