Studies – Abstinence / Pornography / Sex Outside Marriage Research

Abstinence Until Marriage: The Best Message for Teens (12/04)

Summary:  Teens are greatly influenced by the messages they receive about sex in school. It’s time for the government to get serious about fulfilling the president’s promise to level the playing field regarding sexual education funding for the positive and healthy message of abstinence-until-marriage versus that of premarital sex and contraception.         by: Bridget E. Maher The federal government has provided some abstinence-until-marriage funding in recent years, but comprehensive sex education and contraception programs are vastly over-funded in comparison. In 2002, abstinence-until-marriage programs received $102 million, while teen-sex education and contraception programs received at least $427.7 million. In his last budget, President Bush proposed an increase of $33 million for abstinence-until-marriage programs, following upon his campaign promise to try to equalize funding between comprehensive sex education and abstinence programs. This is a good first step, but it still doesn’t bring true parity between these programs. It’s time for our government to get serious about fulfilling the president’s promise to at least level the playing field with regard to funding of the positive and healthy message of abstinence-until-marriage versus that of promoting premarital sex and contraception. Teens are greatly influenced by the messages they receive about sex in school. Unfortunately, the majority of schools teach “safe sex”– “comprehensive” or so-called “abstinence plus” programs–believing that it’s best for kids to have all the information they need about sexuality and to make their own decisions about sex. Abstinence is downplayed while sexual activity and condom use are encouraged in these curriculums, because it’s assumed that children are eventually going to have sex. A 2002 report by the Physicians Consortium, which investigated...

Recent Texas A&M University Study Reviewed by The Medical Institute (2/05)

Researchers at Texas A&M University entered into a contract with the Texas Department of Health to evaluate abstinence programs and recently released their findings. Unfortunately, however, only a small number of programs were included in the study. The researchers at Texas A&M, when interviewd by the media, suggested that the programs were not accomplishing anything of significance. The Medical Institute has done an in-depth evaluation of the entire study as reported below. We feel there are great problems with the Texas A&M research itself and some surprisingly positive implications that were completely overlooked. Below please find our technical report. We hope you will find it useful.  — The Medical Institute Abstinence Education Evaluation — Technical Report Patricia Goodson, BE Pruitt et al. September 2004. Texas A&M University.  A comparison of the recent Texas A&M Abstinence Education Evaluation Phase 5 Report to its extensive press coverage underscores the pervasive media bias against abstinence education.  What is being presented as a scientific study showing failure of abstinence education is actually not scientific at all.  And a careful examination shows that it is the study, rather than abstinence education, that is a dismal failure.  This “study” is riddled with methodologic flaws and data misinterpretations, and — to paraphrase a famous Texan — is shakier than school-lunch jello.   This study involved fewer than 750 of the state’s students, drawn from just 20 of the more than 3,200 schools in Texas.  Though this might have been acceptable had the sample been well selected, the researchers totally ignored generally accepted scientific criteria requiring study participants to be randomly selected if the results are ever to...

Study: Sex and Drug Use Linked to Suicide Risk (9/04)

Teenagers who have sex and use drugs have an increased suicide risk. Researchers analyzed data from a survey of nearly 19,000 American teens in grades 7 to 12 conducted in the mid-1990s. They found that levels of depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts were highest among teens who engaged in high-risk behaviors involving sex and drugs.  Teens who abstained from sex and drugs had the lowest levels. Teens who dabbled in sex, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco were in the middle.  “These results suggest that health-care professionals who identify adolescent patients reporting sexual intercourse or drug use should strongly consider screening for depression and risk of suicide,” study author Denise D. Hallfors, a senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Chapel Hill, N.C., said in a prepared statement. The study found that girls were less likely than boys to pursue high-risk behaviors. But girls who did pursue high-risk behaviors were more vulnerable than boys to depression, suicidal thoughts, and attempted suicide.  Higher socioeconomic status reduced the risk of depression by about half, but it increased the risk of suicidal thoughts. “It is particularly important not to miss opportunities to diagnose depression because effective treatments are available, or to overlook suicide risk, because suicide can be prevented,” Hallfors said. [current American Journal of Preventive Medicine, SEP 29, 2004; HealthDayNews,...

