Formal sex education is declining in the USA, according to a review of survey data from 2006-2013.“The declines in formal sex education we observed since 2006 are distressing, but unfortunately are part of a longer term retreat from sex education, especially instruction about birth control methods,” said lead study author Laura Duberstein Lindberg of The Guttmacher Institute.

According to Lindberg, in 1995 four out of five teenagers received some instruction about birth control.  The most recent data reports that today only about half that number receive the same instruction.

The interviews used by the researchers were from nationwide surveys that focused on teens aged 15 to 19 years.  Approximately 2,000 boys and girls were the respondents.

The surveys asked if the teen had received formal sex education at school, church, or in a community center or elsewhere prior to age 18. Sex education topics included birth control, STDs, prevention of HIV and AIDs, and just saying no to sex.  Teens were also asked f they had discussed these with a parent or guardian.

“Parents need to talk with their children about sex, about sexuality and about normal healthy development,” not just once, but as an ongoing part of being a parent, Lindberg said. “Parents can also be important advocates for other sources of sex education, working with their child’s school and pediatrician to ensure that their child has access to the education that they need.”

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