"Formal sex education is beneficial for youth who are considered to be at-risk," noted Mueller, who cited as an example the 88 percent reduced risk of initiation sex before age 15 among urban black females who had received any sex education. Urban black teen girls who were still in school at the time of the survey had a 91 percent reduced risk of initiation sex before age 15, the survey found.
The research also showed that boys living in single-parent households were more likely to delay sex past age 15 if they had attended a sex education class.
Mueller and her team were interested in teen sexual decision-making before and after the age of 15, because the federal governments' Healthy People 2010 initiative treats 15 as a dividing line. Healthy People 2010 sets a wide array of health goals for states and communities to achieve over the first decade of this century. One of its objectives: to reduce the number of teens under age 15 who are having sex for the first time.
"First and foremost, the report makes clear that the timing of sex education is quite important. That is, providing sex education to young people at an early age seems quite important in helping delay sexual activity," said Bill Albert, deputy director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
The researchers said the study could not explain why sex education might have a stronger effect in delaying sex among teen boys and black girls, but Albert offered an explanation.
"It is the case that declines in sexual activity among teen boys, as opposed to girls, and African-American teen girls, as opposed to other racial/ethnic groups, have been much more dramatic over the past decade. This
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