Sexuality Education in Fifth and Sixth Grades in U.S -...

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11/11/2015 Sexuality Education in Fifth and Sixth Grades in U.S. Public Schools, 1999 1/11 DATA CENTER MEDIA CENTER STATE CENTER PUBLICATIONS ABOUT Family Planning Perspectives Volume 32, Number 5, September/October 2000 Sexuality Education in Fifth and Sixth Grades in U.S. Public Schools, 1999 By David J. Landry, Susheela Singh and Jacqueline E. Darroch 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 sixth­grade teachers as part of a nationally representative survey of 5,543 public school teachers in grades 5­12. Based on the responses of 617 fifth­ and sixth­grade teachers who said they teach sexuality education, analyses were carried out on the topics and skills sexuality education teachers taught, the grades in which they taught them, their teaching approaches, the pressures they experienced, whether they received support from parents, the community and school administrators, and their needs. Results: Seventy­two percent of fifth­ and sixth­grade teachers report that sexuality education is taught in their schools at one or both grades. Fifty­six 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. However, when schools that do not provide sexuality education are taken into account, even most of these topics are taught in only a little more than half of fifth­ and sixth­grade classrooms. All other topics are much less likely to be covered. Teaching of all topics is less prevalent at these grades than teachers think it should be. Gaps between what teachers say they are teaching and teachers' recommendations for what should be taught and by what grade are especially large for such topics as sexual abuse, sexual orientation, abortion, birth control and condom use for STD prevention. A substantial proportion of teachers recommend that these topics be taught at grade six or earlier. More than half (57%) of fifth­ and sixth­grade sexuality education teachers cover the topic of abstinence from intercourse—17% as the only option for protection against pregnancy and STDs and 40% as the best alternative or one option for such protection. Forty­six percent of teachers report that one of their top three problems in teaching sexuality education is pressure, whether from the community, parents or school administrators. More than 40% of teachers report a need for some type of assistance with materials, factual information or teaching strategies.

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