Comprehensive sex education can prevent teen pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. That's according to a new study published in this month's Journal of Adolescent Health.
Newschannel 10's Stephanae Benson looks into this on-going debate.
To teach sex education comprehensive or abstinence only? There's research to support either method is effective, but there is one fundamental difference. "Worth The Wait" is what students are being taught at most middle and high schools in the Texas Panhandle.
The curriculum focuses on the dangers of sex, promoting that it's worth the wait. The program's Executive Director, Shawn Fouts say's since they starting teaching the curriculum in 2002 it has been successful in reducing teen pregnancies.
"Amarillo high schools as a whole, all four of them together in 2005-2006 had 192 teen pregnancy. In 2006-2007 they had 160, that's almost a 15% percent decline."
According to the study just published says with comprehensive sex education that number can jump to a 60% decline in teen pregnancy. According to the C.E.O. of Amarillo's Planned Parenthood, Claudia Stravato she agrees.
"They simply need to add what we call abstinence plus. That's plus the information that whatever age they decide they are going to become sexually active they have the information and the tools to know how to engage in safe sex and not risk getting a sexually transmitted disease or bringing a baby in this world that they are unable to take care of."
But other than that both the curriculums are almost identical.
"Our real mission is educate, equip and empower teenagers in the panhandle to make positive and healthy life choices." said Fouts.
"We work with on refusal skills, and peer pressure ..people think were down here teaching kids to engage in sexual activity that's the last thing we want to do." Stravato continues.
Advocates are pushing for the comprehensive sex education to be taught in panhandle schools because the area has the highest teen pregnancy rates in the area. Ultimately, they say parents should not leave sex education to the schools, but sit down with their teens and decide what's best for their child.