Reasons for Abstinence

July 2005: Abstinence

First-year Findings from Federal Longitudinal Study on Abstinence Education

New Study Shows 84% of Young Women Use Condoms Incorrectly

Parents’ Perceived Disapproval of Sex Cuts Teens’ STD Risk 6 Years Later

Abstinence Education Website

Alabama Abstinence Grantee Conducts Annual Parent Day

Texas Finance Committee De-funds Abstinence Health Books…

For past months’ Abstinence headlines, click here.

First-year Findings from Federal Longitudinal Study on Abstinence-Education an Important Contribution to Helping Youth Make Healthy Choices – The findings of a major longitudinal study of abstinence-education released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS) provide further evidence that abstinence-education is the only intervention that helps youth avoid risky sexual behavior.

The report clearly reveals that students who participate in abstinence-education programs have a fuller understanding of the consequences of early sexual activity and are more likely to recognize the avoidance of sexual behavior as a postive choice. They were also less likely to view having sex in their adolescent years as a healthy choice.

These are the findings of a five-year longitudinal study following youth in 4 abstinence-education programs. The report, prepared by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. for US DHHS, only explored attitudinal changes of participating youth. It did not examine behavioral changes. The behavioral impact of the programs will be reported after the study concludes in 2006.

This report is further evidence that abstinence-education programs, by helping youth understand healthy relationships and the risks of early sexual activity and by strengthening their decision-making and communication skills, are having a positive impact on the lives of students.

While pointing out that the findings released focus on attitudinal change and do not yet reveal anything about the behavioral impact of the four programs being studied, there is a growing body of research documenting the impact of abstinence-education on behavior.

For example, at least 2 peer-reviewed studies of abstinence-education programs have found that these programs have succeeded at significantly lowering pregnancy rates among teens. And, in two separate papers also presented, an analysis of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health shows that teens who sign virginity pledges have significantly lower STD rates as young adults. [Medical Institute Advisory, 20June05, www.medinstitute.org]

 

NEW STUDY SHOWS 84% OF YOUNG WOMEN USE CONDOMS INCORRECTLY – only 16% of young women who always use condoms during sexual activity actually use condoms properly. [ed. I’m not sure why women are being blamed for this!]

[The CDC notes that using condoms inconsistently is practically useless.] The Reuters study is based on a new report in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 6/05, which analyzed the sexual behavior of 509 adolescent girls from urban areas.

Of the girls using condoms, 21 percent had chlamydial infection and another 7% had gonorrhea; 4% had both infections. The authors’ report: “Although messages directed at adolescents should encourage delaying initiation of sexual activity, many [adolescents] are already sexually active, and STDs are particularly common among this group.”

The authors then incredibly argue that teens should therefore be encouraged to continue to rely upon contraception.

Apparently the authors of this study forgot what their own work concluded – the majority of teens who rely on condoms don’t use them correctly.

It seems the more astute response to this study would be to stress abstinence until marriage education as the best prevention strategy against STDs. [Reuters Health, 07/01/05; Abstinence Clearinghouse E-Mail Update, 7/06/05]

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS POLICY PANACEA DOOMED TO FAILURE  “If the American Academy of Pediatrics was truly – as its slogan ‘Dedicated to the Health of All Children’ states – the Academy would have used a broader scope for its most recent statement on adolescents and pregnancy,” said Leslee Unruh [Pres, Abstinence Clearinghouse]. “Instead, the many serious dangers of teen sexual activity, such as sexually-transmitted diseases, AIDS, suicide, & depression are ignored in the AAP’s newest policy statement [‘Adolescent Pregnancy: Current Trends and Issues’]. According to the statement, premarital teenage pregnancy appears to be the sole threat of adolescent sexual activity.” The updated version of the 1998 policy appearing 6July in the journal Pediatrics noticeably omits the statement that “abstinence counseling is an important role for all pediatricians.” The new policy urges physicians to encourage teens to delay sexual activity, but to mix the message by also ensuring access to birth control & emergency contraception.  Glenn Ridder M.D. [Chrmn, Abstinence Clearinghouse’s 85-member Medical Advisory Council]. “Certainly the AAP knows of the very real dangers of human papillomavirus, an STD that cannot be protected against by contraception and is the leading cause of cervical cancer in the world. Encouraging teens to rely only on contraception breaks the medical code of ethics, ‘first, do no harm’.” [Abstinence Clearinghouse Press Release 6July05 605.335.3643]

