At what age should kids get sex education?

I just finished reading an article on stating that Hispanics continue to have the largest teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. A myriad of factors are to blame, including lack of education about pregnancy, not having the means to procure contraceptives, parents finding the subject too taboo to discuss with their kids at a young age, and so on.

However, a high incidence of teen pregnancy isn't exclusive to the Latino community in the U.S. -- it's prevalent across all racial groups. Take all the reality shows on MTV that center on teen pregnancy, like "Teen Mom" and "16 and Pregnant."

I firmly believe that parents should begin having an earnest talk with their kids about sex in their last year of elementary school. In fact, I remember taking a human growth and development course in the 5th grade, but talk of birth control and pregnancy was scant at best.

We all know what happens once kids hit middle school: they hit puberty. Their hormones begin raging and many are faced with peer pressure to do as much with someone of the opposite sex as they can. Games like Truth or Dare and Spin the Bottle become favorite pastimes of young teenagers.

It's critical that these teenagers be educated on the ways to avoid pregnancy. For starters, it should be impressed on them that they shouldn't even be having sex before graduating from high school. Their sole focus during these years should be on getting excellent grades so that they can get into a good college.

Unfortunately, many kids aren't capable of keeping it in their pants that long. No matter how overprotective parents may try to be, these relentless teenagers will find a way to have sex -- plain and simple. That's why it's imperative that parents teach their kids the perils of having kids at such an early age. They should realize that using birth control can spare them an adolescence rife with hardship.

It's no surprise that the quality of one's life diminishes when they have a child before they're ready to -- mentally, emotionally, and financially. It's incumbent on parents to educate their kids, but teenagers ought to do their part as well. If they still proceed to have unprotected sex even after knowing the consequences of doing so, they've brought the ensuing challenges on themselves.

What's your take on this issue?

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