Sex Education Associated with Healthier Sexual Behaviors

In Consequences of Sex Education on Teen and Young Adult Sexual Behaviors and Outcomes, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, authors Laura Duberstein Lindberg and Isaac Maddow-Zimet examined whether formal sex education is associated with sexual health behaviors and outcomes using data from 4,691 male and female individuals aged 15-24 from the 2006-08 National Survey of Family Growth. The authors found that receipt of sex education, regardless of type, was associated with delays in first sex for both genders, as compared to receiving no sex education.

The authors found that:

Respondents receiving instruction about abstinence and birth control were significantly more likely at first sex to use any contraception (odds ratio [OR] = 1.73, females; OR=1.91, males) or a condom (OR=1.69, females; OR=1.90, males), and less likely to have an age-discrepant partner (OR=.67, females; OR=.48, males). Receipt of only abstinence education was not statistically distinguishable in most models from receipt of either both or neither topics. Among female subjects, condom use at first sex was significantly more likely among those receiving instruction in both topics as compared with only abstinence education. The associations between sex education and all longer-term outcomes were mediated by older age at first sex.

The authors concluded that sex education about abstinence and birth control was associated with healthier sexual behaviors and outcomes as compared to no instruction.

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