(Ivanhoe Newswire) ““ The U.S. has one of the highest rates for teenage pregnancy in the world. This study shows that females are more likely to have an unprotected first sexual encounter than their male counterparts.
“I’m looking at the interaction between sexual education and how it impacts young adolescent sexual behavior,” Nicole Weller, an Arizona State University graduate student working toward her doctoral degree in sociology was quoted as saying. “This in particular was an interesting finding because males usually report that they are having more sex than females.”
Weller’s research looks for answers to questions such as: Are adolescents more likely to have unprotected sex or protected sex? Are adolescents who know the risk of sexually transmitted diseases more likely to use contraception?
“In general, the younger that you are when you have sex, the more at risk you are of contracting a sexually transmitted disease,” Weller said. Teaching adolescents about sex early is vital because the younger they learn the more likely they’ll take precautions when they do have a sexual encounter.
“The younger one receives sexual education, the less likely you are to engage in risky sex,” Weller said.
Weller analyzed data from the National Survey of Family Growth that has been conducted since 1973. It reports information on topics like sexual health and pregnancy.
The data showed that young people are waiting longer than in the past to have a first sexual encounter, but the age when most people contract a STD is lessening.
“Fifteen to 19-year-olds have the most sexually transmitted diseases,” Weller explained. “Even though they are waiting, they are having risky sex and not taking precautions.”
Weller found that African American males and females are more likely to have unprotected sex than their peers because they typically live a lower class lifestyle and may not have the extra money for protection.
Sexual education is prevalent in America’s school system. Schools teach a wide range from abstinence to sexually transmitted disease awareness and from birth control to pregnancy awareness. “It varies in school districts and from state to state. More than 80 percent of students get some type of sex education in the school,” she said. In addition, young people receive sexual education from parents, peers and medical professionals.
Future research will be done to look at the different types of contraception use since some prevent pregnancy, others prevent STDs, and some prevent both. Measurements will be acquired to determine adolescent’s knowledge of different methods of contraception, and whether or not they know which methods are best to use. Weller wants to determine whether teens are having sex with a serious boyfriend or girlfriend or just a random hook-up.
SOURCE: 138th annual American Public Health Association Social Justice Meeting and Expo held on Monday, Nov. 8 in Denver, CO