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More Comprehensive Sex Education Programs Needed

Armen Hareyan's picture

Although abstinence messages are effective for some teenagers "who embrace [their] religious roots or who choose to abstain for other reasons," they should not be the "centerpiece for any state's sexual education policy" because such messages "wor[k] only for some" teens, Abigail Jones and Marissa Miley, co-authors of Restless Virgins: Love, Sex, and Survival at a New England Prep School, write in a USA Today opinion piece.

According to Jones and Miley, a study published earlier this year in Public Health Reports found that three-fourths of U.S. teenagers have premarital sex by age 20 and that 58% have it before age 18. CDC found that in 2005, 50% of teenagers had sex during their high school years and that about 14% reported having sex with four or more partners, the authors write. In addition, a report released in April found that abstinence-only sex education programs are not effective in preventing or delaying teenagers from having sexual intercourse, according to the authors.

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More national and local comprehensive sex education programs that include teaching students about contraception, sexually transmitted infections and safe sex are needed, Jones and Miley write, adding, "Sexual health is not just physical but emotional," and students "need to learn how to develop healthy sexual relationships, whether or not they are forever" (Jones/Miley, USA Today, 10/31).

For current women's health policy news, visit the National Partnership for Women & Families' website.

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.