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CDC Identifies Topics for Sex Education in Schools; Few Schools Teach All

CDC Identifies Topics for Sex Education in Schools; Few Schools Teach All

The Centers for Disease Control has identified 16 topics it says should be taught in U.S. sex education classes, but so far only half of U.S. schools and a fifth of U.S. middle schools are already doing so. The topics the CDC recommends are as follows:

  1. Benefits of being sexually abstinent.
  2. How to access valid and reliable health information, products and services related to HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy.
  3. Influences of family, peers, media, technology and other factors on sexual risk behavior.
  4. Communication and negotiation skills related to eliminating or reducing risk for HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy.
  5. Goal-setting and decision-making skills related to eliminating or reducing risks.
  6. Influencing and supporting others to avoid or reduce sexual risk behaviors.
  7. Importance of using condoms consistently and correctly.
  8. Importance of using a condom at the same time as another form of contraception to prevent both STDs and pregnancy.
  9. How to create and sustain healthy and respectful relationships.
  10. Importance of limiting the number of sexual partners.
  11. Preventive care that is necessary to maintain reproductive and sexual health.
  12. How HIV and other STDs are transmitted.
  13. Health consequences of HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy.
  14. Effectiveness of condoms.
  15. How to obtain condoms.
  16. How to correctly use a condom.

The CDC recommends that students begin receiving sex education in 7th grade, but the starting grade level as well as the subjet matter various in schools across the country. 

California set a precedent in October last year when it declared it would be mandating that every public school teach sex education to students in grades 7-12.

Although 90 percent of the state’s schools were already offering some kind of sex education, because it was not regulated, schools were able to pick and choose what was taught. Many taught abstinence-only subject matter, which critics argued did not properly educate students about sexual health. 

Much of the new California sex education curriculum will be adhering to the CDC’s new guidelines.

The law became effective Jan. 1, 2016, but many states and districts are still holding their own battles to get rid of abstinence-only sex education and move on to more comprehensive subject matter.

In Omaha, for example, the school board is having a difficult time deciding on new standards for a sex ed program in dire need of an update. 

In Nebraska, sex ed is left up to the individual school districts to decide what to offer by way of subject matter and whether to even offer it at all. 

And even though no sex ed classes will be mandatory in Omaha public schools, board members and the community are still at odds when it comes to deciding on a curriculum, said ABC News. 

In Omaha this month, "board members sat in stoic silence, activists from both sides vented their feelings during three hours of public comment — reflecting divisions that have bedeviled school boards nationwide, as well as state legislatures and even Congress," ABC News said.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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