In a comprehensive study released Wednesday, the U.N. reaffirmed that sex education does not lead to higher rates of sexual activity among teens, and encourages safer sex practices among those already sexually active.
The study reviewed 68 studies worldwide on the impact of AIDS and sex education on young people. UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said “Failing to provide appropriate and timely information to young people for fear of encouraging sexual activity is not a viable option.” He praised several countries for their comprehensive sex education starting at a young age. Piot said the study will help destroy the myth perpetuated by religious conservatives that sex education will lead to higher rates of sex and STDs. The study shows that students who receive sex education tend to wait until they are older to have sex and have fewer sexual partners, unplanned pregnancies and STDs.
The U.N. still faces obstacles to making sex education global. For example, in many Catholic countries, the Pope has urged parents to remove their children from any programs that teach about condoms, saying it is “dangerous” and “immoral.”