The Need for Sex Education

Effective sex education and HIV/STD prevention programs delay sexual activity, increase condom use, and promote healthy attitudes in youth.

California has one of the most progressive policies for teaching comprehensive sex education, and has a strong mandate for teaching HIV prevention lessons, even when a full sex education program is not offered. Yet, too often, the subject of health is short-changed in schools because of a standards-based regime of annual assessments and time encroachments by the core curriculum: specifically Math and English.

But health needs are paramount in the lives of youth. Without accurate knowledge of their bodies and the risk and development of good communication and behavioral skills, youth are at risk for a variety of diseases, pregnancy, and other potential dangers. The newest Health standards issued by the State of California cover a broad array of issues dealing with all aspects of becoming healthy people, including social, emotional, physical, and sexual health. I’m currently involved in a project to improve the sexual health of students in my district, and I’ve found some very compelling data to highlight this need.

I will have a later post that will list many data resources on HIV,STD’s, Teen Pregnancy, and Risky Behaviors in Youth

Note on the Data below:

The following data are derived from different sources using different methodologies, and may also represent slightly different age groups. For example, one set of data may say “high school students”, while another may refer to students age 15-19. Some are based on nationwide surveys, another may be raw data of numbers of cases reported to public health officials.

These numbers are based primarily on National Averages- this is not a region-specific analysis, yet the birthrate and pregnancy rate is derived from State data specific to Latina teens.

For every 100 Junior High students:

6 of the students have already had sex, or will have sex before the age of 14

By the Time Your Students Finish High School

46 of them will have had sex.

55 of them (more than half) will have Oral Sex.

14 will have four or more sexual partners

11 of them will have anal sex with someone of the opposite sex

3 of the males will have anal sex with another male.

7 of the girls will have intercourse against their will.

20 will contract an STD of some kind

7 of the girls will get pregnant.

4 will give birth.

2 will have abortions.

And, if you were to ask 100 students during their high school years,

20 of them did not use a condom during their last sexual intercourse.

For Santa Maria:

Many of our Junior High students are already sexually active. Most of the data above is based on National Averages. The Pregnancy Rate of our Latina teens (included in the above) is twice the national average. Therefore, it is highly probable that the rates of risky behaviors are also much higher than the national averages.

According to the CDC:

Effective HIV/STD and Pregnancy Prevention programs should address the needs of youth who are not engaging in sexual intercourse as well as youth who are currently sexually active.

Well-designed programs have been shown to decrease sexual risk behaviors, including:

  • Delaying first sexual intercourse
  • Reducing the number of sex partners
  • Decreasing the number of times students have unprotected sex
  • Increasing condom use


1CDC Healthy Youth! “Sexual Risk Behaviors”

2CDC “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance-United States, 2009

3Guttmacher Institute “U.S. Teen Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by State and Ethnicity

4CDPH “STD Sexually Transmitted Diseases in California 2008

5CDC Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2008

6Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, National Survey of Family Growth 2006-2008


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  1. […] The Need for Sex Education […]

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