Exactly how young is too young for children to begin learning about sex? A recent survey conducted by the Alan Guttenmacher Institute found that over 50% of teens between the ages of fourteen and nineteen are sexually active. Even more shocking, of the teens polled that admitted to being sexually active, one out of every two admitted to being sexually experienced by the age of 14 (AGI par. 3). To counter this growing trend, over 93% of public schools have enacted some form of sex education to inform their students of their choices and the consequences that come with the decisions they make. The controversy lies not in whether or not sex education should be administered, but at what age? Currently, some schools are administering sex education to children as young as the fourth grade. Most sex education courses provide fundamental information pertaining to sex; the physiology behind it and the risks that follow risky sexual behavior. Parents argue that exposing a nine of ten year old to sex tarnishes their innocence and may heighten their curiosity. However, these parents neglect to realize that the children of this generation are constantly bombarded by sexual depictions on television, in magazines, and on the radio. Sex education should begin in the preadolescent to early adolescent stages of a child's life because with or without sex education, a child will be exposed to sex through the media, entertainment, and their peers.
There has been countless research conducted on middle school and high school students to study their sexual behavior. One such study concentrated on the affects of sex education on high school and middle school children. In this study, conducted by Brown University, researchers found that sex education had more of a lasting impression on middle school children than high school students. The students were studied over a course of forty-two weeks, and at the end of the study, researchers found that middle school students were less likely to engage in sexual activities than the high school students.