Kentucky: Sex-Education Lessons Vary by School, Grade
August 8, 2005
Kentucky schools decide what the state's students learn about sex, and when. In some Kentucky schools, fifth graders get a general, non-explicit discussion on relationships and setting limits. Some eighth graders take a short science unit on basic human reproduction, the changes of adolescence, and the benefits of abstinence. Many ninth-grade health classes use "Reducing the Risk," an abstinence program with topics that include preventing pregnancy and STDs. Some schools add "Postponing Sexual Involvement," which advocates abstinence and does not discuss contraception.
Some students take home electronically programmed "Baby Think It Over" dolls that cry to be fed, burped, changed or rocked, and record abuse and neglect. In Louisville, Catholic-school students learn sex education as part of a family life program that includes topics such as reproduction and healthy relationships.
According to a CDC study published last year, 40 percent of girls ages 15-17 are sexually active. In the last decade, Kentucky's teen birth rate dropped from 68 per 1,000 births in 1990 to 51 per 1,000 in 2002. Teen birth rates have also dropped nationally in the last decade. While some credit abstinence programs for part of the decline, a report last year by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) found instances in which abstinence-only programs overstated the dangers of sex.
Donna Benton, Jefferson County Public Schools' practical-living specialist, said it is important to remember that what is taught in school is no substitute for parents having ongoing, frank talks with their children.
Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.)
07.31.05; Chris Kenning