'Mixed signals' A key issue in the battle over sex education is whether giving kids more information about sex actually leads to sexual activity.
In a study of 35 sex education programs around the world, the World Health Organization found there is no evidence that comprehensive programs encourage sexual activity.
One in four new HIV infections occurs in people younger than 22. Ted Feinberg, assistant executive director of the National Association of School Psychologists.
But what message should be given to young people is the subject of intense debate. One side in the debate favors comprehensive sex education, including detailed information about sexually transmitted diseases, contraception and abstinence. Or do we want them to learn from an educated, responsible adult?
Soaring rates of sexually transmitted diseases among teens are adding urgency to the debate over sex education.
Conservatives claim the alarming statistics illustrate why abstinence should be the single mantra when it comes to sex ed.
They argue there is a fundamental flaw in giving kids more information about risky behaviors that they should simply be taught to avoid.Kids are becoming more sexually active at an earlier age.Sixty-six percent of American high school students have had sex by their senior year.Advocates of comprehensive sex education say the abstinence-only message ignores information critical for teens to protect their health.But they are not against the abstinence message itself.
Project Reality, which provides curriculum and support to districts across Illinois, including 140 public schools in the Chicago area, teaches teens about STDs and contraception, but tries to encourage abstinence by emphasizing the physical and emotional risks of teen sex.