But young people face a barrage of confusing messages.
Along with titillating images from the media, some kids are told to “just say no” to sex.
Since there is no federal law that requires public schools to teach sex education, let alone one that specifies what should be taught, these decisions are left up to states and individual school districts.
Currently 18 states and the District of Columbia require schools to provide sex education and 32 do not.
Conservatives claim the alarming statistics illustrate why abstinence should be the single mantra when it comes to sex ed.In some states, such as Louisiana, kids might learn about HIV/AIDS, but not about any other STDs or how to prevent pregnancy.In other states, like Washington, teens receive information on everything from birth control pills to homosexuality.In school, others are taught how to put condoms on bananas in preparation for the real thing, and still other children receive no information whatsoever.Transcending the cacophony of mixed messages is a host of alarming facts.