April is sexual assault awareness month. In a society constantly confronted with the harsh realities of sexual assault, we need to be more proactive on the matter. We can start by drastically changing the way in which we discuss sex. This change can be implemented through an upgrade and modification of our nation’s standardized sexual education.
Coming from varying cultural and religious backgrounds, our collective understanding and in-classroom teaching of general sex-ed is in no way consistent. For some, sex-ed was crammed into a weeklong mini-lecture series taught by a school counselor who most likely had no formal training on the matter.
Maybe your sex-ed class was a part of your gym credits in high school, hurriedly taught in a cramped classroom by a gym teacher who knew just as much as you did of the technicalities and realities of informed sexual education. Or possibly, your school didn’t even offer a sex-ed course, operating under the thought that abstinence and avoidance are the best forms of contraceptives. The point being, the public, private and home-schooled, school systems and curriculum we grew-up in put no collaborative effort in teaching the actualities of sexual education. Despite differences on opinion of the subject, comprehensive sex education would benefit us as a society.
By not having effective and productive conversations early on about safe sex, true consent and healthy relationships, we continue to set ourselves up to be an ill-informed society, operating under the false assumption that ignorance is bliss. In fact, it is this very ignorance which can cause problems.
About 750,000 teenagers become pregnant every year, people within the age range of 15- 24 make up for 25 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S and make up for half of the average 19 million STD infections every year in the U.S, according to The Future of Sex Education Initiative.
An alarming number of states do the bare minimum when it comes to mandating curriculum of sex-ed. According to state legislature, only 10 states, and the District of Columbia, include discussion of healthy relationships, consent or sexual assault in their sex-ed programs.
More discouraging is that some states require “abstinence only” courses to be taught in schools. While abstinence is a valid and the only 100% effective method of preventing pregnancy and spread of diseases, it’s not what everyone chooses, giving reason for more inclusive and comprehensive education on various safe sex methods as well as healthy, healthy, consensual relationships.
Without proper education on healthy relationships, developing teenagers miss out on the importance of communication, conflict management and negotiation. These are all skills we cannot guarantee are being taught at home, increasing the need to bridge the gap between instilled upbringings and a standardized education.
Outside of the educational system, varying home lives and upbringings shape how we view relationships and sex. This only reaffirms the need for clear, non-biased education on the matter. By having a common understanding, having honest conversations about what a healthy relationship looks like, what consent truly is, what sexual assault really is and the lasting effects of such a horrible act, we as a society can finally admit to the ignorance of not being taught these basic concepts from the very beginning.
Despite thorough, scientific and social understanding of sex as an act itself, the general public knowledge of it is hindered by an archaic education system which is far too rooted in religious, sociocultural and political motivations.
As college students, we see this discrepancy in understanding every day through our peers’ varying perceptions and opinions about sex. At a collegiate level however, all hope isn’t lost in proper education. Berry could offer a standardized sex-ed course as a kinesiology credit your freshmen year. The benefits of this would be ensuring students, early on in their four years at Berry, receive the information needed, in a classroom setting, to be informed about relationships, sexually active or not. We already are required to attend “Can I Kiss You?” during Viking Venture. Expounding on that desire to create a well-informed, more educated campus could only benefit our culture and safety.
The Carrier’s editorial opinion represents the views of the senior members of the Campus Carrier and Viking Fusion news staff.