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Why Birth Control Isn't Taught in Some Sex Ed

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly all teens in the U.S. have had some sort of formal sex education, but about a third of them haven't learned about birth control.

CDC: One-third Of Sex Ed Omits Birth Control

CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a teen health expert and the author of "The Body Scoop for Girls," said she's not surprised by those statistics.

"There is no standardization across the board as to how we teach sex ed or reproductive health, if you will, to our teenagers. People who teach the class may not be formally trained. In fact, across the board, only about 18 percent of sex-ed teachers have had formal training in the subject. Some of them may not want to teach the subject. Gym teachers, driver's ed teachers may be told, 'This is what you are teaching.' They might not want to teach it."

"Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith said, "It's almost a throw-away thing in a lot of schools."

Ashton replied, "It can be. Of course, the teacher will bring his or her own values into what they're teaching. This is a difficult topic even for parents, for doctors so it's no surprise that the people teaching it may bring their own issues."

As for birth control in sexual education, Ashton said, "I think, in terms of the subject matter, we are putting this into a social context instead of a medical one. We have to remember the data clearly shows if you give teenagers all the information, they are, in fact, less likely to engage in sex or premature reproductive behavior than if they're only taught selectively about things like abstinence. If they are not taught about birth control, they are more likely to get into trouble."
Ashton said parents need to work together with health professionals and teachers to educate children.

"This is really something should be a group effort," she said.

She added, "… You need to be prepared. Understand as a parent your teen may come to you with a question when you least expect it, you might be driving them in a car somewhere or preparing a meal. Be ready with what you want to say. The other thing is very important be honest and direct with your answers. If you don't know the answer to something, don't be afraid to say 'I don't know.' The other thing is share your expectations and values. You need to say as a parent to your child, 'We expect that you do not have sex until 'x' amount of age, and clearly, open up more discussion."

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