Abstinence, Sex Education & Abortion: The Connection

GOVERNMENT SPENDS $12 ON SAFE SEX AND CONTRACEPTIVES FOR EVERY $1 SPENT ON ABSTINENCE:     http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/bg1718.cfm  [14Jan04] Abstinence, Sex Education & Abortion:The Connection   As we begin our walk into the third millenium, we are constantly met with the present problems of teen/young adult non-marital pregnancy, STDs, emotional brokenness, suicide, failure to bond, failure to thrive, pornography, sex abuse, divorce; the list goes on. These are not technically “problems”; rather, they are all symptoms of a basic underlying problem: non-marital sexual activity. We have been putting generic, cheap bandages on a moribund wound. It’s time to dig into the wound, find the source of infection, and thoroughly clean it out.   WHAT HAS HAPPENED?   For the past 30-40 years, sex educators have been teaching sex education to our children under two major assumptions:  1. information will change behavior  2. teens WILL have sex because they cannot control themselves These “traditional”* sex educators believe that the more graphic, the more sexually detailed information given to teens is, the more “careful” they will be. That is, they believe that sexually explicit information will lead to birth control use, which will reduce teen pregnancy rates & STD infection rates because the sexual acts would have occurred anyway in “unprotected sex”. In the eyes of major sex educators such as Planned Parenthood, Advocates for Youth, and SIECUS, preventing teen pregnancy is paramount. Teens should not be discouraged from having sex; they should learn to do it “responsibly”.   As the foremost agencies of social change, SIECUS, PP and AGI (Alan Guttmacher Institute) are concerned about lowering the number of teen births. Abortion is...

Ignoring Sex Differences Harms Society, Studies Show (8/04)

Women, men and their children are not well served by a society that fails to acknowledge the inherent differences between the sexes, according to Steven E. Rhoads (Univ of VA), the author of a new book that presents the case that gender differences are based in nature and are not the result of a social construction. Drawing from an abundance of social science data and biological research catalogued in his new book, "Taking Sex Difference Seriously", Rhoads spoke to a packed lecture hall at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC last week. A professor of public policy at the University of Virginia for more than 30 years, Rhoads argued that "masculinity and femininity are not constructed" and he stressed that much of the differences between the sexes have firm roots in biology. He said the amounts of testosterone babies are exposed to in the womb "have a lot to do with how they turn out." Rhoads cited a study that reported that male infants are already more aggressive than females by the age of 16 months. That men are more aggressive, he said, is born out by the fact that there are 28 men in jail for killing another man for every woman incarcerated for killing another woman. Rhoads said one area where society has suffered due to the denial of this basic difference is in men's sports. Current law requires women to be equally represented in college athletics.     Because women's interest in playing sports is not as high as men's, many schools have had to cut men's programs. Rhoads is concerned that many men who need...

Heritage Foundation Releases 2 Abstinence Studies (6/04)

The Heritage Foundation released its analysis of two new studies on 24 June 2004. Both reports give further credibility to the abstinence until marriage message, showing that abstinence programs offer youth the best chance at a happy and healthy life… {For more information about abstinence & virginity pledge research, go to www.heritage.org. For the study, “The Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners Among Women: A Book of Charts”, click here.} “Teens Who Make Virginity Pledges Have Substantially Improved Life Outcomes,” published by Robert Rector and Kirk Johnson, assessed the results from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a program project funded through a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. In it, students who took virginity pledges were followed for a period of years to see if they remained true to their pledges. The study found, after three separate analysis spaced years apart, that pledgers were 1/3 less likely than non-pledgers to have sex before the age of 18, were 50% less likely to have out-of-wedlock births than non-pledgers, and, contrary to public opinion, were not more likely to have or gain a sexually transmitted disease. “Comprehensive Sex Education vs. Authentic Abstinence…A study of Competing Curricula,” written by Robert Rector, Shannan Martin, and Melissa G. Pardue, compared the content of nine popular authentic abstinence programs with nine popular contraception programs (what schools call “comprehensive sex education programs”). The results showed that authentic abstinence curricula devoted more than 70% of its content to the message of abstinence and healthy marriages, while “sex education” programs devoted...

Virginity Pledgers Have Lower Teen Pregnancy Rates (3/04) updated

ADOLESCENTS WHO TAKE VIRGINITY PLEDGES HAVE LOWER RATES OF OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHS — about 40% less likely to have a child out of wedlock when compared to similar young women who do not make such a pledge [recently released data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health – Add Health].     These findings are sustained when background factors are held constant.   Originally a survey of junior high/high school students funded by the Dept of Health and Human Services/other federal agencies, it began asking youth in 1994 whether they have taken such a virginity pledge. These students were tracked through high school and into early adulthood. By 2001, most of the youth in the survey were aged 19-25, old enough to evaluate the relationship between pledging and a number of social outcomes. Some 1.35 million children are born out of wedlock annually, representing roughly one-third of all births in the USA. Children raised by single parents are 7 times more likely to live in poverty than are children raised in intact homes, and they are much more likely to be dependent on welfare programs and to suffer from a wide range of other social maladies.2  Some 14% of young women who had taken a virginity pledge had had a child out of wedlock. This compares with 29% among those women who had not taken a pledge. In other words, the out-of-wedlock childbearing rate among women who had taken a virginity pledge in their youth was 50% lower than that of women who had not taken such a pledge. In this statistical procedure, girls who took a virginity pledge were...

