Mississippi schools are in the process of choosing which sex education program they will use in the coming years.

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Mississippi School Districts Choosing New Sex Education Programs

By Daniel Cherry | Published 31 Aug 2011 06:05pm | comments

Mississippi leads the nation in the rate of teen births as well as infections of chlamydia and gonorrhea. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how school administrators are deciding how to address these problems through sex education.

In the coming months a new law passed this year requires schools to decide between teaching abstinence only or a new option called abstinence plus. Rachel Canter with Mississippi First, a nonprofit advocating public policy change, says Mississippi teens are the most sexually active in the nation. She says that shows it's time schools make a change.

"It's a crisis that affects all of us economically. It's a crisis that affects all of us socially. And it's a crisis that puts us on a cycle of poverty for generations to come, and we have to take some action. We can either take action where we'll just be spinning wheels for another generation or we can take action that will lead to improved outcomes."

Abstinence plus teaches abstinence as the best option, but still offers information on contraceptives and diseases.

Abstinence only would provide students information on the consequences of unsafe sexual practices outside marriage while saying abstinence is the only guaranteed safe method. Dr. Lisa Karmacharya is the Superintendent of Brookhaven Schools. She says administrators there have already decided abstinence only best fits their district.

"Brookhaven is a very conservative community, and it seems to fit very well with us. We are not naive enough to believe that all children are going to be abstinent, but we are of the belief that it's the right way to go about our business in terms of sex education."

At least 17 Mississippi schools have chosen to use an abstinence only program. Wendy Polk, a spokesperson for the state Department of Education, says whatever schools decide, the department of education will be behind them.

"Each local school district can select which curriculum they can teach their students based on the needs of their local communities based on the needs of their local communities. The Department of Education will provide them the resources they need."

Schools have until June 2012 to adopt their new plan.

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