Study finds abstinence-only teaching effective in delaying teen sex
Score one for the abstinence movement: a study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, found abstinence only teaching helped delay the age teens are having sex by as much as two years. Now, before you start cursing at the fact that the religious right is going to use this study to keep funding their veiled religious sexual education program, it’s important to note even the people conducting the study stressed abstinence programs are not effective in the long term. That’s because most programs misinform kids about various forms of birth control, and this is one of the main reasons why teen pregnancy rates in the US are so high.
… more than half of the students who were taught about safe sex and condom use reported having intercourse by the two-year mark, and more than 40 percent of students who received either an eight- or 12-hour lesson incorporating both abstinence education and safe sex reported having sex at two years.
So basically, abstinence only programs might delay the age kids have sex, but it doesn’t do a very good job at preventing these same kids from having babies when they are way too young.
I’m not actually surprised with the study, since it reflects the same studies which have been conducted regarding drug education programs; it turns out if you teach kids about their options, they are more likely to be curious and try them. The difference, of course, is they are less likely to make POOR decisions, which is really what education is all about. Look, you can’t stop kids from having sex (even less so than drugs); they’re hardwired by billions of years of evolution to crave it. Failing to teach kids about their options, however, is the real irresponsible thing here, and parents are sacrificing their children’s long term future in the vain hope they’ll “wait a little longer”. By delaying the inevitable and being deceptive about contraceptives and condom use, parents may have a little peace of mind, but it certainly isn’t worth the trade off.
NOTE: Turns out that it’s not even an “abstinence only” program they studied, but it was actually part of a broader sex ed program that encouraged kids to wait until they were ready while still providing information about proper birth control. This probably won’t do anything to dissuade religious folks from thinking their childish programs work, but that’s not really news, is it?
(props to James for pointing this out)