Should dating techniques taught schools
Context: While policymakers, educators and parents recognize the need for family life and sexuality education during children's formative years and before adolescence, there is little nationally representative information on the timing and content of such instruction in elementary schools.Methods: In 1999, data were gathered from 1,789 fifth- and sixth-grade teachers as part of a nationally representative survey of 5,543 public school teachers in grades 5-12.Most aspects of the methodology (questionnaire development, fieldwork, data processing and analysis) of the survey of fifth- and sixth-grade teachers are the same as those of the survey of 7th-12th grade teachers and are discussed elsewhere.[Editor's note: See related article, page 204.] For the purposes of our survey, we defined sexuality education to include any instruction about human sexual development, the process of reproduction, or interpersonal relationships and sexual behavior.The 1999 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found that among American high school students in grade nine, 6% of girls and 18% of boys have had intercourse before age 13 (approximately before grade seven), and that 33% and 45%, respectively, have ever had intercourse.Among female students of all races in grade nine, 8% have had four or more sex partners in their lifetime, as have 16% of male students.Conclusions: A large proportion of schools are doing little to prepare students in grades five and six for puberty, much less for dealing with pressures and decisions regarding sexual activity.
However, little is known about the degree to which U. schools have adopted the abstinence-only approach, particularly at earlier grade levels.
Fifty-six percent of teachers say that the subject is taught in grade five and 64% in grade six.
More than 75% of teachers who teach sexuality education in these grades cover puberty, HIV and AIDS transmission and issues such as how alcohol and drugs affect behavior and how to stick with a decision.
The sample was a systematic random sample that was stratified by category of teacher.
The categories of teachers ranged in size, the largest being fifth-grade classroom teachers (of whom 911 were sampled) and the smallest being health education teachers (of whom 154 were sampled.) The sample consisted of 3,815 fifth- and sixth-grade teachers in the selected categories.
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As they develop physically and emotionally, children in grades five and six will face important decisions.