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Advocates: Proper Sex Education = Fewer Teens Having Sex

August 31, 2011

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Giving students the basic details will not make them more likely to engage in sexual activity, supporters of sex education in Minnesota say. In fact, the opposite is true, according to Brigid Riley, executive director of Teenwise Minnesota.

"What we know from some really well-done research is that young people who learn more actually wait longer to become sexually active, they have fewer partners over time, and they're more likely to use condoms and contraception when they do become sexually active."

However, Riley says, the sex education that young people now receive varies dramatically statewide. She says that's why Teenwise Minnesota supports lessons that include information on abstinence along with pregnancy and STD prevention. She says simply telling students "Don't do it" isn't realistic.

"It's fair to ask the kids in your life, to say, 'You know what? These are my expectations.' Share your values, share your hopes for them. But just telling them to say 'no' forever is just - it's not human, it's not realistic and doesn't work."

If students aren't getting information at home or in the classroom, Riley says, they're picking it up from their peers, the television and more.

"Young people are getting information about sex everywhere. The Internet is rife with information both positive and negative - and yet, we're still constrained at schools about talking about this? And giving young people really quality information? We really need to get over ourselves."

A 2007 survey of Minnesota parents found nearly 90 percent want schools to include information on "when, why and how to wait," along with prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN