The American College of Pediatricians (AcPeds) released the latest information on School-Based sex education in the United States and their review of the research suggests that the current curriculum model is not effective.
The national organization said that the nation’s comprehensive sex ed “(CSE)programs in America’s schools have not demonstrated long-term effectiveness at increasing sexual abstinence among adolescents, nor have they been shown to increase long-term condom and contraceptive use among sexually active youth.”
In the abstract of the report, AcPeds states that [t]he American College of Pediatricians, “therefore recommends the adoption of sexual risk avoidance (SRA) programs by all school districts in lieu of curricula described as comprehensive sex education (CSE).”
Despite efforts to educate students on the impacts of sexual choices and curriculum that emphasizes the premise that American’s youth will inadvertently be sexually active, STDs are still on the rise.
In August, the CDC released a report describing that STDs in the nation have risen sharply, where 2.29 million cases of chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea had been diagnosed in the U.S. throughout 2017—an increase of more than 200,000 cases over 2016.
According to the most recent report from AcPEds, youth are capable of sexual abstinence while living in a world of sexualized culture citing significant reductions in the percentage of high school students who had sexual intercourse.
The organization said the following about the need for sexual abstinence and healthier choices among youth citing many research studies:
As pediatricians, we care for thousands of youth in our practices over the course of their lives. We see the benefits of adolescent sexual abstinence, and the suffering caused by adolescent sexual activity, up close. In addition to making significantly healthier life choices than their sexually active peers, sexually abstinent youth also avoid the substantive adverse physical, emotional and social consequences of premature sexual activity. These negative outcomes include but are not limited to:
- teen pregnancy, out-of-wedlock births and abortions
- sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infertility
- sexual violence
- adolescent anxiety and depression
- adolescent suicide
- single parent households and poverty
- deterioration of the nuclear family
AcPeds gave many suggestions for improving public health models concerning STDs and youth sexual education by saying that “abstinence from vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse is the only 100% effective way to prevent HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy. The correct and consistent use of male latex condoms can reduce the risk of STD transmission, including HIV infection. However, no protective method is 100% effective, and condom use cannot guarantee absolute protection against any STD or pregnancy.”
Other strategies for decreasing risk were:
- Reduce risk and harm such as use of needle-exchange programs of IV drug users.
- A dual approach to sex education: Comprehensive sex education (CSE) purports to incorporate both sexual risk avoidance (SRA) strategies and sexual risk reduction (SRR) strategies within the same curriculum in order to serve the needs of the full spectrum of young people.
- More emphasis on abstinence education as a risk-reduction strategy.
- Reduce the perception that teens are more sexually active as a normal and acceptable cultural premise.
AcPeds criticized the notion that CSE programs continue the idea that the nation’s youth are going to partake in increased sexual behavior and therefore caters to a curriculum promiscuity. According to the recent research on the current CSE model, not all CSE programs include such suggestions of teenagers to experiment with sexuality, but instead, provide details that much of the CSE curricula is failing the nation’s youth on sex education.
“Not all CSE programs include these suggestions, but many do,” ACPeds asserts.
Below are is the research findings on the effectiveness of school-based CSE over the last 25 years:
- Teen Pregnancy: Only one of the 40 school-based CSE programs evaluated by the 60 studies reported a reduction in teen pregnancy, but that effect did not extend beyond the end of the program, and a subsequent study in a different location found the same program actually increased pregnancy rates.
- STI Prevention: None of the school-based CSE studies demonstrated a reduction in teen STIs: in fact, only two measured it.
- Teen Abstinence: Although four of the 60 school-based CSE studies reported 12-month post-program increases in teen abstinence, 12 other studies of the same programs found no such positive effects and one negative effect.
- Consistent Condom Use: None of the school-based CSE programs showed effectiveness at increasing consistent condom use by teens (consistent use is necessary to provide meaningful protection from STIs). Although one program reported an increase 12 months after the program, a subsequent replication study conducted by independent evaluators—not the program’s developers—found that this program actually increased teen sexual risk behavior.
- CSE’s Intended Dual Benefit: None of the school-based CSE programs showed success at achieving the purported dual benefit of the “comprehensive” strategy—increasing both teen abstinence and condom use within the same teen population. No program produced sustained effects on both outcomes one year after the program’s completion. Thus, the central rationale for CSE and its purported advantage over sexual risk avoidance (SRA) education has not been realized in school settings, the most common venue for CSE in the U.S.
- Negative Effects: Five of the 40 school-based CSE programs evaluated by these 60 studies produced significant negative effects (i.e., increases in sexual initiation, recent sex, oral sex, pregnancy, or decreased contraceptive use) for the target population or a substantial subgroup of teens.
AcPeds notes that although teen pregnancy rates, STDs, and abortions have decreased significantly since the 1990’s, they are still the highest in the industrialized world; the racial disparity in rates of sexual activity is decreasing with falling rates among black, Hispanic, and younger white teens, but not among older white teens.
To review the entire report and research, click here.