Comprehensive risk reduction sexual education
- Provides information regarding contraception and protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Many efforts emphasize abstinence and delayed initiation of sexual activity in addition to broader risk reduction components
- Can take place in schools (as part of the health curriculum, for example) or in community settings
Strength of evidence
Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)
Proven (highest tier)
Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps
High school-aged children
Outcomes and impact
- Decreased sexual risk behaviors among adolescents in both the short term and long term
- Reduced risk behaviors such as engagement in sexual activity, frequency of sexual activity, number of partners, and frequency of unprotected sexual activity
- Increased use of contraception
- Reduced pregnancy and STIs among adolescents
Keys to successful implementation
- Note: This content is under review
- The CDC recommends that programs develop the capability to understand the many influences in a student's life that can impact sexual health. Students should come away with an understanding of where and how they can access valid and reliable health information, products, and services (like testing).
- Programs should use inclusive strategies that are relevant to and address the health needs of all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.
- Successful programs not only focus on reproductive development and pregnancy, but also on sexual expression, healthy sexual and non-sexual relationships, sexual violence, gender identity, sexual orientation, and healthy decision making.
- Programs should connect students to sexual health services at school and in the community and foster positive relationships between adolescents and community healthcare providers.
- In addition to school-based programming, programs should also be offered outside of school settings, where there is greater likelihood of reaching students that have dropped out of school or are struggling to engage with programming at school.