Planned Parenthood's Sex Ed Program Get Real Has Some of the Best Results Around, And That's Encouraging

When it comes to sex ed for teens, there has been plenty written about how abstinence-only education doesn't work. Now, research shows that a more comprehensive approach aimed at kids while they're still in middle school is proving to be way more effective. Planned Parenthood's program Get Real does just that, and according to data from the Wellesley Centers for Women, it is producing far better results than programs that promote unrealistic expectations for teen sex and sexuality

The objectives of Get Real are, true to its name, very realistic. The program seeks to help kids "connect self-awareness to responsible decision-making," "apply a decision-making model to real-life situations," and "increase opportunities for conversations with parents/guardians or other trusted adults about their personal, family and community beliefs about sexual health." The goal of the program is to delay sexual intercourse, but unlike a lot of abstinence programs, Get Real does this by using fact-based information instead of the fear tactics — and it's working.

The Wellesley Centers for Women study followed teens from 24 different schools in Massachusetts, some of which followed Planned Parenthood's Get Real curriculum, and some that didn't. It found that 16 percent fewer boys and 15 percent fewer girls who had been through the Get Real program had sex by the end of eighth grade, compared to their peers who had not received education through the same program.

In other words? It's important to provide middle school students with resources to make an educated decision about waiting to have sex, not because there's anything wrong with having and enjoying sex, but because there's a higher likelihood that young people will have a harder time physically and mentally coping with the potential repercussions of sex, like STIs and pregnancy. But to encourage young people to not have sex without providing them with a reasonable "why" can lead to disastrous results. In Mississippi, for example, a state with a very strict abstinence-only education policy, the teen pregnancy rate is one of the highest in the country. It also has the second highest rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia, and the seventh highest rate of HIV.

Hopefully, Get Real and programs like it will begin to see implementation all over the country to change the way middle school students are taught about sex, because abstinence only sex education just doesn't work.


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