True Love Waits Pledges Shown Highly Effective, Other Studies

Teenagers who pledge to remain sexually abstinent until marriage are 34 percent less likely to have sex than those who do not take virginity vows, according to a study to be published in the American Journal of Sociology. “Pledging decreases the risk of intercourse substantially and independently,” authors Peter S. Bearman and Hannah Brückner wrote. “Since the beginning of True Love Waits in 1993, we have believed pledges do make a difference.” Bearman is professor of sociology and director of the Institute for Social and Economic Theory and Research at Columbia University, and Brückner is assistant professor of sociology at Yale University. “Since the beginning of True Love Waits in 1993, we have believed pledges do make a difference. We have witnessed the leveling off and decline of teen pregnancy since then because the latest CDC report told us so,” Turner of True Love Waits said. “This study provides us with strong data that prove pledges do actually make a difference.” The study, “Promising the Future: Virginity Pledges as they Affect the Transition to First Intercourse,” appeared in the January 2001 issue of the American Journal of Sociology. In his 1999 study, Bearman reports that 2.5 million teens in the United States have taken public virginity pledges; however, he believes that figure is closer to three million now. His data was taken from a mid-1990 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (popularly referred to as Add Health). Bearman pulled his research question from the earlier Add Health study that found teenagers who take pledges of virginity, have loving parents and regard religion and prayer as important are the least...

Cohabitation & Fidelity

A recent study published in the Journal of Marriage and the Family from the Univ of CA at Irvine reports that cohabitation has little effect on a couple’s expectations of their partner’s fidelity (94% expect sexual exclusivity compared to 99% of married couples), but that it markedly effects the likelihood that they themselves will remain true. “The odds of recent infidelity were more than twice as high for cohabitors than for married persons”, the researchers calculated. They also found that couples who have been “living together before marriage raised the net odds of marital infidelity by 39%”. [The Family in America, 7/00; J.Treas & D Giesen, “Sexual Infidelity Among Married and Cohabiting Americans,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 62, 2000:48-60;Abstinence Network, Fall...

Teen Sex: Poll Shows Majority Of Teens Regret Having Sex (6/00)

Almost two-thirds of teenagers who have had sexual intercourse regret not waiting, according to a poll released by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Individually, 55% of boys and 72% of girls said they wish they had waited longer to have sex. “This poll is just the latest evidence that many teens are taking a more cautious attitude toward having sex,” said Sally Sachar, deputy director of the campaign. 37% of teens cited their parents as the people who are the most influential in their decisions about sex; 30% cited friends; 11% cited the media; 11% cited their religious communities as the strongest influence. Sachar said of the results, “It … makes clear that parents can – and must — play an active and continuing role in helping their children understand that sex can wait.“ The media plays a strong role in providing information on sex, with 61% of teens naming it as a source of information or advice about sex in the past month, followed by 57% who learned from their friends, and 55% who received information from their parents. In addition, 78% of teens surveyed agreed that teens should not be sexually active. 54% say that those teens who are sexually active should have access to birth control; but nearly one-fourth disagreed, saying that teens should be abstinent and not have access to birth control. Sixty-four percent of teens would advise their younger siblings or friends not to have sex. The survey, conducted June 7 – 11 by International Communications Research, talked to 501 teens ages 12-17. The margin of error is 4.3% [National Campaign to...

Teen Birth Rate Falls 30% Since '91 to Record Low (12/03)

ABSTINENCE: REALITY CHECK The U.S. rate of teenage births fell a staggering 31 percent from 1991 to 2002, a new study reveals. The rate declined from 62 births per 1,000 girls to 43 per 1,000, according to a study recently released. but the authors of the study, conducted by the Child Trends research center, said that’s still too high. “When we see that 18 percent of 15-year-olds will become mothers before they are out of their teens, it reminds us how far we still have to go,” said Angela Romano Papillo, the lead researcher. The study also contained some startling revelations on regional and racial differences regarding teenage sexuality and motherhood. New Hampshire had the nation’s lowest teen birth rate in 2001, with 21 births per 1,000 girls between ages 15 and 19. The worst was Mississippi, with a teen birth rate more than three times higher, at 67 per 1,000. Overall, Southern and Southeastern states had the highest teen birth rates, while New England states, except Rhode Island, had five of the six lowest rates. New Jersey and New York also fared well, with 29 and 32 births per 1,000 for the eighth- and ninth-lowest rates in the nation. The futures of the 400,000 teens who had babies in 2002 could well be limited by their premature motherhood, said the authors. Other findings included a marked racial difference as to whether girls and boys were equally likely to have sex early in life. Among teens who had sex before age 15, white girls were just as likely as boys to have sex. But black or Hispanic girls were...

