Teens who learn about sex in school wait longer before doing the deed and are more likely to be contraception savvy, according to research by The Guttmacher Institute.
The results of the study, which used data from the 2006 to 2008 National Survey of Family Growth, contradicts the popular conviction that sex education encourages adolescents to sleep around.
Researchers questioned 4,691 15 to 24-year-olds about whether they had ever had formal instruction in ‘how to say no to sex’ and in ‘methods of birth control’.
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Birth control: Researchers believe teens who are given formal sex education will be more likely to use contraception
They found that two-thirds of young women and 55 percent of young men received some sort of instruction on birth control and abstinence before their first sexual experience.
About 20 percent said they only learned how to delay sex, while 16 percent of females and 24 percent of males got no sexual education at all.
Of the students who had any type of sex education, 77 percent of women and 78 percent of men had sex before they turned 20.
For young adults with no sexual instruction, those numbers jumped to 86 percent and 88 percent, respectively.
The debate continues about whether comprehensive sex education, where birth control methods are discussed, is better than abstinence-only teaching.
The questions of the Guttmacher study were unable to distinguish fully between the two as some teens given abstinence-only lessons are taught about contraception only to highlight its flaws.
Education: Teens who learn about sex in school wait longer before doing the deed and are more likely to be contraception savvy
But it determined that students who had received some form of sex education were more likely to use contraception during their first sexual encounter compared with those who hadn't received sex ed.
Researchers wrote that ‘It appears that talking with adolescents about sex — before they first have sex — seems to be what is important, regardless of the specific subject matter.’
Like in previous studies, the research turned up some alarming demographic differences in sex education, with minority students and students in lower-income families less likely to receive any sexual education at all.
Effective: Two-thirds of young women and 55 percent of young men received some sort of instruction on birth control and abstinence before their first sexual experience
For example, one-third of minority men received no formal sex ed. Girls from lower-income families with less-educated parents were also less likely than their better-off counterparts to receive instruction on birth control.
‘These demographic groups have poorer SRH [sexual and reproductive health] outcomes, including higher rates of STIs [sexually transmitted infections] and teen pregnancy, highlighting the unmet need for formal instruction in sex education,’ the researchers wrote.