SEX ED: Important to Maintain the ‘Ideal of Individual Choice’
Given the "increasing numbers of teenage pregnancies and a rising incidence of sexually transmitted diseases," David Archard, director of the Centre of Moral Philosophy and Public Affairs at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, writes in the London Independent that a "clearly specified and well-resourced sex and relationships education can and should play its part in ameliorating the current unacceptable situation." He notes that children are educated "within a society which is sexualized and yet, at the same time, deeply confused about its understanding of childhood and sexuality. Any sex education must acknowledge these social realities. Otherwise it will not be taken seriously by young people, who will receive mixed messages about sex or detect adult hypocrisy." Arguing that sex education does not promote sexual activity among teens or "corrupt youthful innocence," Archard points out four basic moral and political principles to consider when forming policy on sex ed: governments should not favor any particular moral or religious view; governments should recognize the differences between each religious faith and culture; parents have a right to decide what their children should be taught; and the abilities of youth should be identified and promoted in their development into citizens. Archard maintains that "it is no solution to opt for an SRE which avoids moral controversy by eschewing moral content, nor one which assumes that there are some very fundamental moral precepts all can agree on, nor one which simply preaches abstinence." Instead, an SRE should be "consistent with the liberal ideals which underpin education in general," and thus "educate for sexual choice" (Archard, Independent, 9/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.