For the first time in nearly two decades, New York City schools will start teaching mandatory sex education classes to all middle and high school students. It's part of a city-wide initiative to help reduce teenage pregnancies.
The plan is intended to prevent situations like Michael Watson found himself in as a teenager. He became a father at the age of 16. His girlfriend was just 14 at the time. Six years later, Watson is unemployed and homeless along with his now ex-girlfriend and their little boy. Looking back, he says he never had any meaningful sex education and learned mostly from TV.
"We want to help kids to delay the onset of sexual activity and if they choose, do that in a healthy way," said NYC Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs.
It's all part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's efforts to reach young black and Latino men and improve their chances of success.
"The consequences for them of those decisions as well as for their children are tremendous," Gibbs said.
The city plans to offer sex ed once in middle school and once in high school. The curriculum would cover both contraception and abstinence. Parents who don't approve can opt out.
Planned Parenthood supports it, saying age appropriate sex education should be taught every year. When do you think is an appropriate age to start teaching sex ed? Should they learn it at school or at home?
Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows 41 percent of young people in New York City said they were sexually active by the 9th grade and 58 percent by the grade 12.
According to the CDC, most kids first learn about sex ed in middle school. The CDC says studies show sex ed can be effective in reducing risky behaviors. Parental communication about sex education is key and "is associated with delayed sexual initiation and increased birth control method and condom use."
"As they get older, their questions would be different, the information you would want to provide would be different," said Joan Malin of Planned Parenthood.
Some argue sex ed should be taught in the home, by parents and grandparents. They don't want schools intervening in an subject they think should be left to parents.
The Archdiocese is criticizes the plan saying, "teaching grade school children about sex and condom use is troubling." The church argues even free condom giveaways in schools haven't helped.
Should kids learn sex ed in school or at home? Do you support teaching contraception or abstinence or both? Does sex ed help prevent teenage pregnancies? Leave your thoughts below.