Among the nation’s young people, those in the South suffer the worst rates of sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, according to a new study that finds little resistance among parents in the region for age-appropriate sex education in schools.
The report “Sexual Health of Young People in the U.S. South: Challenges and Opportunities” was released by Auburn University at Montgomery’s Center for Demographic Research. It focused on 10 Southern states including Alabama and Mississippi.
Issues such as high teen pregnancy rates can place heavy burdens on government and taxpayers. According to the study, for example, teen-childbearing expenses in the South cost local, state and federal governments an estimated $2.3 billion in 2008.
The report offers a solution, said principal investigator Yanyi Djamba, by encouraging parents, educators, policymakers and young people to demand improved access to quality sex education.
“We knew that abstinence-only is not really working as much as we would like,” said Djamba, director of the AUM Center for Demographic Research. “It’s not a bad thing, it is just not working.”
One of the main conclusions from the report, Djamba said, is that almost 90 percent of parents do not oppose the teaching of evidence-based, age-appropriate sex education in schools.