Texting Sex Ed

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teen texting
A new way for teens to ask red-faced sex Qs, save embarrasment and shame. Is it a good idea?

North Carolina teens have a new way of getting answers to the burning questions they have about sex but may be too embarrassed to ask aloud. Teens ages 14 to 19 can now text the Birds & Bees Text Line, launched in February 2009 by the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of NC, reports Jan Hoffman for the New York Times.

The questions haven't changed much. They mirror those that have long been found in the Q&A columns of teen magazines or anonymously scribbled onto little slips of paper in middle-school health classrooms. The difference? Within 24 hours, each teen who texts a question will receive a personalized, private, factual response from an adult staff member.

The challenge, for staffers such as 31-year-old James Martin, a married father of one, reports Hoffman, is crafting a pithy text response that is chock-full of sexual-health information in a tone at once authoritative and nonjudgmental. Similar programs have launched in Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. As starting in April, California kids could text HookUp 365247 and type in their zip code to receive a message back with the name and location of a nearby health clinic.

Some argue that making sex information so readily available to teens may cancel out messages from parents or teachers about abstinence. Others laud the programs for aiming to reach teens through a medium with which they're comfortable, arguing that texting allows them to ask any sex question under the sun without fear of humiliation or shame.

Teens have always been and will remain curious about sex. These textlines offer them a safe way to have their questions answered by adults, with correct information and a dose of understanding. Ah, and did we mention the price tag for the Birds & Bees Text Line? A measly $5,000 in the form of a government grant from the State Department of Health and Human Services. 

Readers, what are your thoughts? Do you think having teens text sex questions is a good, safe idea?

North Carolina teens have a new way of getting answers to the burning questions they have about sex but may be too embarrassed to ask aloud. Teens ages 14 to 19 can now text the Birds & Bees Text Line, launched in February 2009 by the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of NC, reports Jan Hoffman for the New York Times.

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