Study: Abstinence-Only Sex Education is Unsuccessful; House Increases Funding

A recent review of ten state evaluations on the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education has found that the programs, which forbid discussion of contraception except to highlight failure rates, have shown no long-term success in impacting the sexual behavior of teens. Specifically, the review released by Advocates for Youth (AFY) demonstrated that abstinence-only programs do not have a long-term effect in delaying the initiation of sexual activity among teens or in reducing their risk-taking sexual behavior. Debra Hauser, author of the report, concluded that “Some of the evaluations indicate that abstinence-only programs may have a negative impact on young people’s willingness to use contraception or condoms once they do become sexually active.” AFY also released a separate report analyzing recent data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the sexual behavior of high school teenagers. The report, based on findings from an independently contracted statistician, found that there has been no statistically significant decline in the number of high school students that are sexually active since the Bush administration’s abstinence-only initiative was put into place. Despite the increasing evidence that abstinence-only programs fail to deter sexual behavior, the US House of Representatives passed a 49 percent increase in abstinence-only sex education funding earlier this month as part of the 2005 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill, Kaisernetwork.org reports. The bill has not yet been passed by the Senate. “These reports provide further indication that the abstinence-only approach is misguided and should be abandoned,” said James Wagoner, President of Advocates for Youth, in a press release. “Thirty years of public health research showsÑand parents agreeÑthat young people need encouragement and support to delay sex and they need information about condoms and birth control to help them protect themselves when they do become sexually active.” JOIN the Feminist Majority


Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 10/04/04; Advocates For Youth Press Release 9/27/04; Washington Times 10/04/04

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