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  • Abstinence Education Effective in Reducing Teen Sex, Comprehensive Sex Ed Not

    A new study concludes that abstinence-only education had a significant and long-term effect in reducing teen sexual activity.  “The abstinence-only intervention reduced sexual initiation,” reports the study, which is featured in the most recent issue of the medical journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, published by the American Medical Association.

    The study found that a short eight-hour abstinence program reduced sexual activity among youth by a third.  Despite the brevity of the abstinence training the effects lasted a full two years after students left the classroom.  Moreover, if students who took the abstinence course did become sexually active they were not less likely to use contraception.

    In contrast, study found that alternative types of sex ed failed.  “Safe sex” programs (which promote contraception only) and “comprehensive sex ed” programs (which teach both abstinence and contraceptive use), had no effect on teen sexual behavior.  These programs neither reduced teen sex nor did they increase contraceptive use among teens, which is their major emphasis.

    These findings are based on a randomized controlled experiment, the gold standard in program evaluation and designed to produce unbiased results.  The study analyzed 662 African-American 6th and 7th grade students in four public middle schools serving low-income communities in a northeastern U.S. city.  They were randomly assigned to participate in an eight-hour abstinence-only program, an eight-hour “safe sex” program, an eight- or twelve-hour comprehensive sex education program, or a general health-only, non-sex ed program, which represented the control group in the experiment.

    Bolstered by its rigorous randomized controlled design, this study provides important new findings.  It strengthens the existing body of empirical evidence on the effectiveness of abstinence education.  A 2008 Heritage study, for example, reviewed 15 studies of authentic abstinence programs and found that 11 of the 15 studies reported positive behavioral changes among teens.

    These new findings—that abstinence education reduced teen sex, without causing any adverse decline in contraception use, while “safe sex” and comprehensive sex ed programs failed to reduce teen sex or increase contraceptive use—seriously counter the ineffectiveness claim made by opponents of abstinence education.

    Opponents of abstinence are often motivated by ideology than by social science research.

    In recent weeks, abstinence foes launched yet another attack, attributing the rise in teen pregnancy and birth rates, after more than a decade of dramatic decline, to federally-funded abstinence programs.  However, a funding analysis by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that, in the fiscal year 2008, for every dollar the department spent on abstinence education, it spent $4 on comprehensive sex education and family planning services targeting teens.  In FY2008, the department spent $176.5 million on abstinence education. By contrast,  pregnancy and STD prevention programs and family planning services for teens received $609.3 million .

    Sadly, despite the social science evidence, the Obama administration and Congress have eliminated all federal spending on abstinence education and, instead, have created additional funding for comprehensive sex education.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    25 Responses to Abstinence Education Effective in Reducing Teen Sex, Comprehensive Sex Ed Not

    1. Al Smith, Cranford N says:

      Why are Americans, unlike any other people in the world, so concerned about teenagers doing the dirty deed? When I was a teen, I couldn't wait to do the nasty, enjoyed it always, was always careful, and found it to be good clean fun.

      You truly are cunt-servatives.

    2. matthew in Chicago says:

      As you said, it's about the ideology. And the ideology is about control and power.

      When there is no moral absolute they'll do whatever necessary to gain power for themselves and their cause.

    3. Bobbie Jay says:

      Government "safe sex" and "comprehensive sex ed," is a dare. Abstinence education is defined. Tax paid biology is all that's needed. Guardians / parents /society teaches the rest.

    4. Tim, Yardley PA says:

      Given my M.S. Degree in Marketing Science, I can extend with expert opinion that you can make any study say what you want it to say. The fact that you have promote it being unbiased means it was likely biased.

      Teenage pregnancy has skyrocketed in the U.S. and these trends coincide with faith-based abstinence training introduction. Teenage pregnancy is what is important, not teenage sex.

      Of course a person is going to have less sex if they are preached abstinence. They question is whether it impacts teenage pregnancy in the sames. Empirical data suggests it doesn't.

