In response to shrinking budgets and competing academic needs, some health organizations and school districts are developing websites and texting services to address sex education for youths.
- Sexetc.org, a national website run by the sex education group Answer, offers private and community-based information on issues such as sexuality and relationships. The services links to blogs, interactive games, moderated forums, and Facebook and Twitter pages.
- Real Talk, a technology-driven HIV prevention program run by the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York, enlists teens to produce videos and to send on text messages about HIV/STD prevention and testing. In a classroom contest to see which student could forward a prevention message the most times, nearly 450 phones had been reached within one hour.
- ICYC (In Case You're Curious), a text-chat program run by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, fields teen's questions and offers tailored responses.
- Teens in Chicago, which does not have a mandated sex education curriculum, can subscribe to Sex-Ed Loop, a district-endorsed program run by the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health. It includes teen-produced blogs, videos, and weekly automated texts about contraception, relationships, and disease prevention.
- Through Hookup, California teens can text their ZIP code to a number and receive locations for health clinics.
- Planned Parenthood Federation of America is expanding its chat program, specifically embedding search terms used by teenagers to improve the odds they find the site.
"When we ask young people what is the No. 1 way they learn about sex, they say, 'We Google it,'" said Deb Levine, executive director of Oakland, California-based ISIS Inc., which administers texting services and checks content for medical accuracy. "But most of the time, the best information is not coming up in those searches." Levine hosts Sex::Tech, a conference about sexual health programs for youths.
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