Abstinence education works

A widespread belief among liberal social engineers is that abstinence education doesn’t work and “safe sex” is better. But no one had ever looked carefully at the subject, until now. A new study shows that the conventional wisdom has it completely backwards:

Sex education classes that focus on encouraging children to remain abstinent can persuade a significant proportion to delay sexual activity, researchers reported Monday in a landmark study that could have major implications for U.S. efforts to protect young people against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Only about a third of sixth- and seventh-graders who completed an abstinence-focused program started having sex within the next two years, researchers found. Nearly half of the students who attended other classes, including ones that combined information about abstinence and contraception, became sexually active. . .

The study is the first to evaluate an abstinence program using a carefully designed approach comparing it with several alternative strategies and following subjects for an extended period of time, considered the kind of study that produces the highest level of scientific evidence.

The study shows not only that abstinence education works, but “safe sex” education is harmful. Students who were taught both abstinence and safe sex did slightly better than the control group but much worse than the abstinence-only group. Students who were taught safe sex only (not abstinence) did slightly worse than the control group:

Over the next two years, about 33 percent of the students who went through the abstinence program started having sex, compared with about 52 percent who were taught only safe sex. About 42 percent of the students who went through the comprehensive program started having sex, and about 47 percent of those who learned about other ways to be healthy did.

(Via the Corner.)

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