“Sex is a natural part of human development and ensuring that young people are receiving quality sex education is important,” said lead investigator Laura Lindbergh, PhD, a lead research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, a New York City research and policy organization. , who are having sex, said. and reproductive health and rights.
The study took nationally representative data from the National Family Development Survey for 2 time periods: 2011 to 2015 and 2015 to 2019 in youth aged 15 to 19.1
Between the 2 time periods, there were only a few significant changes in the amount of formal sex education adolescents received.
Instruction to wait until marriage decreased from 73% to 67% among women (P = 0.005) and from 70% to 58% in men (P <0.001).
Furthermore, in both time periods, only about half of teens received sex education that met the federal minimum standard.
At later times, there were significant gender differences in the instruction to wait to have sex for marriage: 67% of women received instruction versus 58% of men (P <0.001).
Condom skills were taught to 55% of women and 60% of men (P = 0.003) in the later period.
However, non-Hispanic white men were significantly less likely than non-Hispanic white men to receive a sexually transmitted infection/HIV, birth control or formal instruction prior to first sex to obtain birth control at a later time period .
Later data also found that many adolescents cited religious settings as sources of instruction to wait to have sex until marriage: 56% of women and 49% of men. But almost no one got instructions about birth control from such settings.
“The evidence suggests that teens in the United States are clearly not receiving quality sex education,” Lindbergh said. Contemporary OB/GYN®, “Indeed, it is shocking that our research shows that young people are less likely to receive information about birth control now than they were 25 years ago.”
In addition, according to Lindbergh, there are disparities among those who have access to sex education based on race, gender and sexual orientation, which leave young people vulnerable. “For example, queer young men are significantly less likely to receive information on essential sex ed topics than their straight counterparts,” she said.
Withholding important information about sexual health infringes on adolescents’ right to accurate, timely information, says Lindbergh, who said health care providers provide teens with the information and services they need for their health and well-being. can help remove it.
“Our schools and communities also need to expand their provision of sex education with the support of federal, state and local policies,” Lindbergh said. “Policy makers should build links to sexual health services for young people who face the greatest barriers to care.”
To start, Lindbergh urged policymakers to fully fund the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and the Personal Responsibility Education Program. “These are federally funded grant programs that support evidence-based, clinically accurate programs to reduce teen pregnancy and STIs,” she said.
Lindbergh also advocated passage of the Real Education and Access to Healthy Youth Act, “which would eliminate funding only for abstinence programs and establish the nation’s first federal grant program for comprehensive sex education,” she said.
In addition, Lindbergh wants the federal government to eliminate all funding for deceptive and incomplete abstinence-only-marriage programs “that harm young people. Instead, this money should be used for sex education programs.” which provide informative and inclusive curriculum.”
- Lindbergh LD, Kantor LM. Adolescent Sex Education Achievement in a Nationally Representative Sample, 2011-2019 Jay Adolsk Health, Published online November 4, 2021. doi:org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2021.08.027