Thursday, March 27, 2008

One More Piece of Evidence - Abstinence Only Education Doesn't Work

A new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health is making headlines this week. A nationally representative sample of adolescents, which looked at young people who had taken comprehensive sex education, those who had taken abstinence only education, and those who had no sex education at all, found:

Adolescents receiving comprehensive sex education had a substantially lower risk of teenage pregnancy than those receiving abstinence-only or no sex education.

Abstinence-only education had no impact on reducing teen pregnancy, delaying sexual initiation, or reducing STIs.

Teaching about contraception was not associated with increased risk of sexual activity or sexually transmitted diseases.

That disadvantaged youth are less likely to have received formal sex education of any kind.

In short, as the lead researcher, Patricia Kohler, stated “It is not harmful to teach teens about birth control in addition to abstinence.”

The study examined a 2002 federal survey has found that heterosexual teenagers ages 15 to 19 who received comprehensive sex education were about half as likely to report pregnancies as teens who received abstinence-only sex education or no sex education....researchers found teens receiving comprehensive sex education were 60% less likely to report pregnancies than teens receiving no sex education and 50% less likely to report a pregnancy than teens receiving abstinence-only education.

(Summary from our colleagues at Advocates for Youth.)

How many nails in the coffin are needed before Congress stops funding ineffective even dangerous abstinence only programs and BEGINS funding programs that provide young people the information about responsible sexual decision making (including sexual limit setting, abstinence, contraception, and condoms) they need?


ogre said...

What do you mean, doesn't work?

There's a point when you have to stop assuming that something's not doing what it's supposed to... and start asking if what it's supposed to do is different from what people SAY it's supposed to.

People keep insisting on it, even though study after study after study after teenaged pregnacy after STD infection proves that it doesn't. They're either profoundly stupid, or their objective is other than what they say it is.

I'll go with the latter, because the former no longer makes sense.

Abstinence Only Education is a brain condom; it's intended to keep certain ideas, information and thoughts out of the brain of those it's used on.

Debra W. Haffner said...

Yes, OGRE, and it doesn't work. The overarching goal of abstinence only education is for people not to have sex until they are married. Teenagers who take abstinence only education in a few programs delay beginning sex (although not in this national survey), but by months, not until marriage. As for keeping young people from thinking about sexuality -- for the vast majority of young people, that's not going to happen.

Michael Ejercito said...

The overarching goal of abstinence only education is for people not to have sex until they are married.
The average age for first marriage is twenty-seven years . Nobody is going to choose to wait that long.

The people who insist that this works are those who failed to have sex, so instead of fixing themselves so that other people will want to have sex with them, they go around telling people how "great" it is to be a grown up virgin so that they can make themselves feel better.

But at the end of the day, they are still miserable.