Comprehensive health education efforts have helped curb some risky sexual behavior among West Virginia youth over the past 20 years, a state official told a panel of lawmakers Monday.
But Don Chapman, head of the office of healthy schools for the state Department of Education, is confident that factors outside educators' control, like the Sissonville-based television show "Buckwild," aren't helping.
"It's our society in general, and our attitudes toward sexual behavior and other risky behavior, too," Chapman said.
During a presentation to a legislative committee on student wellness, Chapman said the state has seen noticeable improvement in sexual behavior among West Virginia youth.
From 1993 to 2011, the number of West Virginia high school students having sex dropped from 63 percent to 51 percent, according to data Chapman presented from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The 2011 national average was 47 percent.
The number of students not using a condom also fell from 50 percent to 40 percent - the same as the national average.
Students not using birth control pills dropped from 80 percent to 75 percent, better than the 82 percent national average.
Those numbers reflect improvement, but it's not enough, Chapman said.
Students need comprehensive health education; Chapman explained that means combining sex education with lessons on nutrition, health and general decision-making.
There are several factors working against the school system.