Hastings Women’s Law Journal


The subjects of sexual health education and adolescent sexuality in the United States are at best taboo, and at worst, the sites of serious - and sometimes even deadly- moral and social battles. Abstinence-only education programs are prevalent throughout the country, despite the increasingly common knowledge that they are woefully ineffective at decreaing rates of teen pregnancy and STI transmission. This note examines the failures of sexual health education through another lens: that of juvenile criminal punishment. Hypothesizing that states with more restrictive education regimes will also have stricter criminal penalties for adolescent sexual offenses, the author surveys the intersections of nationwide sexual health education policies, minor consent laws, and arrest and punishment rates of juvenile sex offenders.