Failed protection

Sex-ed teachers across U.S. failing to teach topics recommended by CDC

A student receives a condom a the school health clinic in New York City. (Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) annual survey of sex-ed teachers across the United States has found that fewer than one-fifth of middle schools — and half of high schools — are teaching all of the sex education topics recommended by the CDC. Stephanie Zaza, the director of the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, said that the noncompliance is no surprise: it’s been like this, she says, “As far back as I can recall.”

The gap state by state varied widely: the lowest rate of compliance for middle school was 4 percent in Kentucky, and the highest was 45 percent in North Carolina. For high schools, Arizona set the lowest mark with fewer than 20 percent of students receiving the full list of recommended topics, and New Jersey set the highest mark at 90 percent.

The survey also found that not all topics are taught equally. For middle school the most taught topic was “benefits of being sexually abstinent,” at 77.2 percent, and in high school abstinence was the third most taught at 93.9 percent. The least taught topic for middle school and high school was “how to correctly use a condom,” at 23.3 and 53.7 percent respectively. Despite the nation’s excellent abstinence education, nearly half of high school students claim to have had sex, and half of all new sexually transmitted infections occur in people age 24 and younger.

Read the full story at NPR.

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