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Barna: Should Sex Ed Teach Abstinence? Most Americans Say Yes

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Sexual norms and attitudes have changed dramatically in American culture over the years, and today’s young people face opportunities and choices their forbears may not have imagined. With the ease of access to sexually explicit material today, and research showing the reluctance of parents to have candid conversations with their kids, young people are often left to their own devices (sometimes literally) when it comes to navigating the complex world of sex and sexuality. The role of sex education is as important as ever, but the debate among American adults about the right approach to sex education—particularly between teaching safe-sex vs. abstinence—has been ongoing. So how do Americans see their responsibility to educate and equip teens to make choices about sex? A Barna study, conducted in partnership with Ascend, uncovers what adults, particularly Christian ones, believe about the best approaches to sex education.

Millennials See Teen Sex Differently
When asked whether they personally believe it’s OK for teens to have sex, assuming the sex is consensual and a contraceptive is used, 37 percent of all adults affirm such sexual activity among teens—and males much more so than females (46% and 28%, respectively). Sexual behavior is a topic on which generations predictably disagree, and Millennials really stand apart. Among Millennials, more than half (54%) feel consensual, safe sex among teens is OK.

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