According to the latest research sex education in schools is effective and makes it more likely that teenagers will delay having intercourse.
The new study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that among those teenagers who received sex education in school, boys were 71 percent less likely to engage in sexual intercourse before age 15, while girls were 59 percent less likely.
Epidemiologist Trisha Mueller who was the lead author of the study says sex education seems to be working and to be especially effective for populations that are usually at high risk.
The study which is the first of its kind for a number of years also found that boys who attended school were 2.77 times more likely to rely upon birth control the first time they had intercourse, if they had received sex education.
The CDC researchers also found that sex education reduced by 91 percent the risk that African-American females in school would have sex before age 15, but appeared to have no effect on whether girls used birth control.
Data for the research came from 2,019 teenagers ages 15 to 19 years, who responded to a survey during 2002.
The researchers analyzed the possible effects that sex education had on the sex lives of teens and adjusted the results to account for the effects of factors like the wealth of their families.
The study did not tackle the issue of whether classes taught about contraception or focused entirely on abstinence and though the study suggests a link between sex education and sexual behavior, it was not designed to do so.
Experts say sex education remains important in order to dispel much of the “mythology” about sex and they suggest it needs to provide more than the anatomy and physiology of sex and must confront practical and social issues too.
The study is published in the January issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.