School going teenagers are less likely to experiment with sex if they're provided with sex education at school.
The finding was based on a study, led by Trisha Mueller, an epidemiologist with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that male teens who received sex education in school were 71 percent less likely to have sexual intercourse before the age of 15.
Similarly, 59 percent of educated female teenagers were less likely to have sex before attaining the age of 15 years.
Meanwhile, males who attended school were 2.77 times more likely to rely upon birth control the first time they had intercourse if they had been in sex-education classes.
"Sex education seems to be working. It seems to be especially effective for populations that are usually at high risk," Mueller said.
In the study, a sample of 2,019 teenagers ages 15 to 19 years, who responded to a survey during a 2002 national study, was reviewed.
Scientists analysed the possible effects that sex education had on the sex lives of teens and it adjusted the results to account for the effects of factors like the wealth of their families.
The analysis found that sex education reduced by 91 percent the risk that African-American females in school would have sex before age 15. In general, however, sex education appeared to have no effect on whether female teens used birth control.
The study, however, did not explore whether classes should teach about contraception or focus entirely on abstinence.
According to the study, students received sex education if they had either or both types of instruction.
While the study suggests a link between sex education and sexual behaviour, researchers did not design it to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the two definitively.
Claire Brindis, interim director of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California at San Francisco: "Some still believe you can't get pregnant if you're standing up or doing it for the first time or if your boyfriend is drinking a lot of Mountain Dew.
"A lot of sex education is about the plumbing — teaching them about anatomy and physiology, what a condom looks like," Brindis said.
"What they really need help on is: 'I'm in the back seat or I'm at a party, and there aren't adults around and there's pressure to do more than make out.' They need help with 'What do I do in that setting?'" she added.
The study will be published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
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