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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Parents and Sex Education

A recent report (May, 2007) from the Center for Research on Adolescent Health and Development at Public Health Institute in Oakland, CA, suggests that 96 percent of California parents are opposed to abstinence-only policies that prohibit instruction in the use of contraceptive methods, regardless of grade level.

The authors of the report, "Sex Ed: A Parent's Perspective," were trying to understand why, in spite of the Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Act of 2003 which mandates sexuality education begins in 7th grade and cover all contraception and STD-prevention methods approved by the FDA, California does not have comprehensive sexuality education widely implemented in its schools.

The team surveyed 1,284 random parents from all five geographic regions in California over the telephone to ask them about comprehensive versus abstinence-only sexuality education, and discovered that regardless of age, ethnicity, education, household income, religion, and country of birth, parents support comprehensive sexuality education. Even 71% of those parents who identified themselves as very conservative and 84% of those identifying as evangelical Christians supported comprehensive sexuality education.

This leads me to wonder, if the state policy demands it, and parents support comprehensive sexuality education, why are fewer than 10% of California students receiving complete and high quality comprehensive sexuality education? It may be that our school administration is fearful of an extremely small, but vocal, subset of parents voicing opposition, or that parents who want their children educated to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are not being vocal enough. If the conversation is not happening in your school district - bring it up and express your opinion - your children deserve it!

Photo Credit: saaby

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.