Twenty years ago, our 1988 General Convention called for the church to "give strong support to responsible local public and private school programs of education in human sexuality." That support for responsible sex education in our schools is more important than ever:
In 2006 the teen birth rate went up for the first time in 15 years
- With over 750,000 teen pregnancies each year, America has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world.
- 31% of young women become pregnant at least once before the age of 20.
- Roughly half of the nationâs 19 million STDs occur among 14-25 year olds. Nearly one in four teenage girls, and half of African-American girls, have at least one STD. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
According to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy: "Teen pregnancy is closely linked to a host of other critical social issues â poverty and income, overall child well-being, out-of-wedlock births, responsible fatherhood, health issues, education, child welfare, and other risky behavior."
The REAL Act emphasizes comprehensive, medically accurate and age appropriate preventive sex education for Americaâs youth. Sadly that is not the case with present federally funded programs that emphasize abstinence only at the expense of scientifically accurate and comprehensive education. A 2006 report from the Government Accountability Office found that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesâ abstinence-only approach to sex education does not require medically accurate information and lacks accountability. One curriculum even asserted that HIV/AIDS can be spread through sweat and tears.
For many adolescents, the lack of comprehensive sex education courses in schools means that the only formal reproductive health education they receive is inaccurate abstinence- only programs