Time To Grow Up America

Illustration By Allison Slenker

Illustration By Allison Slenker

As much progress as Americans have made in how they discuss sex, there are still areas that lack progress, such as sexual education. We've even progressed in how we treat violent media, even though we've taken some steps back in some cases. But I find it ridiculous how our country cannot properly set a standard for both.

American sexual education is terrible. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization devoted to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States, only 24 states are mandated to teach about sex. Some states can choose whether or not teach sex ed, and when they do, they do it in detrimental ways. For example, out of the 24 states that have to teach sex ed, only 13 states legally require the curriculum to be medically accurate, and only two states prohibit the promotion of religion during sex ed.

Additionally, 36 states allow parents to opt-out their children from sex education, 12 states are required to talk about sexual orientations, 27 states stress the importance of abstinence, eight states are required to be culturally appropriate and unbiased, and only 18 states must provide information on contraception methods.

According to a report by the European Parliament Policy Department C about the implementation of sexual education in schools, they found that kids learn about sex through other sources like mass media. Instead of children learning about sex in safe environments like school, they're learning about sex from the internet.

Furthermore, there's the high amount of violence America seems to let pass.

Before anything, let me say this: there is nothing wrong with violent content so long as we're still capable of telling between fiction and reality. I've even had to defend my own love of video games like Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat. My problem isn't how violent the content is, but with how much we are willing to allow and how we treat it compared to something like sex.

Take the "Hunger Games" for example, where the main character takes her younger sister's place to fight other kids in brutal battle royale to the death. The movie was rated PG-13, so you'd think that the violence would be toned down. Granted, there's not a lot of blood and gore, just a lot of stabbing, cutting, impaling, and neck snapping. It is a movie, it does have different liberties and standards when it comes to what kind of content is acceptable.

So we look towards other kinds of media like television, which, when it comes to children, has become more restrictive. First off, not many action-oriented shows are produced, and even if shows do involve action, it leans more towards comedy. For example, "Henry Danger," where the titular character becomes a sidekick to a superhero, and while there are plenty of brawls to be had, the show makes constant jokes even during the more dramatic moments.

Essentially, we've grown up and we're starting to treat violence with more maturity, but we haven't fully extended that to sexual content.

When there are arguments against something like sexual education, ranging from "for the children," or "it should be taught by parents," we often picture sex as some sort of taboo. We hide what is generally accepted as a natural part of life and constantly shame those who want to portray those moments. We should extend the progress we've made on topics like violence in media to sex, so we are able to tell what is suitable to show and who is allowed to watch.