The Great Sex-Ed Debate

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Less than half of US schools meet the CDC’s recommendations for sexual education, and 70 percent of parents say they’re uncomfortable talking about the subject with their kids themselves. So what should our teens actually learn about sex?

“Some say abstinence-only education is not realistic, while others say comprehensive sex ed exposes students to too much, too soon,” says ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork. “So, should students be learning or more or less about sex?”

Joining The Doctors are Scott Phelps, who runs an abstinence-only curriculum, and Dorian Solat, who teaches comprehensive sex education. Scott explains, “We want young people to understand what abstinence until marriage is and let them make their own choice.” He adds, “Resisting sexual pressure helps them academically, and helps them prepare well for future marriage and family.”

Watch: At What Age Should You Talk to Children About Sex Education?

Scott adds that most high-school students are not sexually active and have not had sexual contact of any kind, according to CDC statistics.

Dorian counters that “It’s not realistic. 95 percent of people have sex before they’re married. Most of us don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.” She notes that the average age of marriage in the U.S. is 29 for men and 27 for women. “To ask teenagers … to wait sometimes 15 years, it’s not the real world.”

“I’m glad that we’re having this conversation,” says Dr. Stork. “Especially in a country where everyone acknowledges that there is not good, high-quality sex education in schools.”

Watch: Sex Ed: What's the Best Approach?

Dorian thinks she and Scott share many of the same hopes for their students. “I think we agree on the fundamental goals of being safe and being healthy and being happy and having satisfying long-term relationships.”

Dr. Stork wonders about younger kids. “They don’t in many cases even know about sex and what it means. Let’s talk about the younger kids for a minute.” Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra has a young daughter herself, and she worries about her getting the information she needs to be healthy and make good choices.

“I wish the two of you could go into schools, give your personal opinions, and the kids would learn so much more!” concludes Dr. Stork. “Some of the best sex education can occur in the home as well, and it’s never too early to have these discussions with your children. But we do need to improve sex education in schools!”

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