Sexual Health Education in Arkansas

A Blueprint for the Future

If Arkansas is to reduce poverty and increase opportunity for its children and families, we must reduce the state’s teen birth rate. To do that, we have to change what we’re doing. A hodgepodge of local policies and inequitable education isn’t going to get us out of our position with one of the nation’s highest teen birth rates, where we’ve been stuck for more than a decade.

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families began recruitment for a new Sexual Health Education Coalition in 2023. This diverse group represents parents in our state, health providers, abuse prevention experts, and advocates for marginalized groups, who all came together to make recommendations that form a blueprint for change. The group quickly realized that our state has a long way to go to improve access to age-appropriate, effective, and equitable sexual health education. Thinking long-term, coalition members acknowledged that it will take years of incremental steps to improve the quality of education that young people in Arkansas receive.

Sexual Health Education in Arkansas: A Blueprint for the Future outlines the current landscape for sexual health education in Arkansas and how that compares to best practices nationally. It includes a list of recommendations from community-level services to statewide policy change and a timeline for taking pragmatic action.

Understanding that substantial change is needed to reduce teen pregnancy, increase access to contraception, and introduce medically accurate and age-appropriate sexual health education, we hope the blueprint inspires policy makers and advocates to realize what could be reality here in Arkansas to ensure that every young person is empowered to take control of their future.