Mississippi to implement new sexual education initiative
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It's important for young people to be taught about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and how to avoid contracting these infections. Unfortunately, many parents and educators disagree on the best way to go about talking to young people about sex, and, as a result, teens may get contradicting and confusing information.
In response to a large number of STDs and pregnancies among young people in Mississippi, the Columbus Municipal School District and Lowndes County School District have decided to abandon their abstinence-only sexual education classes in favor of a more comprehensive program. According to The Dispatch, the new initiative, called Abstinence Plus, encourages students to abstain from sex, but also provides information on contraceptives.
Martha Liddell, Ph.D., superintendent for the Columbus Municipal School District, said that the program was changed in response to the fact that girls as young as age 9 were getting diagnosed with STDs in the area. Furthermore, Of the 39,825 babies born in Mississippi in 2011, 5,459 of them were to teenage mothers.
"This is an issue for our nation and an issue for our state," Liddell told the news source. "We chose Abstinence Plus to teach students how making the wrong decision can affect your health."
James Holzhauer, an OB/GYN in Columbus, said that many young people romanticize the idea of having a baby and creating their own families. Furthermore, many are simply not using contraceptives. The doctor said he diagnosed an estimated 500 STD cases in women in 2011.
According to an article published by Think Progress, while teen birth rates dropped in 2010, Mississippi continued to have the highest rate with about 55 births per 1,000 teen girls in the state. Hopefully, this new sexual education initiative will lower the number of unplanned pregnancies and STDs in the state, and encourage sexually active teens to visit STD testing centers in Mississippi.
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