A new CDC report shows that 80 percent of young teens who have sex don't get one sex ed class first. And sadly, the sex ed that is being offered across the country is incredibly variable — Mississippi, for example, still teaches that homosexuality is illegal.
The CDC report released Tuesday explains that while young teen births (ages 15-17) have gone down dramatically since the 1990s, the 25 percent of young teens who are having sex today are at a real loss for reliable information. The damaging effects of young teen births have long been chronicled, but consider this CDC statistic: only 38 percent of young teen moms finish high school by their 22nd birthday. The longer teens can delay having sex, the better.
However, giving teens limited or wrong information about sex won't prevent them from having it. That hasn't stopped Mississippi from implementing a backwards, abstinence-only sex ed program over the past two years. Under Mississippi law, public schools must teach sex ed, but discussion of effective birth control is banned — the only time condoms are mentioned is to point out their failure rate. The Los Angeles Times reports that a common demonstration calls "on students to unwrap a piece of chocolate, pass it around class and observe how dirty it became." Further, students are taught that homosexuality is technically illegal under Mississippi's "unnatural intercourse" statute. There is a miserable dearth of real-world information in this program, and at least 12 percent of Mississippi schools haven't even implemented it yet. Those students aren't getting any sex ed whatsoever.
Mississippi, unsurprisingly, has one of the highest teen birthrates in the country.
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This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.