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Teen Sexual Health In Iowa

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- The days of sex being a conversation between adults is long gone.


"We're starting off at a younger age, we're doing the reproductive system and puberty starting in 4th grade," said Tonya Goodburn, an educator with Planned Parenthood.


Goodburn is leading those conversations in classrooms all around the county.


"That is something that they want to learn, and something that they need to learn," she said.


Though the enthusiasm is there, the execution when it comes to sexual health and teens can be up and down.


The organization 'Eyes Open Iowa' says teen births are down - from more than 3,600 in 2008 to 2,500 in 2012. Goodburn says the sex education in Linn is working, even though more rural areas continue to struggle with teen births.


"There's not as much education out in the rural areas, may not be as many services," she says.


From relatively good news to more troubling numbers - eyes open Iowa says Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are a big issue among teens aged 15 to 19. Statistics from Linn County Public Health back that up.


"They're actually 4 times as likely to be diagnosed with Chlamydia, and they're 3.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with Gonnorrhea than all ages combined," said Katie Jones with Linn County Public Health.


Overall, teens 15-19 make up 20 percent of Chlamydia and gonorrhea cases, even thought they're only 10% of the population.


Stats like this are why educators are making the push at such a young age, with talk that's not just STD's and condoms.


"We talk a lot about communication and abstinence and ways to say no," Goodburn said.


When it comes to the teen birth rate, out of the 99 counties, Linn County is ranked at number 58 in the state, and Johnson County is ranked 97th. The highest birthrate in the state is in Clarke County.

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