A new report revealed that less than 50 percent of high schools and only 20 percent of middle schools across the United States are teaching the 16 sex education topics recommended by the CDC.

CDC chooses topics for schools to include in their middle school and high school classes. The chosen topics are scientifically proven to lower the risk of young people to develop sex-related diseases. The scope of the topics ranged from fundamental information such as transmission methods of STDs and HIV to the more complex critical communication and decision-making skills.

Every other year, CDC conducts a survey to ask schools nationwide, whether they are teaching the recommended topics. In the latest report entitled 2014 School Health Profiles, it was found [pdf] that schools providing sex education to its students are generally low in percentage and that the rates are highly varied from state to state.

Among the 44 states investigated, Arizona and New Jersey had the lowest (21 percent) and highest (90 percent) rates of high schools teaching sex education to grades 9, 10, 11, or 12 respectively.

In majority of states, less than 50 percent of high schools teach the 16 topics and only three states had a teaching percentage of more than 75 percent.

For middle schools, the proportion of schools teaching the recommended course to grades 6, 7, or 8 ranges from 4 percent in Arizona to 46 percent in North Carolina. No state surpassed the 50 percent mark and most had less than 20 percent compliance.

Almost one-quarter of HIV cases and one-half of all STDs in the U.S. are diagnosed in people less than 25 years old. Although sexual risk behaviors have plummeted from the 1990s to 2000s, the improvement has been impeded.

"We need to do a better job of giving our young people the skills and knowledge they need to protect their own health," said Jonathan Mermin from CDC. He added that that it's critically vital to teach students how to have healthy relationships and prevent sexual risks prior to engaging in sexual acts.

For Stephanie Zaza, also from CDC, sex education imparted in school is a critical chance to provide students with knowledge and skills that can help protect themselves. "Lack of effective sex education can have very real, very serious health consequences," she said.

Now, CDC is collaborating with several agencies to enhance school-based efforts that can help prevent STDs and HIV, among others.

Photo: Vincent Diamante | Flickr

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