All posts edited by Madeline Ricchiuto.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sex Education in the US - A Summary

Sex education in the US has been an area of interest of mine for some time. When I was studying Social Justice at Rutgers I was curious to find out the correlation between sex education practices and results such as teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and transmission of other STI's. 

Looking at the recent CDC Surveillance report, I noted in another post that it seems that the South has a higher preponderance of HIV transmission. I also noted that there seems to be a correlation with the extensiveness of sex education (many southern states don't have mandatory sex education or STI prevention, or birth control methodologies taught). 
A report was released by the Guttmacher Institute that addresses the issue of Sex and HIV education in the US. The report provides many statistics. Did you know that of the 50 states only 22 mandate sex education? This is not to say that those who don't mandate it don't provide it; but its only mandatory in 22 states, meaning if the school so decides it could just stop providing such things.

Did you also know that 33 states mandate HIV education, and that only 20 mandate both sex and HIV education, and that 13 states only mandate HIV education? Again I find this interesting because in those states where these are not madated a school district could stop providing this information.

But this was not the most interesting part of the report to me. The report also contains information on what the required content is if Sex/HIV education is to be taught (so this includes states that don't mandate sex education but have districts who teach it anyway). 

In sex education classes, only 17 states require that information on contraceptives be provided (19 when the topic is HIV education) and 37 require that information on abstinence be provided (39 when the subject is HIV education)! So what about these 33 states that aren't required to teach about contraceptives? I know that they are still allowed but how why is it not required teaching? In those 37 states that require abstinence information be provided what about those that don't require contraception information? 

Does it not seem irresponsible to not give information on this? Teaching abstinence is important but teaching only abstinence in a world where it is increasingly more difficult to be someone who doesn't have sex (think bullying and marginalization), and heightened pressure to have sex?

The most shocking finding in the report is that of 50 states, only 12 require that information provided be medically accurate (one state, Michigan, states provided information cannot be "medically inaccurate"). I am proud to say I hail from one of the states that does require medical accuracy, New Jersey. Again I recognize that just because it isn't required doesn't mean that it is not being taught, but why should it not be required? Wouldn't it be a good safeguard? As the law currently stands a school district can provide medically inaccurate information to our nations youth about Sex and HIV. How is that 'education'? Is that not the definition of propaganda and essentially fear mongering?

You can read the full report here.

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