Zogby Poll: Parents Overwhelmingly Prefer Their Kids Be Taught Abstinence

The vast majority of American parents want their children’s sex education classes to emphasize abstinence until marriage, according to a new poll released today. The survey, conducted by Zogby International for Focus on the Family, also found that parents strongly oppose the values and messages of comprehensive sex education, a training model that assumes teens will become sexually active and, therefore, must be given easy access to condoms. In fact, a significant majority of those surveyed believe that sexual behavior is likely to lead to psychological, emotional and physical problems for teens. “This poll illustrates that the people most concerned about the health and emotional well-being of America’s children — their moms and dads — recognize that abstinence is the only surefire way to protect their kids,” said Linda Klepacki, manager of the abstinence department at Focus on the Family. “As hard as the comprehensive sex-education lobby has tried to sell its ‘safe-sex’ message, it’s clear parents aren’t buying it.” Klepacki announced the poll results at a Washington , D.C. , news conference today, an event also attended by Dr. Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “It is gratifying to learn that parents agree with the President that the primary message we should give our children when it comes to sexual behavior is abstinence until marriage,” Dr. Horn said. The survey of 1,008 parents of children under 17 featured in-depth questions about the respondents’ views of teenage sexual behavior, the messages contained in sex education curricula and sexual activity as it pertains to human relationships. Among its highlights...

Heritage FDN Study Shows U.S. Spending on "Safe Sex" & Abstinence 12 to 1 (2/04)

The financial balance sheet between abstinence and safe-sex programs within the US shows that the government spends “$12 to promote contraception for every dollar spent to encourage abstinence.”  [Culture & Cosmos: Volume 1, Number 24, 20Jan04;  21Jan04, Abstinence Clearinghouse] In his State of the Union message, President Bush wants a doubling of abstinence funding to $270 million/year. During the 2004 State of the Union Address, Pres Bush declared a funding increase from $135 million annually to $270 million annually to be spent on abstinence education: “Each year, about three million teenagers contract STDs that can harm them, or kill them, or prevent them from ever becoming parents,” stated President Bush.  “In my budget, I propose a grassroots campaign to help inform families about these medical risks. We will double Federal funding for abstinence programs, so schools can teach this fact of life: Abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. Decisions children make now can affect their health and character for the rest of their lives. All of us – parents, schools, government – must work together to counter the negative influence of the culture, and to send the right messages to our children.” The initiatives would be financed in part by shifting some funds from within the federal welfare budget. “I am encouraged by the president’s message and thank him for his support,” said Leslee Unruh, pres of the Abstinence Clearinghouse.  “…this funding is welcome.” Representative Lee Terry (R-NE) and 29 House colleagues, sent a letter to President Bush supporting his plan to increase abstinence-until-marriage education funds. “This is an issue that doesn’t...

Sex, Depression, & Suicide

Sexually active teens are more prone to be depressed/suicidal than teens who are chaste. Early sexual experimentation has been "a substantial factor in undermining the emotional well-being of American teenagers". Data taken from a national survey of 6,500 teens aged 14-17 showed that teen-age girls who had sex were three times more likely to be depressed than girls who didn't. Sexually active boys were twice as likely to be depressed than boys who practiced chastity. "When compared to teens who are not sexually active, teenage boys and girls who are sexually active are significantly more likely to attempt suicide." [data from National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, Wave II, 1996. EF News & Notes, 13Jun03; www.heritage.org  Robert Rector, Kirk Johnson and Lauren Noyes Heritage Fdn; Washington Times, 6/4/03; Family News & Focus, 6/3/03; Abstinence Clrnghse E-Mail Update 4Jun03, www.abstinence.net/library4; 25Jun03, EF Collegians]   ORAL SEX AND STDs –> http://www.medinstitute.org/OS&STD.htm...

