Archive for Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Report: Abstinence-only programs don’t affect teen sexual behavior

November 7, 2007


— Programs that focus exclusively on abstinence have not been shown to affect teenager sexual behavior, although they are eligible for tens of millions of dollars in federal grants, according to a study released by a nonpartisan group that seeks to reduce teen pregnancies.

"At present there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence or reduces the number of sexual partners" among teenagers, the study concluded.

The report, which was based on a review of research into teen sexual behavior, was being released today by the nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

The study found that while abstinence-only efforts appear to have little positive impact, more comprehensive sex education programs were having "positive outcomes" including teenagers "delaying the initiation of sex, reducing the frequency of sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and increasing condom or contraceptive use."

"Two-thirds of the 48 comprehensive programs that supported both abstinence and the use of condoms and contraceptives for sexually active teens had positive behavior effect," said the report.

Patra Stephan, a spokesperson for the National Abstinence Education Association, said that the group wanted to examine the study but that there is evidence that an emphasis on abstinence, indeed, has positive results.

A spending bill before Congress for the Department of Health and Human Services would provide $141 million in assistance for community-based, abstinence-only sex education programs, $4 million more than what President Bush had requested.

The study, conducted by Douglas Kirby, a senior research scientist at ETR Associates, also sought to debunk what the report called "myths propagated by abstinence-only advocates" including that comprehensive sex education promotes promiscuity, hastens the initiation of sex or increases its frequency, and sends a confusing message to adolescents.

None of these claims was found to be accurate, Kirby wrote.

Instead, he wrote, such programs improved teens' knowledge about the risks and consequences of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and gave them greater "confidence in their ability to say 'no' to unwanted sex."

But the report noted that there continues to be "too high levels of sexual risk-taking among teens," with 47 percent of all high schools students reporting having sex at least once and 63 percent saying that they have engaged in sex by the spring semester of their senior year.

"Many teenagers do not use contraceptives carefully and consistently," said the report.

About 40 of every 1,000 girls age 15 to 19 gave birth in 2005, the last year for which data was available, the report said.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 7 months ago

Sorry that promiscuity thing didn't work out for you parkay. Is the busybody routine working any better for you?

thebigspoon 10 years, 7 months ago

All name-calling aside, it is incomprehensible to me that anyone, except those receiving the millions granted to them, seriously thought that abstinence programs would work. Kids are still kids, have the same hormonal drives they have always had, and still experiment with everything from sex to drugs to clothing fads, and always will. Get off the fantasy bus and recognize that the only way to make inroads into youth sexual activity is to educate, love and monitor the kids. There will never be a substitute for parental watchdogging and care.

Steve Mechels 10 years, 7 months ago

Well said bigspoon; this isn't the first study that has shown that either. No, I can't back that up right now. If anyone has a problem with my statement google it yourself (and use , not the regular google.)

Richard Heckler 10 years, 7 months ago

Parents preach abstinence and some educate as well. What more can be done?

What is the fear of sex education classes in Junior High School?

By the time children reach high school their hormones get on with it. It was that way 50 years ago. Rumor has it hormones were on the move prior to 50 years ago.

Love the children and understand. Then again all of the children are not engaged in sexual activity. Sex education is smart.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 10 years, 7 months ago

A conservative social experiment gone wrong?

I think most of us saw that coming a long time ago.

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