Why Miami-Dade Needs Sex Ed

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Emilie Santirzo

TERRA's senior BeHIP program mentors. The program is one of the steps the county has taken into educating our youth.

Justin Pradere, Editor in Chief

From both a scientific and evolutionary standpoint, sex is one of the most natural things humans do―teenagers included. But the issue at hand is not so much a debate over whether or not teenagers should have sex, but more so over the way, they are doing it. Unsafe, unprotected and uneducated sex contributes to the high statistics of pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases in Miami-Dade County and begs for the implementation of sexual education in the curriculum.

According to the CDC, Miami-Dade County ranks number one in teenage pregnancies in the state of Florida, and HIV rates in the state have increased every year since 2012, while the nation’s overall rates have decreased.

In recent years, Governor Rick Scott proposed a budget plan that included spending cuts for hospitals and public health care programs. As a result, Florida’s statistics of teenage pregnancies and STDs have been on the rise; as budgets shrink, infections spread. “I feel the more educated the population is, the better the decisions [about public health spending] can be made,” junior Isis Gonzalez said.

Since 2008, public high schools in Florida no longer have health education classes due to a change in the graduation requirements. Consequently, the Miami-Dade County School District offers no health education classes in its high schools, leading to a disconnect between health education and health access. Too often, students do not know where to go to find health resources in their schools and in their communities. The school district has taken a small, yet significant, step to addressing this problem. The Health Information Project (BeHIP) covers important issues facing today’s teenagers such as substance abuse, bullying, and sex. The program has been implemented in 56 schools throughout the county, including TERRA. BeHIP’s approach to these topics is through eight one-hour sessions taught by juniors and seniors who use interactive methods to inform the underclassmen. Junior BeHIP mentor Emilie Santirzo said, “We go into more detail about some topics that are briefly discussed in school, so the freshmen learn more and are usually enthusiastic about learning the new information.” However, BeHIP may not be the most effective method of sex education because of the fact that it is taught by students, not professionals, as some information may be misconstrued by the underclassmen.

“I think Miami-Dade County should implement sex ed because it will significantly benefit the health and safety of the students,” junior Brianna Nuñez said. “With this class, the unanswered questions and confusion that the majority of kids have nowadays will greatly disseminate.”

A sexually uneducated individual may not know what measure to take in preventing pregnancy and transmitting infections. The teenagers of this generation are exposed to endless amounts of online information, much of which may be misleading and dangerous. “It should be integrated with P.E., and they should educate us more on this topic,” Isis Gonzalez said.

The argument regarding implementing sexual education into our school system is generally divided among the premise of who is responsible for providing teenagers with “the talk,” as it can interfere with religious beliefs. However, the curriculum by no means encourages anyone to become sexually active. According to Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (ReCAPP), in 2013, 47 percent of high school students reported having sexual intercourse. An individual sexual education class should be implemented to the upperclassmen, as they enter sexual relationships at this point in their lives and are prone to STIs as most of them do not know the dangers of unprotected sex. The purpose of sexual education focuses around not only preparing today’s teenagers for events they will inevitably encounter, but guiding them through dealing with sensitive subjects.