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Is Sex Education Failing American Teens?
Why Does Germany Teach Sex Education to Five Year-Olds?
According to data from the World Bank, European countries tend to have the lowest rate of teen pregnancies. Italy, Germany, and Switzerland, among others, had fewer than 4 teen births per thousand babies born. What accounts for these numbers? Experts point to the generally progressive approach to sexual education in the countries listed above as well as Sweden, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Belgium, all of which reported between 5 and 6 teen births per thousand people. Teachers in these countries tend to put less emphasis on the dangers of sex. Instead, they gear the curriculum to teach sex as a normal, healthy, positive act.
On the other hand, the U.S. reported around 30 teen births per thousand. Sex-Ed in the U.S. tends to veer toward repressive and cautionary teachings. Many states rely on abstinence-only curriculum, which prevents students from learning about pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. It should be noted this is not necessarily a causal relationship between sexual education policy and teen birth rate, but shouldn't all students be entitled to clear, comprehensive information, just as they are with other subjects?
World Bank Data On Adolescent Fertility Rate (World Bank)
Comprehensive sexuality education: the challenges and opportunities of scaling-up (UNESCO)
"Coverage alone is not a sufficient measure of scaling-up. The quality of programmes offered is critical if young people are to gain the knowledge they need, as well as the skills and values necessary to prevent HIV and lead healthy and fulfilling lives"
International Guidelines on Sexuality Education: An evidence informed approach to effective sex, relationships and HIV/STI education (Council of Europe)
"Effective sexuality education can provide young people with age-appropriate, culturally relevant and scientifically accurate information. It includes structured opportunities for young people to explore their attitudes and values, and to practise the skills they will need to be able to make informed decisions about their sexual lives."
Advancing Sexuality Education in Developing Countries: Evidence and Implications (Guttmacher Institute)
"The quality and quantity of evaluation research in this field has improved dramatically over the last decade, and there is now clear evidence that sexuality education programs can help young people to delay sexual activity and improve their contraceptive use when they begin to have sex."