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July 6, 2015

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10 facts you should know about sex education and teen pregnancy rates in Nevada


Leila Navidi

Evaleen Diaz, 18, at Western High School on Thursday, April 26, 2012. Diaz, a senior at Western, is seven months pregnant.

Should sex education be a school or a parent's responsibility? Or both?

That's perhaps the most contentious question surrounding Assembly Bill 230, which would change sex education in Nevada from an opt-in to an opt-out program.

Currently, state law requires local school districts to teach about the human reproductive system, sexually transmitted diseases and "sexual responsibility." Parents must sign a consent form at the beginning of the year to allow their children to participate in sex education classes.

AB230 beefs up the language in the state law, requiring that districts provide medically accurate and age-appropriate comprehensive sex education, including topics such as domestic violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking. Students automatically would be enrolled in sex education classes; parents may sign a form to opt their children out of these classes.

Proponents of AB230, such as Planned Parenthood, argue these changes would help curb Nevada's teen pregnancy rate, which is the fourth-highest in the nation.

Critics have taken issue with AB230's opt-out clause, which they argue undermines parents' ability to teach what they feel is appropriate sex education to their children.

Here are 10 facts you should know about sex education and teen pregnancy rates in Nevada:

    • Starting point

      The Clark County School District provides comprehensive sex education starting in fifth grade.

    • Early lessons

      In fifth grade, Clark County students are taught about the human reproductive system, puberty, and HIV and AIDS. Fifth-graders also learn about personal responsibility and developing open lines of communication with parents and guardians about sex.

    • Eighth-grade lessons

      By eighth grade, Clark County students learn about the anatomical terms for the male and female reproductive systems, sexually transmitted diseases, the definition of sexual harassment and contraceptives.

    • Continuing education in high school

      In high school, Clark County students learn about the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, implications of teenage pregnancy, and the role abstinence and contraceptives can play in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

    • Teen pregnancy rates

      In 2008 — the most recent data available for all 50 states — the average teenage birth rate nationally dropped to its lowest level in four decades, according to a Guttmacher Institute study released in February.

      The national teen pregnancy rate was 68 per 1,000 teens, a 42 percent decline from its record high of 117 pregnancies per 1,000 teens in 1990.

      In 2008, Nevada's teen pregnancy rate was 84 per 1,000 teens.

    • Nevada rate declining

      Nevada's average teenage birth rate has been dropping in recent years. In fact, Nevada had the second-largest decline — 9 percent — in its teen pregnancy rate nationally between 2005 and 2008, according to the Guttmacher study.

    • Nevada stands at No. 4

      In 2008, Nevada had the fourth-highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, according to the Guttmacher study.

      The highest teen pregnancy rate in 2008 was in New Mexico, followed by Mississippi, Texas, Nevada and Arkansas.

      New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota, North Dakota and Massachusetts had the lowest teen pregnancy rates.

    • Kids Count data

      There were 3,058 births to teenage mothers ages 15 to 19 in 2011, according to a Nevada Kids Count study released this month.

      Blacks had the highest teen birth rate, at 66 births per 1,000 teens. Hispanics had the second highest teen birth rate, at 63 births per 1,000 teens.

    • Abortions, live births even among teens

      About 45 percent of teenage pregnancies in Nevada result in abortion. About 45 percent result in births, and about 10 percent result in miscarriages, according to the Guttmacher study.

    • Cost of births to taxpayers

      In 2006, Nevada spent $83 million in federal and state money to deliver babies to teenagers, according to the Guttmacher study.

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    1. The investment in sex education has shown a favorable return on investment. It is far better to educate and prevent unplanned pregnancy, than it is for the state to pay for a lifetime of social services for the mother and child(ren).

      Where Nevada and the USA governments have failed, is utilizing mental health services, which underlies many of the reasons young people without such care, end up pregnant and having children starting at a very young age. Our country and state MUST improve and sustainably fund mental health services. Emotions are a gigantic influence in the lives of people, and proper care goes a long ways in shaping a person's life.

      Blessings and Peace,

    2. We are willing to be fourth in the nation? In teen pregnancy? This costs our community at least $83 million a year? We scramble during the legislaive session for a hundred thousand here and there to patch up our starving social systems but can't fathom talking honestly to our youth about sexual health and personal responsibility? The reasoning is that we can't do it because their parents should? As a teacher, I do a lot of things I think parents should - I do it because Im concerned about people as members of my community. What are the long term costs? Do these same parents pay for the costs of teen pregnancy or does this burden return to the community? Do we end up paying on the back end - with single parents requiring services, not graduating, or worse? What happens to all these teen parents? Where are the financial conservatives when the long term affects of their religious and socially conservative agendas are tracked long term? Real sex education should be offered in an honest and more affective manner - because $83 million plus costs yet to be determined is too much for our community. And knowledge is power.

    3. No surprise, MTV glorified teen pregnancy and created faux celebrities with a show called "Teen Mom".

    4. For those of you who insist that better sex education is the solution, how would that help prevent repeat teen pregnancies, given that more than 20% of the teen births in Nevada were to mothers who already had at least one child? So that means, that of the approximately 7,500 births to females 19 or under in 2008, approximately 1,500 of those were to people for whom the earlier pregnancy was not a sufficient education as to what can happen with unprotected sex.

    5. Our society as a whole is responsible for the dramatic increase in teen pregnancy, look at what's on TV now. The best thing parents can do is to block the channels like MTV, Spike, TRU TV, Bravo etc etc etc. Reality TV has made this country it's own reality show.