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  • Study on Youth Abstinence and STDs: The Bigger Picture

    A recent study hit the news waves earlier this week proclaiming that a statistically significant portion of young adults who say they are sexually abstinent are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD). According to the study, conducted at Emory University, 10 percent of youth that reported no sexual intercourse in the last 12 months tested positive for an STD, with 60 percent of that 10 percent saying they had never had sex in their lives.

    The proposed solution: require that all youth—even those who report being abstinent—be tested for STDs. However, this “band-aid” type—not to mention controversial—recommendation is not a real answer to the problem of sexual activity taking place among the nation’s youth today.

    The authors of the current study suggest that the discrepancy in answers is likely due to a variety of factors: youth contracting an STD prior to the 12 months the study measured, simple testing error, youth contracting an STD from other types of sexual behavior, or participants simply not telling the truth about being abstinent.

    Regardless, what we know for certain—from this research and other studies—is that sexual activity increases the risk of STDs significantly. We also know that young people have much higher rates of STDs compared to the rest of the population. Beyond STDs, research tells us that youth who have sex are more likely to be depressed and do poorly in school, not to mention more likely to get pregnant and become a single parent. (In the U.S., 80 percent of all long-term poverty occurs in single-mother homes.) Additionally, a study released just a few weeks ago shows that couples who initiate sexual activity early on in their relationships report lower satisfaction and stability in their marriages.

    Fortunately, we know that the best way for youth to remain free from these problems is abstinence as a preparation for future healthy marriage.

    Also fortunate is the powerful influence parents can have on helping youth avoid sexual activity. Researchers report a variety of factors that help teens remain abstinent, including an intact family, parents’ disapproval of sexual activity, parental monitoring, and communication about sex and its consequences. However, research also shows that parents are often not as aware of their children’s sexual behavior as they should be.

    Far too many young people are putting themselves at risk by being sexually active. Not only are they putting themselves in danger of STDs, but they risk becoming single parents and ending up in poverty and dependent on welfare. A doctor’s checkup isn’t the answer to avoiding these problems. What youth need is a clear message on the importance of abstinence and strong support from parents.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to Study on Youth Abstinence and STDs: The Bigger Picture

    1. Chris says:

      Well, there ya go.

      I have never smoked at all in my 61 years (and counting!) and about 3.5 years ago I had half my left lung removed due a cancerous tumor.

      So, I suppose we should take a typical Liberal/Statists one-size-fits-all ban of all tobacco products on the entire planet (who knows what the air currents may have transported into my lungs!?), require the mandatory installation of hepa filters on all sources of combustive exhaust (vehicles, factories, ad nuseum)…..

      Or, take things on a case by case basis and deal with things as they come.

      We can compassionately deal with the "yoots" that have been caught in the STD swirl and lovingly attempt to steer others back from the edge of the abyss.

      "The sky is falling, the sky is falling! A piece of it hit me on the head!"

    2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Study on Youth Abstinence and STDs: The Bigger Picture | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    3. jason says:

      Abstinence has already been tried and has a very poor success rate (i.e.., found to increase teen pregnancy rates and is associated with using less reliable contraceptive methods. I can't count how many families that did everything right which had teenagers that had children in high school.

      Instead of being naive and assuming that children with brains that aren't fully developed, especially the portion controlling impulsive behavior, are going to think these things through and avoid having sex, how about counseling the teens about all of the negatives consequences of having sex early and the benefits of remaining abstinent…BUT, and this is a big one, letting them know that if they do decide to be stupid in that regard, they should at least use protection in the form of condoms. It's called comprehensive sex education.

      Try looking at the published data before writing these articles:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20705151

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20472207

    4. mark says:

      Even celebrity can get STDs. No wonder why more and more sexy girls join the largest STD dating site mestd.c om to look for partner. If you infect STD, the people on here are looking forward to your joining them. In fact, they provide STD counseling, inspirational stories, and many care locations. Hope all people feel warm and find love here…

    5. Margaret Mueller, Ro says:

      Jason,

      The study you cite is flawed:

      "Napolitano's reference to studies refuting the efficacy of abstinence includes a national study by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., in which four different abstinence education programs were selected as subjects for a long-term evaluation. This study reported that teen participants in these abstinence programs did not abstain from sexual activity more than non-participants, when measured 2½ to 5½ years after the program ended.

      The Institute for Research and Evaluation (IRE), which has evaluated more than 100 abstinence education programs in 30 states, reported: “The Mathematica study, and the four programs it evaluated, cannot be generalized to represent the efficacy of abstinence programs in general,” and “When held to the same criteria employed by the Mathematica evaluation, comprehensive sex education programs do not appear to work.”

      The Mathematica study has been discounted due to cross-contamination of program effects, a non-representative study sample, using an unusually long follow-up time frame, inappropriate timing of program dose and inadequate utilization of mediator variables.

      The IRE (Institute for Research and Evaluation) report concluded that “Well-designed and well-implemented abstinence programs can reduce teen sexual activity by as much as one-half for periods of one to two years, substantially increasing the number of adolescents who avoid the full range of problems related to teen sexual activity. Abandoning this strategy because of one study containing numerous limitations and shifting to a strategy that has shown little success across a broad range of studies would appear to be a policy driven by politics rather than by a desire to protect American teens."

      The state of Arizona conducted their own study: "The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) issued a final report documenting the success of the program in its five-year history, from 1998 to 2003. In the "Highlights" section of the final report, ADHS reported, "Satisfaction with the program was high among all participant groups":

      • "Among teens, those most satisfied with the program were sexually experienced youths who planned to stop having sex after having completed the program."

