Comparative Analysis : Social Problems

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What relevant social, cultural, economic, and environmental factors at the time the policy was developed may have called the policymakers’ attention to the problem? What relevant factors at the time the policy was developed may have impacted what the policy looks like?

A social factor that called policy makers’ attention to this problem is the high numbers in teen pregnancy. In the early 1990s, there were 225 teen pregnancies per 1,000 females (Teen Pregnancy, 2018) costing Texas $1.1 billion annually (Daverth, 2017) A cultural factor would be how one of Texas’s values is faith and family.

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In the 1990s, the biggest religions were Catholic and Baptists (Texas Largest Religious Bodies, 2017). Policy makers were pushing for abstinence-only sex health education.

An environmental factor during this time frame would be that AIDS was the leading cause of death in the US ages 25-44 (A Timeline of HIV and AIDS, 2019). As Texas is the third highest population in the country with people with HIV, Houston alone has 20,000 people living with HIV (Ali, S., & Brooks, D., 2018), people in the mid-1990s with HIV could develop into AIDS in a few years (What are HIV and AIDS, 2019).

Federal funding for abstinence-only programs increased significantly during the presidency of former Texas Governor George W. Bush in the mid-1990s (I Am Pro-Choice: Sex Education, n.d.) A social factor that called policy makers’ attention was among the high numbers in teen pregnancy in the US (Weintraub, D., 2016). Prior to the policy being developed, the teen pregnancy rate was the highest in the nation (California Teen Pregnancy Statistics Facts, n.d.). For five years they attempted abstinence practice but were having no success, there were approximately 100,000 teen pregnancies prior to the policy developed (California Teen Pregnancy Statistics Facts, n.d.).

A cultural factor would be the AIDS crisis that happened in the 1980s and the 1990s in the Castro District. Castro District is known for its culture of openly expressed homosexuality (Lindsey, 1987) where more than 2,000 men died around 1981, and the death toll increased in the high thousands (Lindsey, 1987). The AIDS crisis was also an environmental factor that affected the US, with AIDS being the leading cause of death for people ages 25-44 (A Timeline of HIV and AIDS, 2019). With AIDS taking lives, policy makers began looking at ways to educate the youth. In the late 1990s, California began mandating that HIV prevention be a part of sex education classes (Washburn, D., 2018).

At the beginning of 2003, President George W. Bush announces the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). This would be a five-year plan with $15 billion to address HIV/AIDS, and other diseases in other countries (Cisneros, L., 2011). At the time the policy was developed, were there any demographic characteristics in each state/country relevant to understanding your policy? (e.g., prevalence of your target population, recent changes in size or characteristics of your target population, diversity v. homogeneity)

Demographics at the time the policy was being developed showed that although AIDS was no longer the leading cause of death in the US, it did remain the leading cause of death for African Americans in the age group of 25-44 (A Timeline of HIV and AIDS, 2019). The pregnancy rate for Texas in 1992 was 122 per 1,000. In the late 1990s, black women ages 15-19 there were 120 per 1000 women pregnancy rates, 65 per 1,000 white women, and 142 per 1,000 Hispanic women in Texas (The Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2004). Demographics at the time the policy was being developed showed that the rate of birth in California for teen moms were: Hispanics, 77.3 per 1,000; Blacks, 59.1 per thousand (Weintraub, D., 2016)

California core families are culture, creativity, and diversity. California seeks to support sex education by removing abstinence-only and teaching youth comprehensive sex education and teaching topics like contraceptives, condoms, STDs, HIV prevention, sexual orientation, and healthy relationships (California Values)

Policy Goals:

Stated goals of the policy (what did the policymakers state the policy should achieve –either within the policy itself or in contemporaneous speeches, news articles, etc.) Stated goals of the policy were to present abstinence from sexual activity. Emphasizing that abstinence is the only method that is 100% effective in preventing STDs, pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and emotional trauma (Texas Education Code, n.d.)

Stated goals of the policy were to provide youth with the knowledge and skills to protect their health from STDs, HIV/AIDS, and unintended pregnancy through a comprehensive, accurate information with guidance to have healthy and positive relationships (California Legislative Information, n.d.)


When I was looking at other states that are addressing the social problem of sex education in public schools, I came across the California Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Act. The act came to pass on October 2, 2003. Both policies are similar, except for California teaching a comprehensive evidence based sex education. Since California has passed their act, they have seen lower teen pregnancy rates compared to the U.S. (Shapiro, S., & Brown, C., 2018). The act has been revised and amended a few times since 2003 and is now known as the California Healthy Act. Prior to the act, California taught sex education through abstinence, but after five years of having no success (California Teen Pregnancy Statistics Facts, n.d.), they changed into a comprehensive focus. California focuses on teaching a comprehensive material, focused on covering topics like HIV/AIDS, STDs, condoms and birth controls, consent, and healthy relationships. Since the act has passed, teen pregnancies and HIV/AIDS have dropped drastically (California Teen Pregnancy Statistics Facts, n.d.), the pregnancy rate has dropped by 50%.

Both states have different values and are approaching sex education in public schools differently. California attempted abstinence, but are now teaching through comprehensive education. The act has been changed since 2003, putting more focus on teaching youth materials and clear tools in preparing them on how to engage and how to be safe. Texas has not updated its act since 1995, and a quarter of public schools in Texas are no longer teaching sex education (Pollock, 2017). Sex education in public schools is important because students need the right materials and guidance for them to be educated in how to engage in safe and healthy sex.

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Comparative Analysis : Social Problems. (2020, May 14). Retrieved from