Abstinence-only education does not lead to abstinent behavior

States that prescribe abstinence-only sex education programs in public schools have significantly higher teenage pregnancy and birth rates than states with more comprehensive sex education programs, researchers from the University of Georgia have determined.

The researchers looked at teen pregnancy and birth data from 48 U.S. states to evaluate the effectiveness of those states' approaches to , as prescribed by local laws and policies.

"Our analysis adds to the indicating that abstinence-only education does not reduce teen pregnancy rates," said Kathrin Stanger-Hall, assistant professor of plant biology and biological sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Hall is first author on the resulting paper, which has been published online in the journal .

The study is the first large-scale evidence that the type of sex education provided in has a significant effect on teen pregnancy rates, Hall said.

"This clearly shows that prescribed abstinence-only education in public schools does not lead to abstinent behavior," said David Hall, second author and assistant professor of genetics in the Franklin College. "It may even contribute to the high teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. compared to other industrialized countries."

Along with teen pregnancy rates and sex education methods, Hall and Stanger-Hall looked at the influence of , , access to Medicaid waivers and ethnicity of each state's teen population.

Even when accounting for these factors, which could potentially impact teen pregnancy rates, the significant relationship between sex education methods and teen pregnancy remained: the more strongly abstinence education is emphasized in state laws and policies, the higher the average and .

"Because correlation does not imply causation, our analysis cannot demonstrate that emphasizing abstinence causes increased teen pregnancy. However, if abstinence education reduced teen pregnancy as proponents claim, the correlation would be in the opposite direction," said Stanger-Hall.

The paper indicates that states with the lowest teen were those that prescribed comprehensive sex and/or HIV education, covering abstinence alongside proper contraception and condom use. States whose laws stressed the teaching of abstinence until marriage were significantly less successful in preventing teen pregnancies.

These results come at an important time for legislators. A new evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative was signed into federal law in December 2009 and awarded $114 million for implementation. However, federal abstinence-only funding was renewed for 2010 and beyond by including $250 million of mandatory abstinence-only funding as part of an amendment to the Senate Finance Committee's health-reform legislation.

With two types of federal funding programs available, legislators of individual states now have the opportunity to decide which type of sex education -- and which funding option -- to choose for their state and possibly reconsider their state's sex education policies for public schools, while pursuing the ultimate goal of reducing rates.

Stanger-Hall and Hall conducted this large-scale analysis to provide scientific evidence to inform this decision.

"Advocates for continued abstinence-only education need to ask themselves: If teens don't learn about human reproduction, including safe sexual health practices to prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as how to plan their reproductive adult life in school, then when should they learn it and from whom?" said Stanger-Hall.

More information: Stanger-Hall KF, Hall DW (2011) Abstinence-Only Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates: Why We Need Comprehensive Sex Education in the U.S. PLoS ONE 6(10): e24658. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024658

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Nerdyguy
4.6 / 5 (9) Nov 30, 2011
This is just a big ole "duh".

I find it difficult to imagine that any rational adult would think that abstinence-only education would be good for anything other than giving kids more opportunity to daydream about sex (as they are tuning out the conversation).

I've never been able to fathom how this became a political issue. Or, rather, I can't fathom how we let it. Sex is a natural human function, no different from eating or breathing. To deny ourselves is fruitless at best and dangerous to the psyche in the worst cases.

As a father of 3 children, including a 13 year old girl, it's extraordinarily uncomfortable to think of my children having sex (at any age, lol), but by the same token, parents owe it to their children to be certain that they are well-educated, and that they understand sex, its consequences and its potential rewards, in the same way we teach any other subject.


freethinking
1.4 / 5 (10) Nov 30, 2011
How about this question. Since the schools started sex education,

has the rate of teen sex gone up or down?
has unplanned pregancy gone up or down?
has the rate of STD's gone up or down?

I believe (I have no stats right at hand so if anyone has show this or disproves this I would appreciate it) that all three things have gone up since introduction of sex ed.

So, if my premise is correct, perhaps we should not have any sex ed at all.
Nerdyguy
4.4 / 5 (7) Nov 30, 2011
This link, http://www.thenat...;sID=24, shows that the

Change in Teen Pregnancy Rate, Girls 15-19, 1988-2005, went down by 37%.

Further, the same link, in the notes at the bottom, claims that Teen Pregnancies peaked in 1990.
kochevnik
not rated yet Dec 03, 2011
@freeofthinking So, if my premise is correct, perhaps we should not have any sex ed at all.
Why stop there? Why not eliminate all education for women? They only learn how to be sluts and golddiggers, as you proved. We should teach fear. And any women caught dressing provocatively is a whore and should be arrested, like in Salt Lick City! Teach children to be ashamed of their bodies and adults to wear Mormon undergarments so the stench limits sex to procreation.
Nanobanano
not rated yet Dec 03, 2011
freethinking:

Clearly, you are wrong and ridiculous.

