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Kids Will Be Adults?

Kids Will Be Adults?


It is no surprise given the conservative, religious climate of the South that the region leads the national trend in mandating abstinence-only sex education for youth, says Paul Scott, executive director of the Resource Center of Dallas and a former director of Tennessee HIV/AIDS agency Chattanooga CARES. But despite widespread political and community support for the programs, there is little evidence to show they are effective in reducing sexual activity among youth. In fact, just the opposite is happening in Lubbock, Tex., where in January students protested an abstinence-only sex education program that has been mandatory in the state since 1995, when it was signed into law by then-governor George W. Bush. The students say that pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease rates have remained high, with Lubbock youth posting some of the highest levels in the state, proving, they say, that the abstinence-only curriculum is failing. 'I think abstinence is wonderful; as a commission we back abstinence,' Corey Nichols, the teenage 'mayor' of the Lubbock Youth Commission, told The Washington Post. 'But when you look at the numbers, you see that the abstinence curriculum fails.' Health officials say that students also need to learn how to protect themselves if and when they decide to have sex [see also 'Adding a Human Touch in Texas,' on page 30]. 'I don't think information leads to bad decisions,' Vilka Scott, a disease intervention specialist at the Lubbock health department, told The Washington Post. 'I think it empowers individuals to make their own responsible decisions.'

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