Expert: Chicago's Sex IQ Low, STI Rates High
May 5, 2010
Chicago Public Schools teaches comprehensive sex education, with lessons on health topics such as sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, starting in fifth grade, said Ken Papineau, director of coordinated school health. "One of the areas we focus on is family life and AIDS education," which is mandated by state law, he said.
The state's STD rates, however, remain stubbornly high.
Heather Corinna, author and executive director of the sex advice Web site scarleteen.com, said despite the provision of sex education, too many young people remain uninformed. "In the 12 years I have been working with young adults and sex, it has seemed that as time has gone on, the level of knowledge about STIs and safer sex has decreased, not increased," she said.
"I think there's more knowledge," said Roosevelt University student Sylvia Moran, but it does not seem to be sinking in. People are "saying they're paying attention" in sex education classes but they are not, she said.
Of 1,800 unmarried women and men ages 18-29 surveyed in 2009 by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 37 percent believed petroleum jelly could be used to lubricate condoms. However, petroleum jelly actually breaks down the integrity of latex condoms. In addition, 44 percent thought women taking oral contraception need to "take a break" every few years, whereas experts say that is not necessary.
Dr. Russell Robertson, chair of family and community medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, attributes rising STI rates and lack of knowledge to poor parenting and "depictions of sex in the media." "There are hardly ever any negative consequences," he noted. "People on the television, they do not get gonorrhea."
04.26.2010; Georgia Garvey