Abstinence or Sex Education? - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

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Abstinence or Sex Education?

Abstinence or Sex Education?
By: Ryan Tate

With health officials from the State of Illinois releasing new data about teenagers giving birth, the debate between abstinence or sexuality education moves to the forefront.

The Southern Seven Health Department works in the southern seven counties of Illinois. Health officials teach sexuality education in 12 of 14 high schools in that region and 14 of 20 elementary schools. Three of those counties: Alexander, Pope and Pulaski, rank as three of the highest in the state for teenagers giving birth. For 2003, the numbers across the seven counties went down slightly.

"Kids need a goal, whether it's education, sports, music, something to occupy themselves instead of being sexually active," Tricia Moehring said. Moehring coordinates programs of teen pregnancy prevention for the Southern Seven Health Department. Moehring says there were 124 teen births in 2003, the same number as in 2002. But with an increase in the total number of births in the region, the percent of teen births actually went down slightly.

While that education is being taught in some schools, Anna-Jonesboro leaders choose an abstinence-based education. Using federal grant money that went up to $50,000, the school teaches abstinence and does not teach about contraception.

"Kids are receptive to this type of education," Lisa Bigler said. Bigler is the Abstinence Coordinator for Anna-Jonesboro school district. "They like to know they have chose in their sexuality, and they don't have to assume they have to have sex." The abstinence program has been at Anna-Jonesboro since 1996.

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