Representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have pointed out that most schools fail at providing sex education to their students.
According to data included in the 2014 School Health Profiles report, it appears that as few as 17% of all middle schools across the United States and approximately half of all the high schools are offering pupils enough guidance and information regarding safe sexual practices.
The findings don’t actually come as a shock to Stephanie Zaza, who currently serves as Director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health.
If her own school memories and those of other American adults are of any indication, there has always been reluctance in providing schoolkids with adequate sex education, this matter being treated as a taboo or as something of inconsequential value.
Apparently, upon investigating 16 main aspects that must be reviewed when explaining sex to children and teenagers, it was determined that the most frequently presented issues are the advantages of renouncing physical intimacy altogether, and the need to build relationships based on mutual understanding and courtesy.
Emphasis has been placed on sexual abstinence despite the fact that recent studies had revealed that the largest number of teen pregnancies is encountered in states which favor this type of approach.
In contrast, the most insufficiently highlighted topic is related to condoms. Students aren’t properly instructed regarding how this method of contraception should be accessed and used in order to guard them against sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
Due to this obvious lack of awareness, the number of adolescents that declare they have used condoms during their last sexual encounter has dropped by around 4%, from 63% as reported in 2003, to 59% nowadays.
Moreover, over a fifth of them (22%) have admitted that they had been under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they last had sex, therefore putting themselves at risk of being infected with HIV or other STDs.
The percentage has actually remained at a standstill for more than 20 years, which indicates that no headway has been achieved in curbing this alarming trend.
As emphasized Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director at CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP), schoolchildren should be informed from an early age regarding the consequences of reckless sexual behavior, so that when they eventually have sex they can be fully aware of the need to use protection.
The study also revealed significant discrepancies among states, when it came to adequately educating students about the importance of practicing safe sex.
For instance, in Kentucky just around 4% of all middle schoolers benefit from comprehensive sex education, covering all the 16 topics identified by the CDC.
In contrast, 46% of the middle school kids in North Carolina receive this type of instruction, but despite the fact that this state is considered to be the highest in the ranking, its score still doesn’t correspond to a pass grade.
Among high-schoolers, the most in-depth sexual health guidance is provided in New Jersey, where around 90% of all students are properly educated in this respect, whereas the most deficient is in Arizona, where just around a fifth of all adolescents receive this kind of information.
Given that children and teenagers are so poorly informed and ill-prepared before their first sexual experience, it comes as no surprise that approximately 40% of all sexually active female adolescents in the U.S. have acquired a sexually transmitted infection that can result in infertility or even be life-threatening.
Moreover, as the Office of Adolescent Health of the U.S Health and Human Services has revealed, around half of all the 20 million STDs encountered among Americans and approximately 1 in 4 newly diagnosed cases of HIV are identified among people between the age of 15 and 24.
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