Context: Reproductive health education is a key strategy for promoting safe sexual behavior among teenagers. In the last decade, new initiatives in response to AIDS and growing interest in abstinence education may have changed the prevalence, content or timing of the reproductive health education provided by schools and parents. Methods: Formal reproductive health education and communication with parents about reproductive health among males aged 15-19 were analyzed using data from the 1988 and 1995 National Surveys of Adolescent Males. Young men's reports of formal instruction were compared with reports by adolescent females from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth. Results: Between 1988 and 1995, formal reproductive health education became nearly universal among adolescent males: In 1988, 93% of teenage males received some formal instruction, compared with 98% in 1995. The percentage of teenage males who received instruction about AIDS increased from 73% to 97% and the proportion who received instruction about how to say no to sex increased from 58% to 75%. Adolescent males who had dropped out of school received significantly less reproductive health education than those who had stayed in school, however. In addition, the median age at initial instruction decreased from age 14 to 13. Many males did not receive instruction prior to first intercourse, with non-Hispanic blacks being significantly less likely than other males to receive education prior to first intercourse. In 1995, 54% of black males had received reproductive health education before they first had sex, compared with 68% of Hispanic males and 76% of non-Hispanic white males. A smaller share of adolescent males than females received reproductive health education, and males were less likely than females to receive instruction prior to first intercourse. Conclusions: During the last decade, many types of formal reproductive health education for adolescents expanded. Further efforts should focus on assuring access to timely, comprehensive and high-Quality reproductive health education for all teenagers and reducing gaps in access related to race, gender and school attendance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health