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HomeHealth & Behavior

Teens and sex by the numbers

We've sifted through the scary stats to get the lowdown on sexual behavior trends among teens. Here's what you need to know to help your child. (Hint: Start talking with them now!)

By Lauren Shanley

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Have "the talk," even if you don't want to

 96 – Percent of students who've had formal sex education in school by the time they graduate high school

Good news on the education front: It appears that all this sex ed could be paying off. According to a recent survey, comprehensive approaches to sex ed appears to help tweens and teens withstand pressures to have sex too soon, and once they become sexually active, to have healthy and responsible relationships. More encouraging findings: Teens are waiting longer to have sex and using more contraception than ever before.

Even so, you're not off the hook: parents still need to talk to their teenagers about sex — even if the subject makes you (and your teen) really uncomfortable. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that teens whose parents talk about sex education have "delayed sexual initiation" and once they become sexually experienced, used more birth control.

These latest stats and facts will help you start the conversation and educate your child on the biggest risks. 

Photo credit: mikebaird

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

07/20/2011:
"I agree with most of the things in this article, I've always talked to my son (now 9 years old) about love & sexuality. Since an early age I've kept it age appropiate of course (about hugging, what girl he thinks is cute or do/does he want to hold her hand etc.) and especially what his friends are doing and what he feels about it all! He will soon be 10 years old and he now comes to me (unprompted) with questions about how me and his Dad met and the littl things like carrying a girls books for her or holding open a door open for her, I feel good about starting this dialogue with my son and encourage all parents to, let your kids know early on that they have a safe and knowledgeable person to talk to besides their peers and the internet and sometimes be prepared to say I won't tell your Dad or your Aunt (so & so) because sometimes when he know's (or at least thinks (wink wink)) he's sworn me to secrecy that helps too! "
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