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SALT LAKE CITY — Experts from the CDC advise educators and parents to address sex education with teens at a younger age — before they have sex.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals teen girls from ages 15-17 don’t receive health education until after they’ve become sexually active.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said “this represents a missed opportunity” to educate teens in a controlled and medically accurate environment about pregnancy and STDs. The center is particularly concerned about girls ages 15-17, since they “are at greatest risk for poor medical, social and economic outcomes.”
In this age group, nearly 25 percent of girls surveyed had never discussed sexual health with their parents, and 83 percent of girls said they had started having sex before broaching the subject in school.
“We are missing opportunities to deliver prevention messages before younger teens begin having sex” — both how to say ‘no’ to sex and the proper use of contraception, Ileana Arias, the CDC’s principal deputy director, told the Washington Post.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia include information about birth control in their sex-ed classes. According to Think Progress, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association and the National Education Association all endorse comprehensive sex-ed programs.
“The most effective sex-ed programs involve targeting messages to both boys and girls, since they each have an equal role in practicing safe sex and using contraception,” wrote Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress. “But many of the country’s teen pregnancy prevention campaigns focus on blaming girls for their bad choices without putting the same weight on boys’ responsibility, giving the false impression that teen pregnancy is just a female problem.”