1. Tiedje, Linda Beth

Article Content

Eisenberg, M. E., Bernat, D. H., Bearinger, L. H., & Resnick, M. D. (2008). Journal of Adolescent Health, 42, 352-359.


Recently, a "pregnancy pact" at a high school was in the headlines, and although it was discredited, it brought our attention back to slightly increasing teen birth rates, sexually transmitted infections among teens, and the disconnect between public policy and sex education in the United States. This study details a survey of 1,605 parents of middle school students (63% participation rate) who were asked about attitudes toward sexuality education and the grade level at which it should be taught. The results showed that 89.3% of the parents supported education that included both abstinence and more comprehensive sexuality education. The parents also believed that most topics should first be taught during the middle school years, which is appropriate because 34% of adolescents report having intercourse by the 9th grade. Even more surprising was the support found among all demographic categories of parents of all races, religions, education levels, incomes, and political parties. This study highlights the gap between actual sex education content as currently taught in most schools and parents' opinions or preferences. The body of evidence amassed demonstrates that parents support multiple sex education strategies for prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including abstinence and information about contraceptives and condoms. How do we construct sex education policies to be more evidence based? First, because the overwhelming majority of parents support evidence-based comprehensive sex education policies, they must speak out more assertively on local sex education committees and to local school boards. Second, as public health-oriented healthcare professionals, we need to use this evidence to actively advocate for evidence-based sex education in our schools.


Linda Beth Tiedje

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