Sex Education Must Provide More Than Abstinence

AbstinenceHere in Mississippi, public school children receive one of two forms of sex education: abstinence only or abstinence plus. Those are the only two options, and they are implemented district-by-district. Abstinence only is exactly what it sounds like; the "plus" in abstinence plus refers to the addition of information on contraceptives. State law explicitly prohibits any instruction about abortion as an option for ending an unwanted pregnancy.

I heard on the radio recently that the county in which I live recently decided to provide abstinence-only sex education to children in junior high and abstinence plus to children in high school. This sounds like a positive development for high school kids because it means that they will receive at least some reality-based sex education. But it is naive to think that the kids in junior high do not need access to the same information.

According to a new study of sexually active Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 by the Guttmacher Institute, knowledge of contraception is inversely related to risky sexual behavior. That is, the more information young adults receive about contraception, the less likely they are to engage in risky sexual behavior. Makes sense, doesn't it?

An obvious implication, at least to most of us in the reality-based community, is that we should do a better job of providing effective information to those in the highest risk groups. And that means those of us here in Mississippi. Teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are important problems here, problems which do not magically begin when someone reaches high school.

I am encouraged to see that high school kids in my county are going to receive at least some information on contraception, but I think that a mistake is being made with regard to the younger kids. They need access to this information too.

H/T to Think Progress

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