Do Abstinence Sex Ed Programs Really Work?
a given that parents want their children to save sex for marriage, for a wide
range of reasons. But how smart is it to make their sex education solely about
abstaining from sex? Doesn't that set them up to get pregnant and contract
sexually-transmitted diseases, out of ignorance?
No, because abstinence sex ed teaches them the medical and health
information they need - "where babies come from" - along with much, much more.
It's just that the sex techniques, contraceptives, abortion availability and
other controversial aspects of the more liberal "comprehensive" sex education
Recent research on five abstinence programs shows that they are valid and
work very well to prevent teen pregnancy and STD's much better than
comprehensive sex ed programs do.
According to Dr.
Joe McIlhaney, founder of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, an Austin,
Texas-based nonprofit scientific organization, a quality abstinence education
program cuts teen pregnancy rates significantly.
In their research
on the Choosing the Best abstinence
program, researchers Stan E. Weed, Nicole Anderson and Lynn Tingle compared
about 200 Georgia middle-school students who attended the program with 140
peers who received four state-approved abstinence lectures in class.
The students who
completed the interactive, multilesson Choosing
the Best program scored significantly higher on abstinence issues than the
But the most
significant finding came a year later, when the students in both groups were
asked if they had started having sexual intercourse. Only 11 percent of the Choosing the Best students said they had
sexual intercourse, compared with 21 percent of the control group.
suggest that abstinence programs need to be well-designed, long-term,
interactive and taught by motivated teachers to be effective, researchers
Data on four other abstinence programs -- Teen STAR, Worth the Wait,
the Choice Game Curriculum and Peers Educating Peers about Positive Values
- indicates they also are much more effective than what's in place in most
abstinence programs as having false or misleading information about sexuality
is unfounded, Dr. McIlhaney said, since the material being cited had already
been deleted from abstinence program curricula or Web pages.
Dr. McIlhaney's organization, www.medinstitute.org