My fieldwork was performed in Houston, “seat of Harris County, Texas, is located on the upper Gulf coastal plain at 9522' West and 2946' North, 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. The City of Houston lies in three counties: Harris (583.450 sq.mi.), Montgomery (2.598 sq.mi.), and Fort Bend (8.080 sq.mi.). Harris County contains part or all of 35 incorporated areas” (Online geographical recourse). “According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of 656.3 square miles (1,700 km2). Houston population in 2010 consisted of 1953631 people, where male population was about 975551 (49.94%) and female – 978080 (50.06%)” (Pubs journals). There is a percentage parity of nationalities in the attachment. Obviously, the population is very different and that makes social environment multicolored. However, the city’s infrastructure represent a great number of cultural, educational, sporting, social, medical establishments and organizations that have a positive effect on physical and social environment of the population.
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I decided to work on the very serious issues that were the prevention of unintended pregnancies, abortions and decreasing rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) among teenagers in Houston. That all is closely connected with the project Healthy People 2020 and local public health data of the USA that has the aim to create healthy environment among the population and reduce different kinds of diseases.
Unwanted pregnancy and STD are both the main issues that Healthy People 2020 put on the foreground. An unintended pregnancy means a pregnancy that is untimely, not planned, or unwanted. Cases of unintended pregnancy often happen among teenagers and mainly are the results of low sexual knowledge about the effective contraceptive methods. The risk for mother and baby is rather high when the pregnancy is unintended.
Statistics shows that nowadays the situation about the spreading number of teen pregnancies is deplorable. In California, for example, about 50 thousand of teens, ages 15-19, became parents of 20041 children. In San Bernardino County, it has been registered 48 births for every thousand of 15-19 years old woman in 2005. The highest rate of birth is among Latinas and makes 67, 3 babies for every 1000 teens. The popularization of sex relations on TV influenced the teenager’s attitude towards sex, thus many youth practice unprotected sex that of course lead to another vital problem of the mankind – the raise rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STD). In 2005, there were resistered more than one million of new cases of STD among teens in Houston, where 1 in 4 teens, ages 14 to 19, have an STD (Public Schools Project).
As the population of Houston is rather multicolored and is represented by a 16% of teens aged 15-24, the discussed question becomes of a vital importance. Statistics shows that most cases of unwanted pregnancies and cases of sexually transmitted diseases are most common among teenagers of the given age category and of low educational level. “The proportion of pregnancies that were unintended was higher among teens younger than age 15 years” (Mosher, Jones, & Abma, 2012). It can be explained by the difficult situation in the sphere of sexual health education in the country that is the part of the government health concern program.
The government developed a plan that has family planning goals and was established in Healthy People 2020. Its aimis to improve pregnancy planning, to space, and prevent unintended pregnancy. This kind of work should be done in order to reduce rate of the unintended pregnancy that includes rise of contraception strategy, popularization of correct and constant use of contraceptive methods among sexually active people who do not want or are not ready to become parents.
Here we are to discuss two central problematic questions that are to be solved on the state level that lead to not correct teenager’s upbringing. Further, the both ones are linked with sex education and are to be directed on the reducing abortion rates and STDs among youth in the USA. As the roots of these problems leave in education and upbringing of a responsible and moral nation, we should concentrate our attention on the necessity for sexual health education in U.S. high schools, taking into consideration close work of educational, public and medical establishments. Thus, this question is still open because many of educational establishments still have not required sexual health education as an obligatory subject because of the different reasons. However, these steps are of great importance as it should possibly be the only reasonable method to bring up moral, self sufficient and healthy nation.
The government only made requirements as to the policy of upbringing a sexual educated young generation but still schools can decide individually weather to include sexual health education it their year curriculum or not.
Each year students are to study information about different methods of protection “sexual and reproductive health from unintended pregnancy and STDs” (Landry, Darroch, Singh, & Higgins, 2004). This will help teenagers develop appropriate well attitudes about young person growth and development, image of a body, roles of male and female, sexual orientation, and creation of a family.
According to the Educational Code, specially trained instructors in factual, objective and medically accurate manner should teach sexual health education. It will give information about all “methods of contraception and STD prevention approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)” (Public Schools Project). Obviuosly, this kind of education does not just supply the students on information relating to the behavior in sex relations but strictly supports the moral norms of abstinence-until-marriage education.
The Department of Education improved the standards of sexual health education, by means of releasing new standards that specify the kind of information at each grade level.
That all sounds very convincingly, but the facts still prove the opposite. Therefore, that means something is not correct in the sexual educational policy. Firstly, youth has a basic human right to get precise and objective sex education that, of course, includes pieces of knowledge condoms and other types of contraception. This without any doubt will help teenagers diminish risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (Hauser, 2004). In addition, it helps youth create stable and quality relationships and build up skills about correct decision-making. However, sexual health education is not just of schools responsibilities. The majority of medical and public health organizations, especially parents must also fulfill the task of correct sexual education.
Secondly, there exist problems that are related to the federal policy that spent a great amount of findings on non-effective sexual health plan. The point is that sexual educational programs were written without any hint on youth’s basic human rights in not accurate and balanced manner. It seems that abstinence-only programs are used as a gear of any sexual activity prevention for all unmarried people. But, if take into consideration that there are cases when teens are engaged or even have long lasting stable relations, that becomes without purpose.
Undeniably, these programs must specify exclusive purpose and not just promote the risks of sex relations outside of marriage or discuss contraception. Furthermore, this all must be fulfilled in a form of an accurate and correct narration that leaves the choice for a teen.
The methods that can convince a person to be provident and reasonable since sexual relations can be different. Moreover, funding should be spent on the special edification of teachers who will conduct the health courses at schools and other educational establishments. Another part of funding is to be spent on a development of an effective core curriculum that will be obligatory in each state. That also needs technological, media and literary support.
Aso, it is well known that forbidden fruit is sweeter, that suits the discussed case. Therefore, in order to maintain a productive sexual educational plan in high schools, a versatile program should be written. Further, it must be worked out with the help of scientific researches in teen’s physiology, different medicine works and social studies. The data concerning the most frequent factors that influence the teen’s decision to start adult life with sexual relations must be gathered and analyzed. Life examples are also to be included in the lessons. The course must be structured as recommendations and not as the order not to have sexual relations. On the contrary, some specific value should be given to such relations and it should be explained according to the moral and law.
To make a conclusion, it must be underlined that the idea of sexual health education is very purposeful. Thus, it must be improved and hold not just lessons at school but a unite work of parents, educational, medical, public organization, media and government. Except of educational methods, it is also very imperative to develop the strategies that will be supported by the mass media campaigns that are able to discourage unprotected sex. Effective methods are also evidence-based teenager’s pregnancy prevention programs. There also must be a great work of family planning services, but first they are to be popularized and expanded in public. That all becomes possible with the good point support among all levels of government and public officials, who will make investments in the following strategies.
The solution of the unintended pregnancy problem among the youth leaves in a highly qualified sexual education that will have in its goal the popularization of contraception and accurate explanation of its need, the elucidation of “the role of intentions in contraceptive use and fertility” (Santeli et al., 2003). If to give a good and complete explanation of pregnancy intentions, it becomes possible to improve public health and help clinics establish effective programs that are directed to a preventing unintended pregnancy. In addition, the work should be done concerning individual level approaches that are to be worked out in order to change the attitude of male and female partners towards pregnancy and sexual relations.