- Feeling down this holiday season? Help is available (12/5/19)
- Red Cross offers opportunity to help our hurting neighbors (12/3/19)
- McCook among safest cities, but care still in order (11/29/19)
- Gratitude, food health may form a self-fulfilling cycle (11/27/19)
- Oncoming storm may be a blessing in disguise (11/26/19)
- Any day is right day to give up smoking (11/21/19)
- Ready, set -- take a deep breath before you start shopping (11/20/19)
Evidence that abstinence works
With local schools depending on state and federal funding, it's inevitable that political considerations will follow.
Few programs are more controversial than sex education, and with the shift from right to left in Washington, "abstinence only" programs like those favored by conservatives and religious groups have fallen out of favor. President Obama's budget approves $114 million for a new "teenage pregnancy prevention" initiative that will fund only programs that have evidence of success -- which seems like a reasonable requirement, especially critics of abstinency only programs.
They might be chagrined to discover, however, that a new study by reputable scientists has found strong evidence that some "just say no" programs actually do work.
"Efficacy of a Theory-Based Abstinence-Only Intervention Over 24 Months," followed 662 African American students in grades 6 and 7.
The study included an 8-hour abstinence-only intervention targeted to reduce sexual intercourse, an 8-hour safer sex-only intervention targeted to increase condom use, 8-hour and 12-hour comprehensive interventions targeted to reduce sexual intercourse and increase condom use, and an 8-hour health-promotion control intervention targeting health issues unrelated to sexual behavior.
During the 24-month follow-up, of those taking the abstinence-only class were 33.5 percent ever had sexual intercourse compared to 48.5 percent in a control group. Fewer abstinence-only participants, 20.6 percent than control participants (29.3 percent) had sex during the previous three months, and also had fewer reports of multiple partners than the control group.
If the study is true, federal officials should find room in the budget to support abstinence-only programs designed to reduce teen pregnancies.
Government funding can never replace the most effective means of teen pregnancy prevention, of course, personal standards instilled in the home.