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Media advisory: IU Sexual health expert available to discuss sex education

Editors: Issues surrounding teenage pregnancy are receiving greater attention with the news that the daughter of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is pregnant. Sexual health expert Michael Reece, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, and his colleagues have conducted research involving sexuality education in public schools. He can be reached at 812-855-0068 or

Sept. 9, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The media's coverage of this issue has brought back into the public's consciousness the issue of teenage pregnancy and the many challenging issues related to this that Americans still face as a nation, including the extent to which sexuality education should be provided in the nation's public schools, said Michael Reece, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University.

"While the issue is one for which we have to respect a diversity of opinions across the country, researchers continue to focus heavily on this topic," said Reece, associate professor in IU Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. "Recent research in this area shows that few students in public schools are receiving critical sexuality information in schools, even about the most basic topics like reproductive anatomy. In a recent study we found that less than 7 percent of sexuality education teachers are teaching about the effectiveness of condoms for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. In another national study we found that students who learn about condom use while in high school are less likely to report unintended pregnancies and infections later in life."

Recent research shows that abstinence-only education is not the most effective strategy to ensure the sexual health of adolescents and young adults, Reece says, yet this type of education tends to dominate the educational system in many areas of the country.

"Without a doubt, this will be a continuing issue in American society, with no easy answers, and we will perhaps continue to debate it well beyond the upcoming election," Reece said.

Reece can be reached at 812-855-0068 or