Abstinence Programs Work

There was a good article from Khouse on abstinence education programs.

Two weeks ago, the world knew nothing of 17-year-old Bristol Palin. Now, because her mother is a U.S. Vice President hopeful, Bristol’s pregnancy is top news. Bristol has decided to keep the baby and marry the father, which pleases pro-life groups. Bristol's pre-marital pregnancy, however, has created a frenzy among those in the "safe sex" crowd. Her mother, Alaska's Governor Sarah Palin, supports abstinence education, and Bristol's situation is being touted as evidence that abstinence-only programs do not work.

A majority of parents want their children to wait until marriage - or at least adulthood - before engaging in sexual activity. There is therefore heavy parental support for abstinence education in schools. Does it work, though? Are hormone-filled teens benefited by being told to wait, or are they destined to pregnancy and disease because they aren't taught about "safe sex?" Contrary to the claims of the comprehensive sex ed crowd, abstinence education does have positive results. While many abstinence-only students still do have sex, the numbers are noticeably less than those who did not go through abstinence training.

Teaching Abstinence Works

In April, 2008, the Heritage Foundation reported that 11 of 15 abstinence programs studied demonstrated significant results. For instance, the abstinence program Heritage Keepers reported, "One year after the program, 14.5 percent of Heritage Keepers students had become sexually active compared with 26.5 percent of the comparison group." Likewise, 9.2 percent of teen virgins who went through the Reasons of the Heart program reported having sex within the next year, as opposed to 16.4 of virgins who did not go through the program.

Many abstinence programs offer students far more than a simple, "Don't do it." They teach teens how to withstand peer pressure and make wise life choices on many levels. Girls who went through the Best Friends program were reported to be nearly 6.5 less likely than those not in the program to engage in sexual activity. The program helped teens avoid more than sex alone, though. According to the report, "They were also 2.4 times more likely to abstain from smoking, 8.1 times more likely to abstain from illegal drug use, and 1.9 times more likely to abstain from alcohol."

Success in Georgia
In 2007, Georgia reported the amazing results of abstinence programs within the state. The teen pregnancy rate for ages 15-17 had dropped 46 percent in 11 years, from 68.3 per 1000 in 1994 to 36.8 per 1000 in 2005. In 1995, the Georgia Dept of Education mandated that abstinence be taught in public schools. Parents were also involved in committees to review sex education programs in each district and get abstinence programs in place. Teen pregnancy rates dropped every year after that.

"There are so many pressures facing our nation's youth today," said Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss, "I think it is very important that we educate our young people about consequences and accountability, and encourage them to make the right decisions and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I believe abstinence education is a necessary investment in their future."

According to the CDC, there is a general trend away from sexual promiscuity among American youth. The number of high school students having sex has declined 12 percent since 1991. The widespread teaching of abstinence through programs like "True Love Waits" in churches and youth groups may have contributed to the decline, even where abstinence is not promoted in the schools. Active abstinence education, however, offers better results than that general 12 percent.

"Comprehensive" Programs Often Fall Short
Good abstinence programs not only tell students the many logical reasons to hold off having sex, but also give teens tools to stick to their decision to wait.

While comprehensive sex ed programs also promote abstinence, the focus on abstinence is minor compared to the focus on "safe sex." According to the Heritage Foundation, abstinence programs direct "71 percent of their page content to abstinence. In contrast, comprehensive sex ed curricula, on average, allocate only 4.7 percent of their content to abstinence; the overwhelming focus is on encouraging teens to use contraception."

Some comprehensive sex ed programs can include material that is sexually explicit and offensive in order to promote the use of contraception. The Focus On Kids curriculum even encourages fantasizing, watching erotic movies or bathing together as activities to do instead of having sex. The U.S. government still spends 12 times more on so-called "comprehensive" sex education than on abstinence programs.

It Starts At Home

Our efforts to prevent teens from giving in to temptation must begin at home. We need to teach our children how to make wise choices while they are still young. We need to help them learn to resist the desire for instant gratification and willingly wait for things that are better. They need to know their own self worth so they will be less likely to give in to peer pressure. Most importantly, we need to help them develop real, loving, personal relationships with Jesus Christ. If our children have a firm foundation in Christ they will be more likely to demonstrate self control when they become teenagers.

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. - 2 Timothy 2:22
Related Links:
Studies Show Abstinence Education Works - The Heritage Foundation
Facts About Abstinence Education - The Heritage Foundation
Abstinence Education Works in Georgia - NAEA
Bristol Palin: Proof That Abstinence-Only Education Doesn't Work - Philadelphia Daily News
Decrease In Teens Having Sex, Increase In Condom Use, CDC Study Finds - Medical News Today

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