Abstinence-only Programs Might Work?

Posted on: 02/12/10 4:11 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Let’s be honest… the words abstinence-only aren’t very popular right now to the majority. Many people (today’s U.S. voters, for example) would dismiss anything that even bears that title. Too bad… because in the last month, I’ve read several articles about a new study where an abstinence-only program proved effective in its efforts to protect young people against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

The debate is on, with heated responses from both sides. I’ve chimed in on the subject in my blog before¬†with interesting bantar to immediately follow in the comments.

But it’s hard to deny facts. Look at these results as reported by the Washington Post last week:

Sex education classes that focus on encouraging children to remain abstinent can persuade a significant proportion to delay sexual activity, researchers reported Monday in a landmark study that could have major implications for U.S. efforts to protect young people against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Only about a third of sixth- and seventh-graders who completed an abstinence-focused program started having sex within the next two years, researchers found. Nearly half of the students who attended other classes, including ones that combined information about abstinence and contraception, became sexually active.

The article provides detailed results a little further down:

Over the next two years, about 33 percent of the students who went through the abstinence program started having sex, compared with about 52 percent who were taught only safe sex. About 42 percent of the students who went through the comprehensive program started having sex, and about 47 percent of those who learned about other ways to be healthy did.

The abstinence program had no negative effects on condom use, which has been a major criticism of the abstinence approach.

Pretty cool. I’d be curious to see more of these kinds of studies.

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