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Fifty-six percent of teachers say that the subject is taught in grade five and 64% in grade six.More than 75% of teachers who teach sexuality education in these grades cover puberty, HIV and AIDS transmission and issues such as how alcohol and drugs affect behavior and how to stick with a decision.The 1999 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found that among American high school students in grade nine, 6% of girls and 18% of boys have had intercourse before age 13 (approximately before grade seven), and that 33% and 45%, respectively, have ever had intercourse.

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Most aspects of the methodology (questionnaire development, fieldwork, data processing and analysis) of the survey of fifth- and sixth-grade teachers are the same as those of the survey of 7th-12th grade teachers and are discussed elsewhere.

[Editor's note: See related article, page 204.] For the purposes of our survey, we defined sexuality education to include any instruction about human sexual development, the process of reproduction, or interpersonal relationships and sexual behavior.

Therefore, this article also attempts to shed light on abstinence-only education and on the methods teachers are using to impart knowledge and skills connected with sexual behavior and its possible health and life consequences.

In 1999, we conducted a survey of fifth- and sixth-grade public school teachers in the United States.

The YRBS data also indicate that 13% of female high school students (grades 9-12) have been forced to have sexual intercourse, as have 5% of males.

This article presents findings from a 1999 national survey of public school teachers in grades five and six.

The nationally representative sample included classroom teachers who teach most subjects, including sexuality education, to one class; teachers in certain specialties—health and physical education and science—who may teach sexuality education; and school nurses.

This survey was part of a larger survey of a nationally representative sample of 5,543 5th-12th-grade public school teachers.

Family Planning Perspectives, 2000, 32(5):212-219 The questions of whether sexuality education belongs in American schools and what subjects should be covered at what age levels have been and continue to be of concern to many parents and communities throughout the United States.

there is little national information that focuses specifically on the teaching of sexuality education in public schools, especially at the elementary level.* In a 1988 national survey, secondary school sexuality education teachers said it was appropriate for many of the topics they were covering to be taught before grade seven—earlier than the subjects were then being taught.

However, when schools that do not provide sexuality education are taken into account, even most of these topics are taught in only a little more than half of fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms.

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