A new state law says Mississippi schools have to decide between teaching abstinence only sex education or taking a new approach called abstinence plus.

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Parents Looking at Options for New Sex Education Plans

By Daniel Cherry | Published 07 Oct 2011 03:30pm | comments

Mississippi leads the nation in the rate of teen births as well as some sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how a new law requires school districts to adopt new sex education plans in the coming months.

School districts are required by state law to adopt either abstinence only or abstinence plus sex education by June 2012. Parents are trying to get educated on which plan works best for them and their children. Susan Womack, the Executive Director of the Jackson Parents for Public Schools says some parents might not be up to speed on all the information.

"Abstinence only has been around for quite a long time. There are not a lot of people who know about the abstinence plus option. We want to make sure that we have an informed public and parents have the information they need."

Abstinence plus teaches abstinence as the only safe option, but offers some information about safe sex. Sanford Johnson, the Deputy Director of Mississippi First, he supports teaching abstinence plus and says statistics show sex education needs change.

"We're not against abstinence. We think that abstinence is the only fail safe, but programs that rely exclusively on trying to encourage kids to abstain from sex until they're married have just not been proven effective. In fact they've been failures in a lot of communities."

At least 17 school districts have already chosen to teach abstinence only. Tonja Murphy has children in Jackson Public Schools. She says parents should play a big role in deciding what's taught.

"They want to know what their child would be taught in English or Math so with something as sensitive as this, they need to be aware of whatever curriculum they pick and make sure it's something they agree with and something they can talk to their child about at home."

A recent study by the Women's Fund of Mississippi shows teen births cost the state $155 million each year. Whatever program each district chooses, state leaders are hoping to improve in that area.




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