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Abstinence Plus Sex Education Supports Hope To See Results

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 06 Dec 2012 05:40pm | comments
A researcher displays data at the Thursday conference.

Supporters of more comprehensive sex education are hoping to find proof that abstinence plus sex education helps drive down Mississippi's teen pregnancy rate.  MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports for the first time this year, Mississippi schools are required to teach some form of sex education.

Teachers, nurses and youth advocates who support abstinence plus sex education were among those meeting in Jackson yesterday to examine how the new curriculum is being taught in Mississippi schools.

Abstinence plus sex education still stresses avoiding sex for teens, but also includes more information about contraception.

Jamie Bardwell with the Women's Fund of Mississippi says a complete sex education program has lowered teen pregnancy rates in other states.

"You always come back to science and data and evidence it becomes pretty apparent what works. So, obviously abstinence-plus, evidence-based sex education has been proven to work. So we are excited for the first time 34 school districts have adopted a policy to teach not only abstinence-plus curriculum but also one that is considered evidence based by the department of Health and Human Services," Bardwell said.

The state department of health will do research across Mississippi to determine which programs are working to lower the teen pregnancy rate.

17-year old Kameisha Smith of Holmes County says abstinence plus sex education is a welcome addition to her school.

"Parents are younger. Then the teen parents are younger. So you are not getting what you need at home. Like for me, I am not a teen parent but my mother had me when she was a teen and we have not had a discussion about sex.  and I think it would be so helpful for schools to see this as a value of our community to implement these kids of classes and programs inside of our school," Smith said.

But getting data to compare different sex ed programs will prove challenging because there are so many variables, says Teresa Hannah with the Mississippi Center for Health policy.

"Because some schools may have say 50% of the kids opt in and another may have 100%. So of them may do a curriculum for one week and another does it 12 weeks.  So there are so many factors involved trying to determine that impact in one school district on teen pregnancy versus another is going to be difficult," Hannah said.

Since abstinence-plus sex education programs are taking effect just this year, it could be years before researchers can determine if this curriculum is helping reduce the state's teen pregnancy rate.

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A researcher displays data at the Thursday conference.


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