By Emily GreenhillUpdated Jan. 20, 2018 9:20:37Teachers, parents and students have been asking for help with sex education for years, and now it seems there’s an answer.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a report Monday that finds the number of American high school students who have ever had sexual experiences is rising, especially among high school seniors.
“It’s a growing problem,” said Catherine L. McGovern, a spokeswoman for the NCES, adding that many students are unaware of the sexual-education resources available.
The NCES study found that, as of June 2018, 1 in 4 high schoolers said they had at least one sexual experience.
Of those students, 1.5 percent said they reported having sex at least once, according to the report.
That is a 5 percent increase over the previous year, the first time the percentage of high school graduates who had sexual encounters has grown.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation and Incest Research, which tracks sexual assault and the effects it has on victims, released a similar report in July.
In that report, the researchers said that the number, age and race of the people who report having had sexual contact with someone who was younger than them has grown in recent years.
The report also said that more than 60 percent of students who reported having sexual contact said it was in an adult setting, and that many reported that they did not report the crime.
It also said the number was higher for boys, who were more likely than girls to have had sexual experience with someone younger than themselves.
The research has prompted concern in some quarters.
The U.S. Senate is considering legislation that would require states to report on sexual assault rates among all students.
Some lawmakers are calling on the Education Department to take a tougher stance against the sexual assault epidemic, and others are calling for increased funding to address the issue.
In a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D, Minn.) urged the department to issue a national standard on sexual harassment and sexual assault, and to do so within two years.
“The report demonstrates that sexual assault remains a serious problem in our schools,” Franken said in the letter, adding, “the administration must quickly address this issue and work to end the epidemic in America.”
The National Association of Secondary School Principals, a trade group for school administrators, issued a statement on the issue Monday, saying it’s important that sexual violence prevention and education are not left to the discretion of individual school districts or districts alone.
“We urge the administration to take action now, by enacting policies that will provide more effective, targeted resources to schools,” the statement read.
“This would allow schools to focus their efforts on helping students and staff get the most effective, accurate and inclusive sexual education, not the other way around.”
The Education Department said it’s working with the Association of State Directors of Schools and the Association for Education Research and Policy, an advocacy group, to provide information to states.