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My aim in this paper is to present a comprehensively research-based, values-neutral set of recommendations for the effective implementation of sex education. In particular, I argue that comprehensive sex education, including birth control methods and STD-prevention, must take precedence over—and ideally replace—abstinence-only instruction. The first step in this argument is addressing the question of why this topic is important. According to a 2008 Society for Adolescent Medicine study, there are more than 750,000 teen pregnancies and approximately 9 million cases of sexually transmitted disease (STD) infections among youth aged 15-24 years old that occur in the United States each year” (Mueller, Gavin & Kulkarni, p.90). In a study from the same journal, Kohler, Manhart, and Lafferty (2008) note that these numbers are “higher in the United States than in most other industrialized countries” (p.345), even with similar rates of sexual activity prevalent. Moreover, the rate of adolescent pregnancy in the US in 1995 was nearly twice that of England, Wales, and Canada, and four times that of France and Sweden (p.345). It is the overriding, values-neutral, assumption of this paper and my argument that everyone—of whatever political and/or religious persuasion—would like for these numbers to be lower and preferably in keeping with those of our fellow industrialized countries. It is for the same reason that this discussion is of importance to public health educators.
In the next section, I present progressively specific research in support of the implementation of more prevalent as well as carefully, sociodemographically targeted, comprehensive sex education. I conclude with a set of recommendations based on the research presented. And, finally for this section, I would like to identify the only values-based assumptions of this paper...
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