Lawmakers in West Virginia are forming a subcommittee to look at possible new sex education policies the state can implement in order to address the high numbers of teenagers who do not use birth control in the state.

The panel convened on Monday to review statistics about sexual activity among middle school and high school students. At the meeting, Assistant Director of the Office of Health Schools for West Virginia’s Department of Education Doug Chapman told the panel the results of a 2011 survey of 40,000 students and urged the panel to consider a more comprehensive approach to sex education in West Virginia schools.

According to Chapman, the bi-annual survey showed that over half of middle and high school student in West Virginia are sexually active and 75% of those students do not use any form of birth control. In addition, 12% of students reported that they did not learn anything related to preventing HIV/AIDS infection. The statistics showed very minor decreases from results found in 1993 when the survey was first launched (75% down from 79%, and 12% down from 12.9%). Chapman also told the panel that there is no form of health information given to elementary school students.

Erik Wells, the Co-Chair of the committee, told reporters “I think the research has always shown that as you increase education, you actually see numbers go down. I think students, young people want to be informed about the right choices to make and I think that if we increase the degree of education that will help decrease the number of people getting pregnant.”

Currently West Virginia requires that sex education and HIV education be offered in public schools, but there are no regulations enforcing the use of medically accurate or scientifically-based information.

Media Resources: Register-Herald 1/8/2013; ThinkProgress 1/8/2013; WVPubcast 1/8/2013

Group of young students from Shutterstock

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