News that Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s unmarried, 17-year-old daughter is pregnant has once again focused attention on the debate over sex education in the United States. The religious right’s attacks against responsible sex education have been accompanied — with strong support from the Bush administration — by increased funding for programs that teach abstinence-only-until-marriage. Yet the nation’s teen birth rate is rising again, and Texas — where state law emphasizes abstinence education — has the highest teen birth rate among the 50 states.
Now a USA Today article looks at the sorry state of sex education in America:
[T]here’s no systematic tracking of what U.S. schools are teaching kids about sex — and either way, there seems to be little connection between what they’re taught and their behaviors, researchers say.
“As much as we fight about sex education, we actually know very little about it in the real world,” says Sarah Brown, CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Another USA Today article compares the United States to other countries in what teens learn about sex. Clearly, other developed countries see little value in keeping teens ignorant about responsible pregnancy and disease prevention.