Study: Teens Grow Up Healthier With Comprehensive Sex Education

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A new study using data derived from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth has concluded that teenagers who grew up with formal sex education -- teaching both abstinence and contraception-focused lessons -- later demonstrated healthier sexual behaviors than those who didn't.

"Healthy," in this case, is defined as following safe sex practices -- including using condoms and contraception, delaying sex, and knowing how to say "no."

Researchers Laura Duberstein Lindberg and Isaac Maddow-Zimet of the Guttmacher Institute called the study "Consequences of Sex Education on Teen and Young Adult Sexual Behaviors and Outcomes," analyzing data from 4,691 men and women aged 15-24 -- all participants in the above-mentioned survey.

They found that 66 percent of females with sexual experience and 55 percent of males with the same said they had some kind of comprehensive sex ed (learning about both abstinence and birth control use) before doing the deed for the first time.

Just 18 percent of females with sexual experience and 21 percent of sexually experienced males had abstinence-only lessons before losing their V-cards, while 16 percent of females and 24 percent of males had no prior information at all.

Teens who had some kind of well-rounded instruction ended up waiting longer to have sex for the first time -- though the same could be said for the abstinence-only crowd. However, that crowd was less likely to use a condom at first fuck -- especially the females.

"Sex education is important to teens' healthy development," author Lindberg wrote. "It should cover a wide range of topics, including both how to delay first sex and how to use contraceptives, and should be reinforced over the course of young people's development. Reaching teens with comprehensive information before they have sex should be a key goal."

And though the authors caution that more research needs to be done to see how comprehensive sex ed affects current actions (i.e. it might make a difference at first sex, but does it stick later in life?), they concur that comprehensive sex education can directly be correlated to sexually aware and healthy first-time behaviors.

Read more about the results at the Guttmacher Institute's online HQ.

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