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Comprehensive sex education in middle and high schools has drawn much criticism. Opponents claim that talking about sex encourages students to have sex. However, a recent study conducted at the Guttmacher Institute suggests students who receive sex education wait longer to have sex. Moreover, the study also reveals that when these students decide to have sex, they are more likely to use contraception, compared to students who received no sex education at all.

Researchers looked at data from the 2006 to 2008 National Survey of Family Growth. In the survey, researchers asked 4,691 participants, ages 15 to 24, whether they had received any education about “how to say no to sex” and “methods of birth control.” They also answered questions about their first vaginal sex experience.

Live Science reports, researchers found that two-thirds of young women and 55 percent of young men received some sort of instruction on birth control and abstinence before their first sexual experience, while 16 percent of females and 24 percent of males got no sexual education at all.

Of the students who had any type of sex education, 77 percent of women and 78 percent of men had sex before they turned 20. For young adults with no sexual instruction, those numbers jumped to 86 percent and 88 percent, respectively.

Students who had sex education were more likely to use contraception during their first sexual encounter compared with those with no sex education. They were also likely to lose their virginity to someone more than three years older or younger than themselves.

Researchers find the low rate of receiving any form of sex education rates among teens of color and low-income teens extremely problematic. They wrote, “These demographic groups have poorer [sexual and reproductive health] outcomes, including higher rates of STIs, [HIV], and teen pregnancy, highlighting the unmet need for formal instruction in sex education.”

Researchers didn’t make a clear distinction between abstinence-only education and sex education when asking the students these questions. And there wasn’t any mention of anal sex, which past studies have shown is on the rise among young people.

And while delaying sex may be reassuring to parents, Laura Lindberg, a senior research associate at Guttmacher, emphasizes that there are more benefits to receiving sex ed. Lindberg told Time.com, “It’s that being older at first sex in and of itself is related to more positive sexual behaviors such as being more likely to use birth control and less likely to get pregnant. The fact that sex ed can delay sex a little still has big influences down the road.”