      • A follow-up study found that virgins had a 95-percent abstinence success rate, and non-virgins had a 52 percent abstinence success rate.

      Prepared by LeCroy & Milligan Associates, Inc., the ADHS report stated: "A significant shift toward less risky sexual behaviors occurred among sexually experienced teens from school, after-school and community programs; including less alcohol and drug abuse accompanying sex, proportionately fewer reported STDs, greater condom and birth control use and fewer reported pregnancies."

      Studies of abstinence programs in Colorado, Arizona and Texas have shown that Abstinence programs have a positive effect on the decisions of teenagers to delay sexual activity until they are in their twenties. Delaying sexual activity only a few years has a significant impact on males and females depression, and ability as adults to maintain a long term relationship — which is a critical indicator for the healthy development of children.

      Children who are raised in an environment where the father is absent have a 50% chance of graduating from high school.

      Our present public school sex education programs actually teach 'safe sexual' practices. Ask yourself, does this sound like a situation that is more or less likely to foster sexual intercourse, protected or not? This is taught:

      "An HHS study also revealed some startling components of the “comprehensive” sex education programs for teens as young as 13, which include lessons:

      * Advocating showering together as a no-risk activity;

      * Promoting methods for sexual stimulation;

      * Conducting sexual role-play on how to help a partner maintain an erection;

      * Describing how to eroticize condom use with a partner; and

      * Suggesting teens wear shades or a disguises when shopping for condoms so adults and parents won't recognize them."

      Abstinence is not likely to prevent intercourse for all teenagers, but it does give some teenagers the support to delay sexual activity, which is a good outcome. Do the lessons on 'showering together' and 'helping a partner maintain an erection' encourage or discourage sexual activity in teenagers?

      Statistically, how is the working for the teenagers of America? In forty years have we seen a drop or increase in STDs, teen pregnancy, teen motherhood, absent fathers or divorce rates? What is wrong with this picture?

    6. Eric Potter MD Nashv says:

      Dear Jason,

      Your own post contradicts itself. You presuppose that children have immature brains which can't control impulsive and therefore they won't think through "things". Then you propose providing information about "negative consequences" of early sex. Please tell me how you expect more information to remedy the inability to make mature decisions in "immature brains"? Good data in does not fix a poor processor!

      You are also ignoring lots of studies showing the success of abstinence. You can find them very easily yourself.

    7. Tim AZ says:

      This study may actually be correct on the 10 percent figure. It would suggest to me that 20 percent of parents in the U.S. have shared verbally or demonstrated through interactions with other adults by the observation of their youth the Clintonesque definition of the act sex. This however does not justify a solution that would label all of our youth as Clintonians in nature to avoid shame and embarassment for the ten percent of our youth who make poor decisions. This is an attempt at the Clintonisation of America.

    8. P. Elman New York says:

      Being a "smother" mother will only produce more sexual activity once the

      youth is free of the parents clutches.

    9. Bobbie says:

      Why has this become all government? Children come from the actions of two individuals that aren't gay. How did everyone's children become everyone elses problem when this is a private matter and keeping it in the family putting the rightful responsibility on those who chose the act? When brought up under good parenting, children do build self control into their adulthood.

      ABSTINENCE keeps children safe and disease free. DUH!!!! Parents job. We did our part and nobody's pregnant or STD prone…

    10. jason says:

      So the argument against published data in peer-reviewed journals (I cited two of many) is that there are studies which show abstinence only works, only the person saying that can't cite any, yet states that it's so easy I can just look around the corner and find one. How about posting all of these studies then? And no, "studies" aren't links to goofy websites. Try posting an actual link to an actual study, not someone elses words or opinion.

      The other argument is to just say the studies are "flawed", without any explanation what so ever as to why it's flawed, followed by a copy and paste job completely unrelated to the studies I posted?

      And to Eric Potter, you missed the "BUT and this is a big one" portion of my comment and that was, yes, assuming they are subject to impulsive behavior (i.e., they will have sex anyway), at least they might use a condom. Maybe they will or maybe they won't, but at least they'll realize it is an option if they are going to give into urges and have sex early.

    11. Bobbie says:

      How doesn't abstinence work, Jason? Why don't we just put kids eight and older in a government cell? Are you beyond the control of yourself? Need government assistance to relieve you from your actions accountable?

      Or how about being a parent to your children and bring them up accordingly? Holding your children accountable to your children's actions? Why would you want any part of government responsible in this personal matter? ESPECIALLY REGARDING THE YOUTH!

    12. Katherine- Outside U says:

      Preaching only abstinence doesn't work because teenagers are at a point in their lives where sexual experimentation occurs due to the excess of sexual feelings that are building up. This is normal. Exploring sexuality is normal. Not all teenagers are as interested in sex as the teen next to them. I do believe that it is the parent's job to fully explain sex and it's consequences to their children. However, not all parents are comfortable doing this, nor do all parents give their children accurate information.

      I had (IMO) quite good sex education from my parents, who were very open, honest and matter of fact. It came from two perspectives- emotional and physical. The physical side dealt with what happens, contraceptives and physical consequences such as STI's and pregnancy. The emotional side dealt with emotional readiness, relationships, and emotional consequences, such as regret, gossip, and peer pressure.

      Not all teenagers have parents like mine. In which case I can see how it would be wise to have sex education classes that deal with both sides of the sex issue- emotional and physical. This is information that teenagers should have- whether they use it or not.

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