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California: Newark Builds Case for Fifth-Grade Sex Education

June 27, 2008

Earlier this month, Newark Unified School District staff gave school board members an update on a possible sex education curricula to meet new California standards. In the spring, California's Department of Education adopted guidelines on age-appropriate sex education, and it endorsed targeting fifth-, seventh- and eighth-graders as well as high school students.

"We need to provide information to students early and quickly," said Katherine Keleher, Newark's education services coordinator. "We do have a relatively high teen pregnancy rate in our district."

District staff found the "Focus on Kids" course offered to Newark fifth- and sixth-graders was the only "research-validated" option on the state's list of curricula. The course includes lessons on HIV and condom use, describes values and encourages students to set goals.

A report to the trustees buttressed the case for learning about STDs much earlier than in high school and being able to make sound decisions independent of peer pressure. From 2002-2004, Newark had nearly twice the teen pregnancy rate of nearby Fremont, according to Alameda County research. Statewide, 20 percent of freshmen reported having had sex, including 8 percent who experienced sex before age 13, the recent California Healthy Kids Survey shows.

The curriculum council recommended retaining the 2005 edition of "Focus on Kids" for fifth-graders and called for teachers to receive assistance in teaching the subject. Free comprehensive sexuality education trainings will take place on July 23 and 29 at the Alameda County Office of Education. In August, the board will revisit the curriculum issue.

Back to other news for June 2008

Adapted from:
Contra Costa Times
06.20.2008; Todd R. Brown, The Argus (Fremont)

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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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