Pennsylvania ranks number 40 in the 50 states and the District of Columbia where 1 is the highest and 51 is the lowest in rates of teen pregnancies according to the U.S. Office of Health and Human Services office of Adolescent Health.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, Pennsylvania does not require sexual education be taught to its students, nor does it require the information to be medically accurate. It also does not require the information to be separate from religious beliefs.
According to several students and educators in the Crestwood School District, students take sexual education in 9th grade, roughly around the ages of 14 or 15.
Kasey Rogers, now a sophomore at West Chester University of Pennsylvania and graduate of the class of 2011, said this age is too late in a student’s life to be introduced to sexual education.
“The fact is kids start experimenting before high school. Everyone should know about contraception, STDS/STIS , consent, all of that, before they hit puberty,” Rodgers said.
Wyatt Mitchell also a graduate of the Class of 2011, and a native of Baltimore, said that his school taught sex education in 5th grade which he feels has led him to make more informed sexual decisions.
“ I don’t think I’ve ever had sex without a condom,” Mitchell said, also including that school was really his only method of sexual education.
Debbie Macri, a health and physical education teacher said that she believes sex education should always be part of the discussion, but should be appropriate for the student’s chronological and emotional age.
“There are still students who don’t want to hear or discuss anything regarding sexual content. Few students believe that they know everything about sex education. There are some students that want to learn about sex education,” Macri said.
Alison Carr, a health and physical education teacher at Crestwood middle school says although some students are still immature to handle the nature of such an adult topic, she thinks it should be introduced earlier.
“A part of me wishes Crestwood would have health education starting earlier so that we could have introduced sex education sooner,” Carr said. “I also hear many conversations mostly ones I wish I didn’t hear about what was going on in the building and what happened after school parties.”
Rogers admits to having sex at a young age, and although she says she believes it should have been taught earlier, she thinks that sex education clears up a lot of myths and is helpful.
“There’s a lot of misinformation floating around among young people. Sex ed gives them a reliable source of real facts, instead of having to rely on their peers or the internet,” Rogers said.
Pennsylvania’s sexual education curriculums may need some adjusting over time, but they seem to be heading in the right direction.
Next: How a lack of sexual education changed the life of an ordinary high school student into a teenage mother.