In U.S. schools, many students only encounter one type of curriculum when it comes to sexual education: abstinence-only. Teachers encourage young adults to wait until marriage before having sex. Any inclusion of contraception is minimal and when it is incorporated into the lesson plan, students are told about its shortcomings and failures. The only way to have safe sex, they say, is to not engage in sexual intercourse at all, until a person is married.
Abstinence-only programs grew increasingly popular in the early 2000s, when funding grew from $9 million in 1997 to $176 million by 2007.
In 2010, states began receiving funds for "comprehensive" sex-ed programs. However, it was largely up to the states to decide how to apply the funding and it's clear that "comprehensive" curricula are not rolled out across all 50 states -- far from it. Only 22 mandate any sex-ed whatsoever. Eighteen states and Washington D.C. require that information on contraception be taught; 37 require the same for abstinence. Perhaps most alarming is the fact that 13 states require that the sex-ed instruction be medically accurate.
Sex Education Delays Teens' Sexual Activity (The Huffington Post)
"Teens who receive formal sex education wait longer to have sex, a new study finds - and when they do get around to doing the deed, they're more likely than teens who haven't had sex ed to use contraception."
Sex Education in the U.S. is Screwing Our Kids (Salon)
"Government-funded abstinence programs and a lack of instructor training are failing the country's teens."
Teaching Good Sex (The New York Times)
"Across the country, the approach ranges from abstinence until marriage is the only acceptable choice, contraceptives don't work and premarital sex is physically and emotionally harmful, to abstinence is usually best, but if you must have sex, here are some ways to protect yourself from pregnancy and disease."