Abstinence-Only and Comprehensive Sex Education and the Initiation of Sexual Activity and Teen Pregnancy
Comprehensive sex education is a better deterrent of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases than abstinence-only education, says a report from a team of researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Students who were taught a comprehensive sex education curriculum had a 50 percent lower risk of getting pregnant or impregnating someone than students who had received an abstinence-only education or no sex education at all. The study also found that adolescents from urban, lower-income African-American families in which the mother and father were not living together were more likely than other groups to have had sex and to be at risk for getting sexually transmitted diseases. However, the rates declined when such adolescents had received some form of sex education.
Researchers found that the 9 percent of teenagers who had received no sex education were generally in low-income and rural areas, while the 67 percent of those who had received comprehensive sex education were from higher-income and urban areas. About half the adolescents studied reported being sexually active.
Data for the report came from a survey of 1,700 male and female adolescents, ages 15 to 19, by the Hyattsville, Md.-based National Center for Health Statistics in 2002.