Comprehensive Sex Education is Saving You Money

Comprehensive Sex Education is Saving You Money

By Becca Bolden, April 4, 2014

We were excited to see a recent article in the Huffington Post stating not only that sex education programs are effective, but that they are also saving taxpayers money. The article cited a study that conducted cost/benefit analysis of the comprehensive sex education program Safer Choices. The study found that implementing the curriculum and having sex education in schools saved $2.65 in medical expenses and future economic activity for every dollar invested.

While this particular study only focused on one particular curriculum, comprehensive sex education programs have similar returns-on-investments because evidence-based comprehensive sex education programs all must meet the following criteria:

  • Delay the initiation of sexual behavior
  • Reduce the number of sexual partners
  • Increase use of condoms and contraception when young people do have sex

We know from experience that these outcomes have an impact on the sexual health of young people and it is great to see media outlets also recognizing this and going beyond to show the impact to society. In addition to comprehensive sex education, we also know that increasing access and affordability to family planning and contraceptive services has an enormous return-on-investment for young people and families in Colorado and around the country – look for a Colorado Youth Matter fact sheet on this coming soon!

It is also great to see comprehensive sex education and family planning services on this list along with many other programs, including:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Housing programs for homeless people
  • Home-delivered meal programs
  • Early childhood education
  • Drug-treatment programs
  • Prison education and treatment
  • Needle exchange programs
  • Funding the IRS

While our work is focused on sexual health, we recognize that these issues do not exist in a bubble, and that oftentimes individuals have multiple factors influencing their behavior and health. A young person who is homeless who doesn’t know where their next meal will come from or where they will sleep at night may not have pregnancy and STI prevention at the forefront of their minds. The term we use to describe this is the spheres of influence, meaning all of the different factors that impact an individual, and this is the guiding framework of the Youth Sexual Health in Colorado: A Call to Action. You can read that document to find multiple strategies of integrating aspects of sexual health, such as comprehensive sex education, into various communities and levels of society.

All of these programs listed above have are not only cost-effective for taxpayers but have a vital impact on the communities they serve. If we can begin to bridge the gap between different topics and subject areas and address all of the spheres of influence, we can begin to work together to create more effective systems to better serve our constituents.