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New sex education data released

The federal government released some interesting new information Wednesday about sex education in the United States.

The information comes from face-to-face interviews with nearly 2,700 teenagers between 2006 and 2008. The survey found that an overwhelming majority of teenagers ages 15 to 19 receive formal sex education before they turn 18 -- 97 percent of both males and females, the National Center for Health Statistics reported. While most learned how to "say not to sex," sexually transmitted diseases and how to prevent getting the AIDS virus, only about two-thirds learned about methods of birth control, the report found.

The analysis also found some notable differences between girls and boys. Boys and girls are about equally as likely to have been taught about sexually transmitted diseases and how to prevent getting the AIDS virus. Female teenagers, however, are more likely than male teenagers to report first receiving instruction on birth control methods in high school -- 47 percent versus 38 percent, the researchers found.

David A. Catania, chairman of the D.C. Council Committee on Health, had a hearing last year on problems in the District's sex education curriculum. (Kevin Wolf/associated Press)

A significant proportion of both males and females also reported having talked to their parents about sex. More than two out of three male teens and four out of five female teens had talked to their parents about at least one of six sex education topics. But female teens were more likely than males to talk to their parents about "how to say no to sex"--nearly two-thirds of females had had that conversation--compared to about two out of five males. Males, meanwhile, were more likely than females to talk to their parents about how to use a condom-- 38 percent versus 29 percent.

Click here to hear an audio interview with Joyce Abma, a demographer who worked on the report.

By Rob Stein  | September 15, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Kids' health, Pregnancy, Sex, Teens, Women's Health  
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