      Because this study focused on teenage sex, not teenage pregnancy, it nothing more than biased research intended to deliver a pre-desired result. Who cares if it reduces sex, that is not the issues. Prove to everyone it reduces teenage pregnancy.

      The Heritage Foundation needs to look at the kids that did have sex despite abstinence counseling a compare teenage pregnancy rates of those kids denied contraception counseling and see if teenage pregnancy rates are higher for those that get abstinence only.

      Do that, we'll believe. Until then, cork the propaganda.

    5. Steve, Provo Utah says:

      An MS in marketing might make you an expert on how to spin a message, but it does not make you an expert in science. Neither does my PhD in Psychology, but I do recognize fallacious reasoning when I see it.

      Rates of teen pregnancy and abstinence education trending together is correlational and not indicative of causality – one might cause the other but they could also be unrelated or caused by a third factor (like a similar rise in comprehensive sex ed programs as explained in the article.) The research described seems as rigorous as we're likely to see — and the claim that it is unbiased does not mean it is perfect, just that systematic rules in study design were followed to eliminate as much bias as possible.

      Also – I'm no biologist but I'm pretty sure it is tough to have pregnancy without sex. Teen sex is the issue – abstinence prevents a whole series of problems for teens — stds, emotional distress, family dysfunction, poverty, etc.

      Keep the propaganda corked indeed.

    6. Bryan, Indianapolis, says:

      Judging by information in some of the media (and Tim's post, above), there's a fundamental disconnect with this essential point:

      "These new findings—that abstinence education reduced teen sex, without causing any adverse decline in contraception use, while “safe sex” and comprehensive sex ed programs failed to reduce teen sex or increase contraceptive use—seriously counter the ineffectiveness claim made by opponents of abstinence education."

      Judging by the article, the left's sex ed and "safe sex" programs cannot make that claim. Anything else truly is … "propaganda".

    7. Jeff, Illinois says:

      In response to Tim from Yardley, PA, I must take issue with your comment that "Teenage pregnancy is what is important, not teenage sex."

      You neglect the issues of STD's, emotional consequences, and school performance with your statement. I think we can all agree that a reduction in teenage sexual activity will have an affect on each of these issues.

      While I understand your concern that the study was designed to prove a specific result, perhaps a better way to raise the issue would be to point to the relatively small data sample, or question the fact that it was limited to "African-American 6th and 7th grade students in four public middle schools serving low-income communities in a northeastern U.S. city." I agree that the results are suspect, but the pregnancy thing diverts our attention in the wrong direction.

    8. Karti Puranam says:

      What I find interesting is that the author choose to omit the most significant aspect of the study. The study did teach abstinence only education, but without any moral underpinnings. There were no "save sex till marriage" or "condoms are bad" messages. Instead the researchers asked the children to list the pros and cons of having sex at their age and evidently the cons were much more than the pros.

      abstinence+religion=does not work.

      abstinence "only" = might work.

      Talk about propaganda.

    9. Tim Az says:

      The reason the left encourages sexual activity among teens is two fold. The number one reason is a teen pregnancy will often lead to a possible abortion. Failing that the teen may likely become a welfare recipient for life and vote liberal. Some will avoid both possibilities and become productive citizens and beat the odds. while a few will make good interns for politicians as history has shown. That is why abstinence does nothing to advance liberal ideology. Therefore abstinence is an unacceptable behavior.

    10. Doug, New Jersey says:

      Tim — I agree with you that teen pregnancy is a significant concern, but reducing teen sex is also critically important. Teen (and younger) sex causes many ill effects, including STDs as well as psychological and other developmental impairments. Simply avoiding pregnancy does not mean that all of the dangers have been avoided, and doing anything to delay the increasingly early onset of sexual activity among teens is a step in the right direction.

