Another study endorses need for sex education

March 20th, 2008 - 3:59 pm ICT by admin  

New York, March 20 (IANS) Comprehensive sex education might lead to fewer teen pregnancies - and there are no indications that it increases the levels of sexual intercourse or sexually transmitted diseases, new research suggests. “It is not harmful to teach teens about birth control in addition to abstinence,” said the study’s lead author Pamela Kohler of the University of Washington in Seattle, Sciencedaily reported.

Parents and educators, especially in India, have long argued over whether students should get instruction in birth control or simply learn how to say no. At issue is which approach will best postpone sex.

Kohler and colleagues examined the results of a 2002 national survey in the US and focussed on heterosexual teens between 15 and 19. The findings - based on responses from 1,719 teens - appear in the latest issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The researchers found that one in four teens received abstinence-only education; nine percent - particularly the poor and those in rural areas - received no sex education at all; the other two-thirds received comprehensive instruction with a discussion of birth control.

Teens who received comprehensive sex education were 60 percent less likely to report becoming pregnant or impregnating someone than those who received no sex education.

The likelihood of pregnancy was 30 percent lower among those who had abstinence-only education compared to those who received no sex education, but the researchers deemed that number statistically insignificant because few teens fit into the categories that researchers analysed.

While they also did not reach statistical significance, other survey results suggested that comprehensive sex education - but not abstinence-based sex education - slightly reduced the likelihood of teens having engaged in vaginal intercourse. Neither approach seemed to reduce the likelihood of reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases, but again the results were not statistically significant.

The findings support comprehensive sex education, Kohler said.

“There was no evidence to suggest that abstinence-only education decreased the likelihood of ever having sex or getting pregnant.”

Still, the study does not show how educators should implement comprehensive sex education in the classroom.

It says that a better understanding is needed of the most effective ways of delivering this type of education in order to maximise audience comprehension and community acceptability.

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