Comprehensive Sex Education
Comprehensive sex education addresses the root issues that help teens make responsible decisions to keep them safe and healthy. These programs use a holistic approach to provide young people with complete, accurate, and age-appropriate sex education that helps them reduce their risk of HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and unintended pregnancy. Although strong evidence has shown the effectiveness of these programs, there is currently no federal funding dedicated to this critical component of education.
What is Comprehensive Sex Education?
Comprehensive sex education includes age-appropriate, medically accurate information on a broad set of topics related to sexuality including human development, relationships, decision making, abstinence, contraception, and disease prevention. They provide students with opportunities for developing skills as well as learning. These programs:
Comprehensive Sex Education Reduces Risk Behaviors
In November 2007, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy released Emerging Answers 2007, an authoritative and comprehensive review of research findings on the effectiveness of HIV and sex education programs. This review of rigorously evaluated programs showed many positive results, including:
A 2007 review of 80 studies that measure the impact of comprehensive sex and HIV education programs on the sexual behaviors of young people throughout the world, and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Adolescent Health, found the programs to be effective at reducing risk behaviors:
Comprehensive Sex Education Prepares Youth to Make Healthy Choices
The evidence is strong that sex education programs that promote abstinence as well as the use of condoms do not increase sexual behavior. A series of studies show that the lessons learned in comprehensive sex education programs are critical for healthy decision making during the teen years and beyond.
Leading Medical Professional Groups Support Comprehensive Sex Education
Leading public health and medical professional organizations all stress the need for sexuality education that includes messages about abstinence and provides young people with information about contraception for the prevention of teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and other STIs. Some of these supporters include:
American Medical Association American Academy of Pediatrics
American Psychological Association American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The Institute of Medicine Society of Adolescent Medicine
American Nurses Association American Public Health Association
Comprehensive Sex Education is Supported by the Vast Majority of Americans
Americans strongly support comprehensive sex education that both promotes abstinence and prepares young people to protect themselves when they do become sexually active.
 Kirby D, Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Washington, DC: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 2007.
 Kirby D, et al. Sex and HIV Education Programs: Their Impact on Sexual Behaviors of Young People Throughout the World, Journal of Adolescent Health, 2007 (40):206–217.
 Mark Schuster, et al. Impact of a high school condom availability program on sexual attitudes and behaviors, Family Planning Perspectives, 1998, 30(2):67-72 & 88. And Mauldon J and Luker K, The effects of contraceptive education on method use at first intercourse, Family Planning Perspectives, 1996, 28:19-24 & 41.
 Jennifer Manlove , et al., Contraceptive use and consistency in U.S. teenagers’ most recent sexual relationships, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2004, 36(6):265-275.
John Santelli, Laura Lindberg , Lawrence Finer, and Susheela Singh, Explaining recent declines in adolescent pregnancy in the United States: The contribution of abstinence and improved contraceptive use?, American Journal of Public Health, 2007, 97(1):150-156.
 Policy Statement, H-170.968 Sexuality Education, Abstinence, and Distribution of Condoms in Schools, American Medical Association, accessed 04 January 2007, <http://www.ama-assn.org/apps/pf_new/pf_online?f_n=browse&doc=policyfiles/HnE/H-170.968.HTM>.;
See SIECUS Fact Sheet In Good Company for more examples and complete citations:
 Amy Bleakley, PhD, MPH; Michael Hennessy, PhD, MPH; Martin Fishbein, PhD, Public Opinion on Sex Education in US Schools, Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine,. 2006;160:1151-1156.
 Sex Education in America: General Public/Parents Survey (Washington, DC: National Public Radio, Kaiser Family Foundation, Kennedy School of Government, 2004).
 Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., “Memorandum: Application of Research Findings,” (Washington, DC: Planned Parenthood Federation of America and National Women’s Law Center, 12 July 2007), accessed 2 October 2007, <http://www.nwlc.org/pdf/7-12-07interestedpartiesmemo.pdf>.