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CDC: One-Third of Sex Education Omits Birth Control

September 16, 2010

A new CDC survey shows about 97 percent of teens report receiving formal sex education by age 18, though around one-third of those students were not taught about birth control methods.

From 2006 to 2008, CDC-sponsored University of Michigan staffers conducted face-to-face interviews with nearly 2,800 teenagers in their homes. Formal sex education was defined as instruction at a school, church, community center or other setting teaching about STDs, birth control, and how to say "no" to sex.

Overall, approximately two-thirds of teens told the female interviewers they had received contraceptive instruction by the end of high school -- 70 percent of girls and 62 percent of boys. By comparison, roughly 92 percent of boys and girls said they were taught about STDs, and nearly that many learned about preventing HIV. Some 87 percent of girls and 81 percent of boys reported being taught how to resist pressure to have sex.

Younger teen girls were more likely than their male counterparts to have talked with their parents about sex and birth control, and how to say no to sex.

John Santelli, a Columbia University professor of population and family health, said data suggest that comprehensive sex education declined from 1995 to 2002, and the current report seems to indicate no change since then. Though the report does not address sex education trends, its findings are similar to those of CDC research conducted in 2002.

The shift in sex education is attributed largely to government policies stressing abstinence-only sex education, which teaches about the dangers of STDs but does not cover birth control. These policies were still in place when the CDC survey was performed, said Santelli.

Other studies show that after years of steady decline, the US teen birth rate rose from 2005 to 2007. It dropped again in 2008, to approximately 10 percent of all births.

To access the report, visit

Back to other news for September 2010

Adapted from:
Associated Press
09.15.2010; Mike Stobbe

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
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