Government-funded sex education programs in US schools are shifting away from abstinence-only for the first time in more than a decade.
A five-year, $375 million (about R2.7 billion) grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services is being shared among 28 programs that have shown they lower pregnancy rates regardless of their strategies, the Associated Press reported. Many also distribute condoms.
"There's a growing realisation that we have to talk to young people about relationships. It's not just body parts," said Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the AP said
Critics of the abstinence-only approach say there is little proof those programs reduced the teen pregnancy rate or resulted in less teenage sex.
Although most US teens have had formal sex education, many fewer have been taught birth control methods, a recent Centres for Disease Control and Prevention report noted.
Abstinence programs will still receive a $50 million (about R360 million)annual federal grant that requires states to match $3(about R21) for every $4(about R28), and about 30 states have applied for that money. The new HHS grant does not require matching funds.
(Health Day, October 2010 )