What happens when schools don't offer up comprehensive sex education?
Well, a lot actually. Past studies have shown that the less information that teens have, the more likely they are to engage in risky behavior, which plays a factor in the rising STD and HIV rates among young people, especially Black youth. Believe it or not, a lot of teens still think that you can get HIV from kissing or sitting on toilets.
Only 13 states in the U.S. make sure that the sex education that they offer is actually scientifically correct. And thanks to eight years of abstinence-only education under President Bush, there are still schools across the country that don't talk about condoms, prevention, birth control and basic STD and HIV transmission information. Not to mention the slashing of federal and local budgets, sex education is being thrown to wayside. So needless to say there is a serious gap between what young people don't know and what they need to know.
So if young people aren't learning about the birds and the bees in school, where are they learning it, if at all?
According to the New York Times, text messaging programs and websites are stepping in where our schools fail. They reported:
In Chicago, teenagers can subscribe to Sex-Ed Loop, a program endorsed by the district that includes weekly automated texts about contraception, relationships and disease prevention. Through Hookup, California teenagers can text their ZIP codes to a number and receive locations for health clinics.
Many services, like Sexetc.org, a national site run by and for teenagers, offer both privacy and communities where adolescents can learn about sexuality and relationships, particularly on mobile devices, eluding parental scrutiny. Services offer links to blogs, interactive games, moderated forums and Facebook and Twitter pages.
The messages, rendered in teenspeak, can be funny and blunt: for Real Talk, a technology-driven H.I.V. prevention program run by the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York, teenagers made a YouTube video shouting a refrain from a rap song, “Sport Dat Raincoat,” during which a girl carrying an umbrella is pelted with condoms.
With all of the misinformation out there, these websites and text message programs provide youth affirming, sex education that doesn't judge them and that allow for them to have accurate information to help them make better decisions, abstinence or not.
What do you think? Do you think that these programs are helpful or harmful? Where do you go to get more information about safer sex?
Learn more about comprehensive sex education here.
BET Health News - We go beyond the music and entertainment world to bring you important medical information and health-related tips of special relevance to Blacks in the U.S. and around the world.
(Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)