An alarming number of America’s teenagers are putting themselves at risk for HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy through early sexual activity. According to recent figures, nearly half (or 46%) of high school students have had sexual intercourse. In response, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States and The Community Preventive Services Task Force (SPSTF) is now recommending that education regarding HIV and pregnancy prevention be made available before teens begin engaging in behaviors that place them at risk.
Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its recently released report “HIV, Other STD, and Pregnancy Prevention Education in Public Secondary Schools-45 States, 2008-2010,” little progress has been made in increasing the percent of public middle and high schools that offer education that address specific HIV, other STD and pregnancy risk reduction topics.
Compared with 2008, the percent of middle schools offering this type of education in a required course did not increase and was in fact significantly lower in 2010 in 11 states. Similarly, the percent of high schools teaching three condom-related topics in a required course was significantly lower in eight states and only significantly higher in three states.”
Colorado. Rev. State. 22-1-110.5 states: A school district that offers a human sexuality curriculum shall maintain content standards for the curriculum that are based on scientific research. Curriculum content standards shall also be age-appropriate, culturally sensitive, and medically accurate according to published authorities upon which medical professionals generally rely.
Siecus reports that, Colorado schools are not required to teach sexuality or sexually transmitted disease education; but that districts can decide whether to teach sexuality education and may address the subject in preschool through 12th grade, focusing on abstinence as the only certain way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. As of 2009, at least 82% of high school students in Colorado reported having been taught about AIDS/HIV in school compared to a national average of 87%
While teen pregnancy rates have been declining in Colorado and the rest of the country, Colorado Youth Matter reports that a baby is born to a Colorado teen every 84 minutes, with almost 9 percent of births to 18 and under youth being second births.
With May being Teen Pregnancy Prevention month, The Healthy Colorado Youth Alliance offers activities to engage the community in raising awareness on teen pregnancy:
- Start a “Did you Know” Campaign with facts about unintended teen pregnancy.
- Host a Brown Bag Series featuring different aspects of teen pregnancy
- Screen a Movie that starts the conversation
- Create an Earned Media Event that will get positive media attention and
- Write an Opinion Piece in your local newspaper.
CRS encourages these options and strives to consistently support positive change in our community, particularly as it relates to protecting young people from avoidable risks.