According to a new report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the sex education programs taught in schools for the past 20 years haven’t amounted to much, because the number of U.S. teenagers who report using a condom has remained approximately the same.
In light of the concerning CDC statistics, the Adolescent and School Health report found there is a wide variability from one state to another in how schools educated teenagers about the prevention of STDs, HIV, and unwanted pregnancies.
This new report shows that fewer than half of the reviewed high schools and about one in five middle schools teach about all 16 topics the CDC recommends for the grades 6 through 12. At the same time the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System revealed roughly half of all STD infections and one-quarter of new HIV cases occur among people under age 25.
The CDC also reported that advances in promoting safe sex among this concerning age group have stagnated since the beginning of the 2000s. Moreover, the report included data that indicated a decrease in the percentage of teens who said they used a condom during their last sexual encounter, from 63 percent to 59 percent since 2003.
Roughly 22 percent of the respondents said they were not sober – they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs – the last time they had sex. These figures reflect virtually “no progress in more than two decades,” said the agency.
A recent press release of Dr. Stephanie Zaza, chief of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, explained that very serious health consequences can result from the sheer lack of effective sex education in U.S. middle and high schools.
Having multiple sex partners, not using condoms, and having sex under the influence of drugs or alcohol all lead to a higher risk for sexually transmitted infections and especially HIV. That’s why sensible and age-appropriate school-based sex education is a significant opportunity for teens to be taught the information they need to be protected.
The CDC recommends 16 topics related to sex education in order to cover the important knowledge, but the number of subjects actually taught across the states varies widely, from a mere 21 percent of schools in Arizona to a whopping 90 percent in New Jersey.
Dr. Jonathan Mermin, head of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention, said that teaching our young people “the skills and knowledge they need to protect their own health” could definitely benefit from improvement. They need to know how to develop healthy relationships and reduce sexual risk.
Image Source: The Week