Advertisement

School-based Sex Education in the U.S. at a Crossroads: Taking the Right Path

      School-based sex education in the U.S. is at a crossroads. The United Nations defines sex education as a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical, and social aspects of sexuality [
      UNESCO. International
      Technical guidance on sexuality education, revised edition.
      ]. Over many years, sex education has had strong support among both parents [
      • Kantor L.
      • Levitz N.
      • Holstrom A.
      Support for sex education and teenage pregnancy prevention programmes in the USA: Results from a national survey of likely voters.
      ] and health professionals [
      • Breuner C.C.
      • Mattson G.
      Committee on adolescence, committee on Pyschosocial aspects of child and family health. Sexuality education for children and adolescents.
      ,
      The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
      Abstinence-only-until-marriage Policies and Programs: An Updated Position Paper of the Society for adolescent health and medicine.
      , ,
      American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
      Comprehensive sexuality education. Committee Opinion No. 678. . Obstet Gynecol Web site.
      ], yet the receipt of sex education among U.S. adolescents has declined or stagnated over the past 25 years (1995–2019) [
      • Lindberg L.D.
      • Santelli J.S.
      • Singh S.
      Changes in formal sex education: 1995–2002.
      ,
      • Lindberg L.D.
      • Maddow-Zimet I.
      • Boonstra H.
      Changes in adolescents' receipt of sex education, 2006-2013.
      ,
      • Lindberg L.D.
      • Kantor L.
      Adolescents' Receipt of Sex Education in a Nationally Representative Sample, 2011-2019.
      ]. In 2015–2019, only half of adolescents received sex education that met the minimum standards articulated in Healthy People 2020 [
      • Lindberg L.D.
      • Kantor L.
      Adolescents' Receipt of Sex Education in a Nationally Representative Sample, 2011-2019.
      ]. Receipt of sex education is even worse among young men and men of color than that among young women and white men [
      • Lindberg L.D.
      • Maddow-Zimet I.
      • Boonstra H.
      Changes in adolescents' receipt of sex education, 2006-2013.
      ].
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to Journal of Adolescent Health
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • UNESCO. International
        Technical guidance on sexuality education, revised edition.
        in: Paris, fr: UNESCO, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN women. WHO, 2018 (Available at:)
        • Kantor L.
        • Levitz N.
        • Holstrom A.
        Support for sex education and teenage pregnancy prevention programmes in the USA: Results from a national survey of likely voters.
        Sex Education. 2019; 20: 239-251
        • Breuner C.C.
        • Mattson G.
        Committee on adolescence, committee on Pyschosocial aspects of child and family health. Sexuality education for children and adolescents.
        Pediatrics. 2016; 138e20161348
        • The Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
        Abstinence-only-until-marriage Policies and Programs: An Updated Position Paper of the Society for adolescent health and medicine.
        J Adolesc Health. 2017; 61: 400-403
        • American Medical Association
        Sexuality education, sexual violence prevention, abstinence, and Distribution of condoms in schools H-170.968.
        (Available at:) (Published 2018. Accessed September 10 2021)
        • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
        Comprehensive sexuality education. Committee Opinion No. 678. . Obstet Gynecol Web site.
        (Available at:) (Published 2016. Accessed September 10, 2021)
        • Lindberg L.D.
        • Santelli J.S.
        • Singh S.
        Changes in formal sex education: 1995–2002.
        Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2006; 38: 182-189
        • Lindberg L.D.
        • Maddow-Zimet I.
        • Boonstra H.
        Changes in adolescents' receipt of sex education, 2006-2013.
        J Adolesc Health. 2016; 58: 621-627
        • Lindberg L.D.
        • Kantor L.
        Adolescents' Receipt of Sex Education in a Nationally Representative Sample, 2011-2019.
        J Adolesc Health. 2021; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2021.08.027
        • Chin H.B.
        • Sipe T.A.
        • Elder R.
        • et al.
        The effectiveness of group-based comprehensive risk-reduction and abstinence education interventions to prevent or reduce the risk of adolescent pregnancy, human immunodeficiency virus, and sexually transmitted infections: Two systematic reviews for the Guide to community preventive Services.
        Am J Prev Med. 2012; 42: 272-294
        • Goldfarb E.S.
        • Lieberman L.D.
        Three Decades of research: The Case for comprehensive sex education.
        J Adolesc Health. 2021; 68: 13-27
        • Santelli J.S.
        • Grilo S.A.
        • Choo T.H.
        • et al.
        Does sex education before college protect students from sexual assault in college?.
        PLoS One. 2018; 13: e0205951
        • American Public Health Association
        Sexuality education as Part of a comprehensive health education Program in K to 12 schools.
        (Available at:) (Published 2014. Accessed September 10, 2021)
        • Medical Institute for Sexual Health
        K-12 standards for Optimal sexual development.
        MISH, Dallas, TX2021
        https://newsexedstandards.org/
        Date accessed: September 10, 2021
        • Future of Sex Education
        National sex education standards.
        ed. FoSE, Washington, DC2020 (Available at:)
        • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
        Health education curriculum Analysis Tool, 2021.
        CDC, Atlanta2021 (Available at:)
        • Santelli J.S.
        Medical accuracy in sexuality education: Ideology and the scientific process.
        Am J Public Health. 2008; 98: 1786-1792
        • Mayer R.
        MISH publishes new framework for fear-based, abstinence-only education.
        SIECUS Rep. 1997; 25: 14-16
        • Benson Gold R.
        The implications of defining when a woman is pregnant.
        The Guttmacher Rep Public Policy. 2005; 8: 7-10
        • Hein I.M.
        • Troost P.W.
        • Broersma A.
        • et al.
        Why is it hard to make progress in assessing children’s decision-making competence?.
        BMC Med Ethics. 2015; 16: 1-6
        • Hein I.M.
        • De Vries M.C.
        • Troost P.W.
        • et al.
        Informed consent instead of assent is appropriate in children from the age of twelve: Policy implications of new findings on children’s competence to consent to clinical research.
        BMC Med Ethics. 2015; 16: 1-7