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Only Half of Teens Receive Minimum Standards for Sex Education

Disparities exist in receipt of information by gender, race, and location of instruction

Only Half of Teens Receive Minimum Standards for Sex Education
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THURSDAY, Nov. 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Differences in the receipt of sex education exist by gender, race/ethnicity, and the location of instruction, according to a study published online Nov. 4 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Laura D. Lindberg, Ph.D., from the Guttmacher Institute in New York City, and Leslie M. Kantor, Ph.D., from Rutgers University School of Public Health in New Jersey, used data from the U.S. National Survey of Family Growth (2011 to 2015 and 2015 to 2019) to estimate adolescents' receipt of sex education.

The researchers found few significant changes in adolescents' receipt of formal sex education during the study period. Between these periods, instruction on waiting until marriage to have sex declined. About half of the adolescents in both periods received sex education that meets the minimum standard articulated in national goals. From 2015 to 2019, there were significant gender differences in the instruction about waiting until marriage to have sex (females, 67 percent; males, 58 percent) and condom skills (females, 55 percent; males, 60 percent). Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic males were less likely than non-Hispanic White males to receive formal instruction on sexually transmitted infection/HIV, birth control, or where to get birth control before the first sex.

"This research illuminates concerning inequities in the receipt of sex education that may leave young people vulnerable to health problems and violate their right to accurate and timely information," the authors write. "The findings should spur policymakers at the national, state, and local levels to ensure the broader provision of sex education and that school districts serving young people of color are the focus of additional efforts and funding to ensure critical sex education."

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