Parents overwhelmingly oppose comprehensive sex education, support abstinence education (12/03)

A major survey conducted by Zogby International shows that parents overwhelmingly oppose the topics taught to adolescents through comprehensive sex education. The results of the survey were released today at a press conference in Washington, DC by the Coalition for Adolescent Sexual Health, an ad hoc coalition of groups committed to strong families, research-based education and healthy adolescents. Polls previously conducted by groups such as Planned Parenthood, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), Advocates for Youth, and the Kaiser Foundation have indicated support by parents for comprehensive sex education. However, members of the Coalition for Adolescent Sexual Health believe that previous polling has been deceptive and illegitimate, because comprehensive sex education has not been adequately defined for parents. Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America (CWA), a coalition member, states, "Past polls have never really been honest with parents on exactly what comprehensive sex education teaches. Rather than specifically defining comprehensive sex education, questions use generic wording such as, ‘Do you support education that prepare adolescents to avoid contracting a deadly sexually transmitted disease?’ " "What parents would not answer ‘yes’ to this question," added Crouse. The supporters of these polls then claim strong support among parents for programs that provide instruction about condoms, according to Crouse. "We have always believed that parents would reject comprehensive sex education out-of-hand if they only knew what information was being taught to their kids," stated Dr. Bill Maier, a spokesperson for Focus on the Family, a member of the Coalition. Rather than asking generic questions, the Zogby poll used the specific guidelines for comprehensive sexuality education as developed...

Teen Sex, Depression and Suicide (6/2003)

Sexually active teens are more prone to be depressed/suicidal than teens who are chaste. Early sexual experimentation has been “a substantial factor in undermining the emotional well-being of American teenagers”. Data taken from a national survey of 6,500 teens aged 14-17 showed that teen-age girls who had sex were 3 times more likely to be depressed than girls who did not engage in sexual activity. Sexually active boys were twice as likely to be depressed than boys who practiced chastity. “When compared to teens who are not sexually active, teenage boys and girls who are sexually active are significantly more likely to attempt suicide.” [data from National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, Wave II, 1996. EF News & Notes, 13Jun03; www.heritage.org, Robert Rector, Kirk Johnson and Lauren Noyes Heritage Fdn; Washington Times, 6/4/03; Family News & Focus, 6/3/03; Abstinence Clrnghse E-Mail Update 4Jun03, www.abstinence.net/library4; 25Jun03, EF Collegians] ORAL SEX AND STDs –>...

Teen Culture Takes Another Look At Abstinence/Abortion

The majority of teenagers in high school are virgins. Surprised? And the increasingly pro-life views of young people may be due to “refram[ing] the national debate… shifting the emphasis from a woman’s right to the rights of the unborn child. Graphic descriptions of the partial-birth abortion procedure have also impacted young people.” [American Family Association Journal, 5/28/03; Abstinence Clearinghouse E-Mail Update 4Jun03, www.abstinence.net/library/ind2; Star Tribune, 1Apr03; HLA Action News,...

One In Five American Children Has Had Sex By Age 15 (6/03)

“Almost one in five U.S. teens has sexual intercourse by their 15th birthday.” Its review of available data revealed that 4% of 12-year-olds have had sex, 10% of 13-year-olds, and 19% of 14-year-olds. The figures do not include instances of oral sex, which is reported to be widely practiced by young teens. A different study also released May 20 [Henry Kaiser Family Fdn] found that 47% of teens aged 14 and younger agreed that there is “pressure to have sex by a certain age.” [issued May 20, National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy; Washington Times, 5-20-03; EF News & Notes,...

Study: Abstinence Reduces Teen Pregnancy (4/03, updated 9/05)

More teens are saying no to sex outside of marriage, and that fact is the primary reason for the drop in teen birth and pregnancy rates in recent years. The peer-reviewed study, just published in the journal Adolescent and Family Health, flies in the face of previous reports attributing the decline to increased use of contraception. The report cited abstinence as the No. 1 factor in recent drops in the teen pregnancy rate. ABSTINENCE: REALITY CHECK Overall, the study found that 100 percent of the drop in birthrates and 67 percent of the drop in pregnancy rates could be attributed to single teens heeding the message of abstinence education. Joanna Mohn, M.D., the study's principal researcher, said previous research crediting condom use with the declines was flawed. Mohn contends those studies did not account for significant statistics and factors, such as a distinction between married and unmarried teenage girls as well as teen girls who had not been sexually involved for over a year. The new study shows the factors making the greatest contribution to the decline in overall 15- to 19-year-old birth and pregnancy rates were an increase in abstinence and a decrease in the percentage of married teens. In 1991, the teen birthrate was 62 births per 1,000 girls. By 1995, the birthrate had dropped to 50 births per 1,000 girls. The pregnancy rate per 1,000 girls dropped from 116 to 93 during the same period. "It is time for pro-condom advocacy groups to stop lying to the public about the real reason we are seeing such a sharp decline in teen birth and pregnancy rates," said...