More Teens Having Unprotected Sex

A recent poll reveals rising rate of unprotected sex among young people around the world. Notably, in Britain the rate of unprotected sex among teenagers has increased 19% and in France it has increased a whopping 111%. Here in the U.S., the rate has increased 39%.

The study also took note of young peoples’ reasons for not using contraception. As Jezebel noted, “their reasons for forgoing protection are pretty depressing.” There were many reasons young people cited for not engaging in safe sex practices, but

The most common reason for not using contraception was not having any available — teens mentioned running out of contraceptives, fearing that parents would find them, or being too embarrassed to ask doctors about obtaining them. Other reasons included a partner who preferred not to use it (the second most common reason in Asia and the US), preferring not to use it themselves, getting drunk and forgetting, and feeling that contraception is not “cool.” Both preferring not to use protection and seeing it as uncool were most often reported by men…

While the results of the study are disheartening, experts see a solution to the problem: education. Denis Keller, a member of the World Contraception Day task force, told Reuters that “No matter where you are in the world, barriers exist which prevent teenagers from receiving trustworthy information about sex and contraception, which is probably why myths and misconceptions remain so widespread even today.” Jane Woodside, spokeswoman for the International Planned Parenthood Federation, added,

What young people are telling us is that they are not receiving enough sex education or the wrong type of information about sex and sexuality…How can young people make decisions that are right for them and protect them from unwanted pregnancy and STIs, if we do not empower them and enable them to acquire the skills they need to make those choices?

Education could be the key to making sure all genders are invested in using contraception and therefore that everyone is protected. Jezebel argues that the fact that “preferring not to use protection and seeing it as uncool were most often reported by men” shows that education about safe-sex practices should not be limited to women. Indeed, there is a “need to teach men as well as women the importance of safe sex. It doesn’t do any good to teach girls to insist on condoms if their partners are going to refuse. And gynecologists can’t be the only source of contraceptive information — someone needs to give this information to boys and men as well.”

Here in Pennsylvania, schools are not mandated to teach sex education nor are they required to provide medically accurate information.  In place of comprehensive factually-based sex education, many Pennsylvania schools rely on abstinence-only programs that clearly put our teens at risk. To learn about efforts to ensure that every person in Pennsylvania is given comprehensive sex education and what you can do to help, click here.

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