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Arkansas: Elders Decries Lack of Sex Education

August 17, 2007

The lack of effective sex education in US schools is facilitating the spread of STDs and sex crimes against children, Dr. Joycelyn Elders warned Wednesday.

"The reason we have so much AIDS and STDs in Southern states is because we are less likely to have sex education and talk about it as part of our schools and a part of our system," the former US surgeon general told some 200 people at a Community Health Centers of Arkansas summit in Little Rock.

"When we talk about sex education, we all go wild as if that's something we don't talk about. Well, our silence has been deafening, and we are paying a very heavy price for not educating our young people," Elders said.

"We walk around and our government says, 'Oh, Dr. Elders, you know condoms will break.' That's right, they will. But I want to assure you that the vows of abstinence break far more easily than those latex condoms."

During her tenure as Arkansas health director, Elders promoted the idea of distributing condoms at school health clinics. She was appointed surgeon general by President Bill Clinton in 1993 but was ousted the next year after suggesting that masturbation "perhaps should be taught" in schools to curb the spread of STDs.

Our cultural reticence about sex is also leaving US children vulnerable to predators, Elders said. "Certainly we need to teach children in kindergarten that there are certain areas on their bodies nobody is to touch," she said.

Until health education, including sex education, improves, the United States will never have a real health care system, just a "very expensive sick care system," Elders said.

Back to other news for August 2007

Adapted from:
Times Record (Ft. Smith)
08.16.2007; Jason Wiest

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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