    11. Pingback: Abstinence Education Effective in Reducing Teen Sex, Comprehensive Sex Ed Not : USACTION NEWS

    12. Pingback: New study finds focus on abstinence in sex-ed classes can delay sexual activity « Wintery Knight

    13. Seth Eisenberg says:

      Thank you for sharing this research. In a related PAIRS Foundation study of teen mothers and expectant mothers in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, we also found a significant correlation between youngsters learning communication, emotional expression, and conflict resolution skills and their likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors. We hope future programs will take a more holistic approach to helping youngsters make decisions that give them the best chance of fulfilling their potential, including relationship skills that enhance self-worth, self-esteem, and empathy, along with active engagement of parents whose examples at home have the most lasting impact. Even the most well-designed, researched curricula will have a difficult time making a significant, enduring contribution until we more fully address the issues of absence — absent fathers, absent role models, absent parental engagement, etc. Thank you again.

    14. Terrell says:

      I wrote this piece for Salvo magazine on SIECUS, the driving force behind sex-ed: http://terrellclemmons.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/s

    15. Edwardo, Alaska says:

      Here's a novel idea. No abstinence only education. No contraception education. Stop bothering to teach sex education. Let's go back to the 50's when the schools did nothing to teach sex. The rates of STD's and teen pregnancy was very minimal back then. The government should stop doing something. How conceited it is to think they can control people's will through their spending. Tell the government that what others do is none of their business.

    16. Edwardo, Alaska says:

      And most people that promote abstinence education have not practiced it themselves so they're hypocritical. Look at the percentage of people that wait until marriage for sex. Even our parents and grandparents likely didn't wait. Kids see through this level of hypocrisy.

      Bush spend millions of our dollars to promote this. Did he practice it? I doubt it.

    17. Pingback: SEICUS – Sex-ed Subterfuge « The Dartboard

    18. Carol, Roswell, GA says:

      Two things as a mother and grandmother I would like to comment on:

      One, Obama had a real opportunity in his TV ad, which showed three times last night. In it, he said, "dad's take the time to throw the ball with your children, take the time to read them a story.", when he should have said, "dads marry the mother of your child and financially support her, be responsible, be accountable"

      Secondly, I feel if the schools, the mentoring programs, the ministers and the government would teach girls self-esteem and enpowerment and help them to understand that they can go far and to dream big; maybe then the girls would tell these guys who are talking them in to "unprotected" sex, that they are not interested. Kids are going to mess arround and experiment with sex – let's not fool ourselves. What has to happen is the girls need to call the shots and say, "wear a condom." It's a matter of girls' enpowerment and boys being moved aside. Also, the girls who get pregnant do not have the role model at home, the majority of them were born from the same behaviour.

    19. Lauren, Colorado says:

      You're ignorant

    20. Courtney, Texas says:

      As someone who conducts research for a living, let me point out that that study couldn't possibly be used to draw a conclusion for the entire nation. Anybody who knows the first thing about basic statistics could tell you that. First, it was only African-Americans. Second, it was only 6th and 7th grade students. Third, it was in ONE city.

      Do I need to continue?

    21. Pingback: The Left’s Trouble With Abstinence | Caffeinated Thoughts

    22. Pingback: The Left’s Trouble With Abstinence « Sarah Palin Information Blog

    23. Natalie, Colorado says:

      This is in response to the argument that STD's and teen pregnancy is the issue at hand, not teen sex. First of all pregnancy isn't possible without sex taking place, second of all comprehensive sex education is contributing to the issue by giving adolescence a false assumption that as long as they have “safe sex” it will prevent any risk. Taking necessary precautions by using contraceptives does not completely eliminate the risk of an unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services condoms can break and condoms do not guarantee protection from sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms that are not latex are not safe against HIV, hepatitis and the herpes viruses. The absolute only way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases is to refrain from sexual intercourse. Abstinence only education teaches our youth how to make the best possible choice to ensure their physical and emotional well being.

    24. Natali Bohannan, Mid says:

      All sex is bad sex when teens are involved. You shouldn't even teach them abstinence. It's better to just say no to all teaching of sex.

    25. Ricky Dampier says:

      I would like to suggest a great book for teen girls "What You Think You Know, You Don't" by Terrie Lynn. It's an uncut talk with teen girls about sex, relationships, and the reality of being a teen mom.

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