Thursday, April 16, 2009
RH Reality Check: Young People Need, Demand Sex Education, by Jane Fonda:
It's about time we make the well-being of our young people more important than ideology and politics. As a country, we benefit from investing in their future by investing in teen pregnancy prevention. Our youth deserve the opportunity to complete their high school and college education, free of early parenthood. Their future children deserve the opportunity to grow up in financially and emotionally stable homes. Our communities benefit from healthy, productive, well-prepared young people.
We can make a difference by advocating for effective sex education. The Title V funding for abstinence-only programs is up for reauthorization by Congress. Since 1982, the US government has allocated $3.6 billion to abstinence only-until-marriage programs and has received a dismal return on its investment. And not surprisingly - these programs have very little evidence of effectiveness. Mathematica Policy Research conducted a national evaluation of abstinence-only programs and its findings show abstinence-only programs have no beneficial impact on whether young people abstain from sex, delay sexual activity, or reduce the number of sexual partners. This lack of evidence demands we take a different approach to sexual health education. The US has the highest teen birth rate of all industrialized nations at 41.9 per 1,000 girls age 15-19. By comparison, the next closest country is the United Kingdom at 26.7 per 1,000.