According to ABC News on May 5, a Texas high school is reporting a chlamydia outbreak among its students. Chlamydia is the most common STD in the U.S. It can be prevented with condoms. This particular high school offers no sex education courses. Is the lack of information to blame?
Chlamydia is caused by bacteria. It is passed between sexual partners with no barrier method in place, i.e. a condom. It is treated with antibiotics, according to the National Institutes of Health. However, many who get the disease have no symptoms at all. In women, chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, liver inflammation, and affect a woman’s later childbearing ability.
There have been three cases reported in two weeks. School officials are bracing for more as health officials have seven days to make a disease report.
The school in question currently does not offer “a course in human sexuality.” The policy at the school is that even were such a course to be offered, parents can opt their children out. That’s all well and good if parents are shouldering the burden to inform their children about sexually transmitted diseases. If they’re not and there is no program in school, not even a safe sex program, where do teens get the information they need to know?
Just telling a teen not to have sex doesn’t work. It didn’t work in my parents’ generation, it didn’t work in my generation, and it’s apparently not working with today’s kids. Abstinence may always be best but it’s pie in the sky, especially in a society where sex oozes from every television program, movie and magazine.
Today’s kids need reliable, factual information. Senior medical contributor for ABC News and practicing OB/GYN physician Dr. Jennifer Ashton says half of her patients are women under 21 years old. “The factual knowledge regarding [sexually transmitted infections] is generally poor,” she said, adding that it prompted her to write a book, “The Body Scoop for Girls.”
“Reproductive health or sex ed courses have enormous variability in their content and teaching approach. Factors such as geographic region, school district and teacher beliefs/comfort with this subject matter all come into play,” Ashton noted.
“Abstinence only may sound ideal but it’s not realistic,” Ashton said. “And in theory, better education reduces adverse outcomes.”
Kids need information. If they don’t get it at home, they need to get it in school. Without some type of information on safe sex practices, we will likely see more of these outbreaks. Are classes and parental information foolproof? No, they are not. But if someone doesn’t try, more teenagers will suffer the damage from STDs.
So who is to blame for the chlamydia outbreak at a Texas high school? Is it the parents who are shirking their responsibilities to teach their children? Is it the school who doesn’t offer sex ed? Or is it both? Even a basic safe sex course might have stopped this.