•   sex education that build on the emerging body of data regarding more effective content, timing, and teacher training for these courses. State laws and policies should be revised, where necessary, to allow and encourage such instruction.  

One component of such courses should stress the magnitude and consequences of unintended pregnancies, and how both males and females can avoid such pregnancies over a lifetime (e.g., through reversible contraception and sterilization, as well as abstinence). Instruction on contraception should include specific information on where to obtain contraceptives, how much they cost, and where to receive subsidized care if expense is a problem. Care should be taken to discuss all available forms of contraception, including emergency contraception as well as such longer-acting, coitus-independent methods as intrauterine devices and hormonal implants and injections. Instruction should include specific material on the details and mechanics of contraceptive use, emphasizing the fact that using many forms of contraception carefully and consistently requires specific skills. Material should also explain the value of using a condom and a female contraceptive method simultaneously to reduce the risk of both unintended pregnancy and contracting an STD.

The committee was impressed by the material suggesting that one of the main information and education sources in the nation—the media—is not helping in the task of conveying accurate, balanced information regarding contraception and sexual behavior, and too often highlights the risks rather than the benefits of contraception. Moreover, the electronic media especially continue to emphasize enticing, romantic, and "swept away" sexual encounters among unmarried couples. Only rarely do they present sexual activity in a manner that supports responsibility, respect, caring and consent, and protection against both unintended pregnancy and STDs. Many television executives decline to advertise contraceptive products because they fear controversy; at the same time, they air advertisements that routinely use sexual innuendo to help sell consumer products and programs that are peppered with sexual activity of all types.

  • The committee recommends that the electronic and print media help to educate all Americans about contraception, unintended pregnancy, and related topics of reproductive health. The media should present accurate material on the risks and benefits (including the non-contraceptive benefits) of contraception and should broaden messages about preventing STDs to include preventing unintended pregnancy as well. Media producers, advertisers, story writers, and others should also review carefully the overall amount and content of the sexual activity portrayed in the media and balance current entertainment programming so that sexual activity is preceded by a mutual understanding of both partners regarding its possible


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