30 November 2011
Report slams abstinence-only education
by George Atkinson
An analysis of states that prescribe abstinence-only sex education programs shows they have significantly higher teenage pregnancy rates than states with comprehensive sex education programs. The researchers, from the University of Georgia, looked at teen pregnancy and birth data from 48 U.S. states to evaluate the effectiveness of those states' approaches to sex education, as prescribed by local laws.
The research, published in the journal PLoS ONE, indicates that states with the lowest teen pregnancy rates were those that prescribed comprehensive sex and/or HIV education. States whose laws stressed the teaching of abstinence until marriage were significantly less successful in preventing teen pregnancies.
The analysis is the first large-scale evidence that the type of sex education provided in public schools has a significant effect on teen pregnancy rates, say the researchers. "Our analysis adds to the overwhelming evidence indicating that abstinence-only education does not reduce teen pregnancy rates," said study author Kathrin Stanger-Hall.
As well as teen pregnancy and sex education methods, Stanger-Hall and co-researcher David Hall looked at the influence of socioeconomic status, education level and ethnicity. But even when accounting for these factors the significant relationship between sex education methods and teen pregnancy remained.
"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?" asked Stanger-Hall.
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Source: University of Georgia