Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
MTV and Time Magazine Examine Controversy Over Abstinence-Only Sex Education
MTV and Time magazine this week both examine the ongoing controversy over abstinence-only sex education in the United States. Tomorrow, MTV will examine sex education in schools in a half-hour television news special titled "Fight For Your Rights: Protect Yourself: Sex in the Classroom." The program is part of the network's year-long social initiative "Fight For Your Rights," which was developed by the network and the Kaiser Family Foundation to examine issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies. "From teachers and parents to politicians and doctors, it seems everyone has a voice in the national debate surrounding abstinence-only education -- everyone, that is, except the one segment of the population who is most affected by this issue: young people," MTV/VH1 President of Entertainment Brian Graden said. During the special, MTV reporters interview teenagers in Lubbock, Texas, who joined together to fight for comprehensive sex education in their schools because they were "alarmed" by the town's high rates of teen pregnancy and STDs. The show also features two high school "football stars" who support abstinence-only education and have taken "virginity pledges" to postpone having sex until marriage. The special then looks at a joint poll conducted by MTV and Time that found that sexual health issues are an "overwhelming concern" among teenagers. The poll surveyed 1,061 people between the ages of 13 and 18 about their views on sex education and found that 84% think school-based sex education programs should include information about contraception and safe sex. In addition, 70% of respondents said they opposed federal funding mandates that stipulate that funds can only go to schools with abstinence-only curricula, and 73% said they would like to see condoms distributed in schools. The majority of respondents (65%) also listed HIV/AIDS or other STDs as an issue that is "extremely" or "very" important to them, ahead of terrorism (49%). Full survey results are available as part of the Time article, which also examines a new "trendlet" in abstinence-based sex education that focuses on the medical reasons to postpone having sex instead of taking a values-based approach (MTV/Time release, 9/29). The Oct. 7 issue of Time is on newsstands now and is also available online.
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