Public Health

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Should our democracy require schools to provide sex education programs that include contraceptive education?

Sometimes very personal decisions made by individuals can affect society as a whole. When teenagers make decisions that lead to unintended pregnancy, they can negatively affect the common good. Teenage pregnancy is a major public health problem around the world. Many governments are trying to find solutions. One option is for schools to provide sex education programs that teach students about contraceptives. But such programs have sparked heated debate in many countries.

Materials (pdf)

Public Health—Lesson:








Links to Principles of Democracy

The nature of democracy changes and grows along with its citizenry, but it’s always based on principles that help citizens modify, uphold, and strengthen their democracy. Visit the DDA Democratic Principles and Activities page to learn more about the principles underlying democracy and gain access to activities that help students understand the complexity of democracy. 

We’ve identified some democratic principles addressed in this lesson “Should our democracy require schools to provide sex education programs that include contraceptive education?” What principles might you add to the list below?

Please click here for a pdf of the fourteen principles handout on our Democratic Principles & Activities page.


Economic Freedom


Economic Freedom
People in a democracy must have some form of economic freedom. This means that the government allows some private ownership of property and businesses.  People are allowed to choose their own work and to join labor unions. The role the government should play in the economy is debated, but it is generally accepted that free markets should exist in a democracy and the state (government) should not totally control the economy.  Some people argue that the state should play a stronger role in countries where great inequality of wealth exists due to past discrimination or other unfair practices.


In a democracy all individuals are valued equally, have equal opportunities, and may not be discriminated against because of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. Individuals and groups maintain their rights to have different cultures, personalities, languages, and beliefs. All are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law without discrimination.

Human Rights

humanrights Human Rights
All democracies strive to value human life and dignity and to respect and protect the human rights of citizens.  Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

Movement: Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of his or her country. Everyone has the right to leave and to return to his or her country.  (Article 13, Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Religion: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.  This right includes freedom to change his or her religion and to worship alone or in community with others. It also includes the right to not worship or hold religious beliefs.  (Article 18, UDHR)

Speech: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.  This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information with others. (Article19. UDHR)

Assembly: Everyone has the right to organize peaceful meetings or to take part in meetings in a peaceful way. It is undemocratic to force someone to belong to a political group or to attend political meetings or rallies. (Article 20, UDHR)


Selected Resources

Guttmacher Institute, (accessed June 16, 2011).

Hastings-Asatourian, Barbara, “Contraception Education in Brazil,” The Practicing Midwife (February 2005), (accessed June 16, 2011).

Kantt, Nathalie, “Obligan a las escuelas a enseñar los métodos anticonceptivos,” La Nación (May 30, 2008), (accessed June 1, 2011).

Koch, Wendy,“Others Not Likely to Adopt School’s Contraception Move,” USA Today (October 18, 2007) (accessed via SIRS Researcher May 31, 2011).

Meyer, Jeremy P., “School Is First in DPS to Offer Contraceptives,” Denver Post (August 22, 2010), (accessed May 31, 2011).

Millennium Development Goals Report 2010 (New York: United Nations, 2010), (accessed June 16, 2011).

Ministerio de Salud Pública (Ecuador), Resumen de la Estrategia Nacional Intersectorial de Planificación Familiar, (accessed June 16, 2011).

New Colombian Law Ensures Free Access to Contraceptives (New York: Women Deliver, December 13, 2010), (accessed June 16, 2011).

Planned Parenthood International, (accessed June 16, 2011).

Redacción Central, "Distribución masiva de anticonceptivos promueve promiscuidad," ACI Prensa (March 7, 2011), (accessed June 16, 2011).

Teenage Motherhood in Latin America and the Caribbean: Trends, Problems, and Challenges, Challenges, no. 4 (January 2007), (accessed June 16, 2011).

World Health Organization, (accessed June 16, 2011).