Thursday, February 4, 2010

the pros and cons of abstinence education

From the AP at

Billed as the first rigorous research to show long-term success with an abstinence-only approach, the study released Monday differed from traditional programs that have lost U.S. federal and state support in recent years.

The classes didn't preach saving sex until marriage or disparage condom use. Instead, they involved assignments to help students around the age of 12 see the drawbacks to sexual activity at their age. It included having them list the pros and cons themselves, and it found their "cons" far outnumbered the "pros."

The study appears in the February edition of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. It was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and involved 662 black children in Philadelphia.

The students were assigned to one of four options: eight hour-long abstinence-only classes; safe-sex classes; classes incorporating both approaches; or classes in general healthy behavior. Results for the first three classes were compared with the group that had only the general health classes. That was the "control group" the study used for comparison.

Two years later, about one-third of abstinence-only students said they'd had sex since the classes ended, versus nearly half — about 49 percent — of the control group. Sexual activity rates in the other two groups didn't differ from the control group....

The trade-off-- at least on paper: fewer kids having sex, but those kids know less about sex and may be more prone to STD's and pregnancy.

While abstinence is definitely the best way to go, what do you do with people/children who choose not to abstain?

Of course, educational choice leads away from many of these problems-- at least in terms of their imposition on parents and children. If you want to have A, B, C or D taught to your kids, you should be free to acquire those educational services in a competitive education market.


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