PARENTS’ DISAPPROVAL OF SEX CUTS KIDS’ STD RISK Teenage girls who think their parents disapprove of their having sex have a lower risk of 3 STDs as young adults.

Compared with their peers, girls who believed their parents would not want them to have sex were 16% less likely to have chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis 6 years later. The same was not true, however, of teenage boys.

The findings appear to be the first to show a connection between teens’ perceptions of their parents’ opinions on sex and their risk of STDs/STIs years later — at least among girls.

The implication, according to the study authors, is that parents should make their views on sex clear to their children. And, despite the gender gap in the findings, that means talking with boys too, said Dr. Carol A. Ford [lead researcher, Univ of NC, Chapel Hill]. “We don’t understand that finding,” she said of the lack of parental influence on their sons’ STD risk. “It was surprising to us.” But, Ford noted [interview, Reuters Health] the study did look at a fairly narrow outcome — the risk of 3 STDs several years out.

The research [Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine] included nearly 11,600 U.S. students who were surveyed in middle school or high school, then re-interviewed and tested for each of the 3 STDs 6 years later. Overall, just over 6% of participants tested positive for an STD at follow-up.

Among females, those who 6 years earlier had said their parents disapproved of teen sex had a lower infection rate. In addition, [esp. female] students with higher grade point averages had a lower STD risk as young adults than those with poorer grades. Ford: “talk with them rather than at them.”

Parents who object to teen sex can also discourage their children from dating or having a steady relationship at a young age, & from dating someone substantially older. [Archives of Pediatr
ics
& Adolescent Medicine
, 7/05; Reuters Health, 07/05/05]

AL BOLIGEE 2000 INC. CONDUCTS ANNUAL PARENT DAY – [a Title V Alabama Abstinence-Only Education Program (AAEP) community-based abstinence-only project] held their Annual Parent Day Program for ~50 parents, youth, local citizens, & community leaders 5June05 in Greene County as part of their on-going Parent Involvement Program.

This year’s theme was “Give Some Love: Truth & Consequences” & featured a guest speaker [“Empowered Parenting”]. The Project staff discussed the importance of abstinence-until-marriage education & distributed abstinence-until-marriage pledge forms to all of the participants. [Abstinence Clearinghous Affiliate Report, 06/05/05]

ABSTINENCE EDUCATION WEB SITE, www.greattowait.com, for Florida shows why the best choice is sexual abstinence until marriage. Please publicize this website: www.greattowait.com which also posts upcoming community events such as regional “Great To Wait” Teen Abstinence Rallies. 

TEXAS STATE FINANCE CMTE DE-FUNDS ABSTINENCE HEALTH BOOKS – Despite the State Board of Education’s decision to teach abstinence, the Texas legislature finance committee has denied the funding necessary to purchase abstinence education curricula. [LoneStarReport, 05/20/05]

