Last Updated: November 2019
Author: Division of Maternal and Child Health, Vermont Department of Health
Research has repeatedly found that sex education which provides accurate, complete, and developmentally appropriate information on human sexuality, including risk-reduction strategies and contraception helps young people take steps to protect their health, including delaying sex, using condoms or contraception, and being monogamous. Comprehensive Sex Education "teaches about abstinence as the best method for avoiding STDs and unintended pregnancy, but also teaches about condoms and contraception to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy and of infection with STDs, including HIV. It also teaches interpersonal and communication skills and helps young people explore their own values, goals, and options."
In Vermont, the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicates:
- 42% of students reported ever having sex.
- Nearly a third of students have had sexual intercourse with at least one person during the previous 3 months. Current sexual activity has not changed over the past decade.
- Current sexual activity significantly increases with each grade level, nearly doubling during the first two years of high school, and doubling again between 10th and 12th grade.
- Nearly one in ten students (9%) reported having had sexual intercourse with four or more people during their lifetime. Since 2007 and since 2015, the percent of students who have had four or more sexual partners has significantly decreased.
- Use of moderate or most effective forms of prescription birth control significantly increased since 2013 and between 2015 and 2017. Overall, half of sexually active students used prescription birth control such as oral pills, an IUD or implant, or a shot, patch, or birth control ring to prevent pregnancy before they had sexual intercourse.
- Since 2013, the use of prescription birth control, among sexually active students, significantly increased from 44% to 47% in 2015, and to 50% in 2017. Most notably, use of an IUD or implant has increased by 10% since 2013 (3% vs 6% vs 13%).
- There is a strong association between type of contraceptive method used and risk of unintended pregnancy. In 2017 half of all sexually active students reported using a most or moderately effective contraception to prevent pregnancy the last time they had sexual intercourse.
- About two in five (42%) students have had oral sex during their lifetime. The percent of students ever having oral sex has decreased significantly since first asked in 2011 (47%).
- Among sexually active students, one in five (20%) drank alcohol or used drugs prior to sexual intercourse. The percent of students who used alcohol or drugs prior to their last sexual experience has decreased significantly since 2007 but has not changed in recent years.
- Among students who were currently sexually active, just over half (56%) used a condom the last time they had sex. Condom use among sexually active students has significantly decreased over the past decade and continued to decrease between 2015 and 2017.