Lack Of Sex Education Increases Vulnerability To Sexual Assault

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Lack Of Sex Education

Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders on Wednesday at a Community Health Centers of Arkansassummit on health care said the lack of sex education in the nation is"deafening" and makes children vulnerable to sexual assault andsexually transmitted infections, AP/KUAR reports. She added that the nation is "paying a very heavy price for not educating our young people."

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Elderssaid to more than 200 people at the summit in Little Rock, Ark., thatabstinence-only sex education programs are unrealistic (AP/KUAR,8/16). "The reason" for high HIV and STI rates in "Southern states isbecause [Southern states] are less likely to have sex education andtalk about it as part of our schools and a part of our system," Elderssaid, adding that abstinence-only programs that do not teachcontraception will not solve the issue (Wiest, Arkansas News Bureau, 8/16).

In addition, Elders questioned criticism of Sen. Barack Obama(Ill.), who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, forsupporting programs teaching age-appropriate sex education to studentsbeginning in kindergarten. Elders said to reporters after her speech,"Certainly, we need to teach children in kindergarten that there arecertain places on their bodies nobody is to touch. If they do, theyneed to tell somebody." She added, "What has allowed so many sexpredators to come about and develop is this silence we made and havetaught our children."

Former President Clinton appointed Elders as surgeon general in 1993 (AP/KUAR,8/16). Elders was forced to resign in 1994 after making comments insupport of masturbation and condom distribution to help slow the spreadof HIV (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 8/1/02). According to the AP/KUAR, Elders in 1994 said that masturbation "perhaps should be taught" in schools to reduce the spread of STIs (AP/KUAR, 8/16).
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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Women's Health Policy Report, search thearchives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published forkaisernetwork.org,a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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