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PTA Addresses Sex Ed, School Prayer at Annual Conference

June 24, 2002

Parents want their school-age children to learn about safe sex, not just abstinence, according to a survey released Sunday at the National PTA's annual conference. The survey, conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, found that while 97 percent of the parents surveyed put abstinence at the top of their list, 85 percent said students should learn more about condoms and 84 percent said they should learn more about other forms of birth control.

Half of all high school students are sexually active, said Virginia Witt, a program officer with the foundation. Witt presented the findings to parents during one of more than 90 workshops slated for the conference, which continues through Tuesday in San Antonio, Texas. About 2,500 parents are attending.

Parents also stressed that sex education should teach children about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. One of the most effective methods of reaching students is to make them aware of the risks, Witt said. Scare tactics should be followed up with sex education classes that encourage students to talk openly about their concerns and seek solutions that are in their own best interest, said Gerald Davolt, an assistant professor of health at California State University-Fresno. He said he tells teens to delay parenthood for as long as they can, and if they are sexually active, he tells them to use a condom "the first time and every time."

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