BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — According to new research from the University of Colorado Boulder, 35% of eighth and ninth graders involved with the child welfare system in Colorado have received information on birth control, and only 42% know how to access such services.

The study, published this month in the journal Children and Youth Services Review, takes a close look at “sexual and reproductive health attitudes among youth with open child welfare cases, including those living in foster homes or receiving services from child welfare systems,” according to this article from the CU Boulder.

“Our study found most of these kids have not received any information about contraception, and they are only about a year away from the average age of first sex,’ said the lead author of the study, Katie Massey Combs. “That should concern people.”

Males receiving less birth control info

Males and younger adolescents had fewer protective attitudes and birth control knowledge, the study found.

“This is a perfect storm,” said Combs. “You have a group of young people who think there is little risk in a risky behavior, and they are receiving very little information about it.”

Gender and age had the strongest associations with birth control knowledge as well as sexual and reproductive health attitudes, according to the study. Males and adolescents aged 12-13 years old reported less birth control knowledge and fewer protective attitudes than older teens.

Looking to the future

The research team from CU Boulder highlights the potential to provide better education for these teens in the child welfare system.

The researchers highlighted “the need for early and gender-inclusive” education around sexual and reproductive health.

“Interventions, services and professionals can help youth navigate a healthy adolescence by building upon the protective attributes that youth already possess and by bridging barriers” to sexual and reproductive health services and education, the study concludes.