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PUBLIC HEALTH & EDUCATION | New York City Teenagers Testify Before City Council To Advocate for Sex Education in Schools

PUBLIC HEALTH & EDUCATION | New York City Teenagers Testify Before City Council To Advocate for Sex Education in Schools
[Jan. 10, 2008]

A group of 10 teenagers recently testified before the New York City Council and said that sex education should be mandatory in high schools in the Bronx borough of the city, the New York Daily News reports. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the teen pregnancy rate is 137 pregnancies per 1,000 girls in the Bronx, compared with 99 pregnancies per 1,000 girls citywide.

Although the city Department of Education in October 2007 approved a new sex education curriculum, school principals choose whether to adopt it or not, the Daily News reports (Samuels, New York Daily News, 1/8). The program encourages students to delay sexual activity but provides information about contraception and prevention of sexually transmitted infections (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 10/22/07). Margie Feinberg, spokesperson for the education department, said that although the state does not mandate sex education, the department "supports curricula that encompass comprehensive health education, including sex education."

In an effort to mandate such a program, the teen advocates of Public School/Middle School 218 in the South Bronx started a petition, created a MySpace page online and designed brochures on sex education for teens as part of a community service project for not-for-profit Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation. Nancy Biberman, head of WHEDCo, said the absence of information on the subject in schools is "astonishing." She added, "Teen parenting is a major reason why girls drop out of high school and middle school," noting that there is a "vacuum where information should be" (New York Daily News, 1/8).