Two generations ago people regularly got married at 16 years old, and 10 kids had 10 kids, and I'll bet most of them were un-planned.

===

I'll agree with nerdyguy.

Oppression and legalism, especially sexual, has never solved anything.
freethinking
1 / 5 (1) Dec 04, 2011
None of you guys think other than what you are told to think.

Nono -- are you saying that two generations ago kids at 16 were more mature, able to handle marriage, etc at 16, yet now more people than ever are in their 30's and 40's are still living at home and are unable to handle real life and marriage? Sounds like sex ed and outcome based education really worked for them!

I have 4 kids, when my daughter was 17 I was sure I could drop her anywhere in the world and she would thrive. My 17 year old son, I'm sure could do the same. BTW, I didn't let them participate in the school sex ed program. Yet all my kids have more accurate information than their peers.

also permissivism has destroyed more lives and destroyed more countries than one can count.
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (6) Dec 04, 2011
Congrats on your child abuse. Maybe you and Oliver Manuel can compare notes?
freethinking
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 04, 2011
Accusing someone of child abuse, who you don't know, who you never met, who you really don't know anything about shows the accuser to either be crazy or a lier and hate monger. Wich one is you FH?
AdamRocket
5 / 5 (1) Dec 04, 2011
Freethinking,
Accusing someone who you dont know,
whom youve never met,
who you don't really know anything about...
( Perhaps other than wit, logic, and ability to make logical conclusions based on facts presented, and a sense of humor beyond your ken ) to be "either, crazy, a lier and a hate monger"
shows that your (1) are seriously spelling challenged,
(2) a religious nut-case,
(3) and is falsely deluded into believing that scientific thinkers, ( aks readers of PhysOrg.com ) are as easily blinded by false dichotomys and logical fallacies as standard religious wackos...
(4) It goes without saying since i was told..er.. um...inspired to write this by GOG...God himself...that if you don't accept my teaching on critical thinking ..God himself will doom your soul to the eternal hellfire of circular Logic and fallacious reasoning...
"Wich one is you" Fleethinking?...
Nerdyguy
not rated yet Dec 05, 2011
Accusing someone of child abuse, who you don't know, who you never met, who you really don't know anything about shows the accuser to either be crazy or a lier and hate monger. Wich one is you FH?


Why would you assume he has to be one or the other? It's very clearly both.
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Dec 05, 2011
FYI - AdamRocket is likely one of Herbert's dozens of aliases. He uses them to manipulate the voting system here and to attack anyone who has ever wronged him. It's hilarious. He actually has the time on his hands to follow me (and others) around, vote "1" on anything they've ever published, and use his sock-puppets to disparage.

And, for this, we should respect his view. Sure thing.
Nerdyguy
not rated yet Dec 05, 2011
None of you guys think other than what you are told to think.


That's not a reasonable assumption for the group of people assembled here. Read through some of the other posts, you'll realize views are very diverse.

more people than ever are in their 30's and 40's are still living at home ...? Sounds like sex ed and outcome based education really worked for them!


Irrelevant. You might as well compare their high school algebra scores to their later success in the workforce. Sex ed does not equal = inability to get a job, etc.

yet all my kids have more accurate information than their peers.


Sounds like you've done a good job with your children, for which you are to be congratulated (from a dad of 3). But, your claim about "more info" is really just a guess. Maybe based primarily on your disdain for sex ed?

also permissivism has destroyed more lives and destroyed more countries than one can count.


Agreed.
freethinking
1 / 5 (3) Dec 05, 2011
spelling challenged correct :) I hate spelling! Correct spelling is something only progressives believe in! (Yes that is/was a lame attempt at a joke)

Seriously my disdain for sex ed is because it is forced on parents, does not provide complete and factual information, and when parents object, they are considered close minded. It is another way for the progressive school system to remove parental rights.

Schools not focusing on what it takes to be successful in the workforce does = inablity to get a job. Schools should stop focusing on PC and social work and get back to teaching reading (spelling :)), writing, etc. Telling a kid how to put on a rubber won't help him get a job.
kochevnik
3 / 5 (2) Dec 05, 2011
Telling a kid how to put on a rubber won't help him get a job.
I know for a fact it did and does.

permissivism has destroyed more lives and destroyed more countries than one can count.
So what would you tell the inhabitants of Auschwitz? Look on the sunny side?

BTW, I didn't let them participate in the school sex ed program. Yet all my kids have more accurate information than their peers.
Golly you must have a nice goat farm!
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Dec 05, 2011
Telling a kid how to put on a rubber won't help him get a job.


About that....I can think of one such job.