Abstinence-only programs might work, study saysOf course, this study could be wrong or may mask the real cause of the apparent benefits. For example, Todd Feinburg speculates that, "It could be that the regular sex ed classes are really effective at encouraging kids to be sexually active, and the benefit of abstinence only is keeping kids out of those classes." You know, that's not an entirely unreasonable thought.
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
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 findings are the first clear evidence that an abstinence program could work.
"I think we've written off abstinence-only education without looking closely at the nature of the evidence," said John B. Jemmott III, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who led the federally funded study. "Our study shows this could be one approach that could be used."
I don't know all the answers on this or any other topic. However, I do worry that some of the education kids get does more harm than good and is designed not to just give information but to shape behavior and attitudes in ways that undermine what many parents wish to achieve in raising their children.