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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sex Ed, Yes; Birth Control Ed, Maybe

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released a new report detailing the provision of sex education to teenagers. The CDC website highlighting the report emphasizes the finding that 97 percent of teen respondents to the survey indicate that they have received sex education from someplace, whether at school, church, community center or another setting. However, a more disturbing finding is that of all the things that are discussed in sex education classes, birth control seems to be discussed less than the others: 

  • Ninety-two percent of male and 93% of female teenagers reported being taught about STDs and 89% of male and 88% of female teenagers reported receiving instruction on how to prevent HIV/AIDS.
  • A larger percentage of teenagers reported receiving formal sex education on “how to say no to sex” (81% of male and 87% female teenagers) than reported receiving formal sex education on methods of birth control. 
  • Male teenagers were less likely than female teenagers to have received instructions on methods of birth control (62% of male and 70% female teenagers).
Even though the teenage birth rate is now lower than it used to be, teens still account for about one in ten births in the United States. That percentage is especially problematic because nearly 90 percent of births to teenagers in the United States occur outside of marriage, meaning that the lives of the mother and the children are going to be negatively impacted in ways that neither may ever overcome. A little more birth control education among teens could go a long way.


  1. When are we going to get the message that abstinence is NOT the answer. People are going to have sex and teens are going to have sex so the best (most realistic) thing we can do is to teach them about safe ways to have sex. This includes methods to not ruin their life and the life of another new human being by having a child at that age (birth control). In my eyes, much of this abstinence shit in the classroom is pushed by politicians because they are too afraid to lose votes from the religious majority by advocating safe sex and birth control education (which would be the right thing to do).

  2. In regards to the September 18th posting, Sex Ed, Yes; Birth Control Ed, Maybe:
    I found this article interesting since the statistics described were very similar to my sexual education experience in school. As I remember the main themes included anatomy, STD’s and their symptoms, and that abstinence was the only for sure way not to contract an STD or become pregnant. There was almost no coverage of how to prevent pregnancy or STD’s. While the statement of abstinence being the only for sure way to prevent either is true, it is not a very useful teaching tool since so many teens obviously ignore the argument. It seemed the schools were more interested in scaring students away from sex with stories of STDs and failed birth control than they were with actually giving good info on which forms of protection and birth control work best. Looking back I’m somewhat surprised of my experience seeing as how I grew up in Southern California an area that tends to be pretty liberal. It also makes we wonder how poor sex education must be in more conservative areas like the south or the mid-west.

  3. It is great to see that 97% of teens have received sex education from a different source other than their parents. I believe it is important that teenagers have other resources to go to besides their parents. I also agree that sex education, at least in public schools, focus more on abstinence and preventing STD’s/AIDS and less on condoms and birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Based on my own daughter’s sex education experience, the school actually gave them a banana and a condom and proceeded to show them how to put a condom on using the banana, but did not discuss a condom as a form of birth control or did not show pictures or provide a sample of birth control pills as additional protection for the girl to prevent pregnancy. I do not consider this to be well-rounded curriculum for sex education.
    Also, the finding that male teenagers were less likely than female teenagers to have received instructions on methods of birth control (62% of male & 70% female) didn’t surprise me. I believe that this is due to our society’s mentality that it is always the girl’s responsibility for birth control.
    Although the numbers of births by teens have decreased, teens’ having one out of ten births in the US is still too high. It also doesn’t help when we have television reality shows that tend to glorify having a child at a young age, when in reality it is the hardest challenge a young girl can face even with support of her family. I do agree that more birth control education is needed in this country for both girls and boys.