VIRGINITY PLEDGERS HAVE LOWER STD RATES AND ENGAGE IN FEWER SEXUAL BEHAVIORS; New Study Re-Examines Virginity Pledge: “Junk science” exposed at HHS conference The US House of Reps officially approved a $10.82 million increase for abstinence education 24June [Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill]. This vote follows other good abstinence news: A new study, by Rector& Johnson, reexamining data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health [Add Health] [database funded by the US gov’t], found Virginity Pledges to be helpful tools in deterring sexual activity. This Heritage Fdn study pointed out serious and consequential flaws in an analysis of virginity pledges released in 4/05 by Peter Bearman [Columbia Univ] & Hannah Bruckner [Yale] [4/05, Journal of Adolescent Health] who publicly defamed abstinence education. Kristi Hayes [Dir, Government Affairs, Abstinence Clearinghouse]: “Abstinence education continues to be proven effective. Is anyone really surprised? Abstinence education is common sense. Kids want relationships and security. They want meaning and purpose in their lives. Abstinence education teaches kids how they can have a healthy, happy future. That’s why it works.” For more than a decade, abstinence educators have encouraged young people to abstain from sexual activity & to take a verbal or written pledge to abstain from sex until marriage. Although abstinence programs have received recent negative coverage, the new report released at the Welfare Research & Evaluation Conference hosted by the US Dept of Health & Human Services (HHS) seeks to clarify previous findings. The new research validates what abstinence educators have known all along — abstinence pledges work. The new research was conducted by Robert Rector and Dr. Kirk Johnson of Heritage Foundation: “Adolescents who take virginity pledges are less likely to have STDs as young adults when compared to non-pledgers from similar backgrounds. Adolescents who take virginity pledges are also less likely to engage in risky sex behaviors than were non-pledgers. The more risky the behavior the less likely pledgers are to do it.” Taking a virginity pledge is “strongly associated” with lower rates of STDs — teen pledgers are 25 percent less likely to have STDs as young adults than non-pledging peers, Heritage Fdn researchers Rector and Johnson said in their reports. In addition, when pledgers and non-pledgers are compared on oral and anal sexual activity, data show that the pledgers are significantly less likely to engage in such practices, the Heritage researchers said. This remains true even when sexually active pledgers are compared with sexually active non-pledgers.
     Rector & Johnson found that Bearman & Bruckner ignored 4 statistically significant measures of STD, all of which showed that pledgers were far less likely to have an STD than non-pledgers. The researchers instead chose to report a fifth measure, which showed the same result, but was not significant.  The Bearman study, based on just one STD measure, said the pledgers’ STD rate “does not differ” from that of non-pledgers. However, the Heritage researchers said, when STD rates were analyzed in 5 ways, pledgers had significantly lower STD rates in 4 areas and had a rate that was almost significantly lower in the 5th area.
 “Several discrepancies were immediately apparent,” stated Rector. “For starters, the Add Health data clearly reveal Bearman and Bruckner inferred [that virginity pledgers are more likely to engage in alternative sexual practices (sex other than vaginal intercourse) when compared to non-pledgers,] by looking at a microscopic subset which included only 21 respondents out of a total sample of 14,116. Bearman and Bruckner used junk science to unfairly attack abstinence education.” Rector & Johnson’s report found that although many years pass between the adolescence when a pledge is taken and marriage, taking a virginity pledge is associated with a broad array of positive outcomes. When compared to similar non-pledgers, adolescent virginity pledgers have far fewer sex partners overall; pledgers are less likely to engage in sex while in high school and while not married as a young adult; less likely to experience teen pregnancy and out-of-wedlock birth; less likely to have children in their teen and young adult years; less likely to engage in alternate sexual activities and outercourse; and less likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD/STI). Leslee Unruh [pres, Abstinence Clearinghouse]: “Premarital sexual activity is a problem because it results in pregnancy, STD, broken hearts, and more…Virginity pledges, as one component of holistic abstinence education, are proven to be effective where contraceptive sex education has failed America’s teens…Once again, the abstinence education, wanted by parents everywhere, is proven healthy and effective.” [The Heritage Fdn, 14June05, http://www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/wm762.cfm; Cheryl Wetzstein, The Washington Times, 14June05; Medical Institute Advisory, 24June05; Abstinence Clearinghouse Email Update, 24June05; News Release, Abstinence Clearinghouse, AL Physicians For Life, Inc., 15June05] Related: Adolescent Virginity Pledges, Condom Use, and STDs Among Young Adults, by Robert Rector and Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D., Conference Paper 14June05, http://www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/whitepaper06142005-1.cfm;  Adolescent Virginity Pledges & Risky Sexual Behaviors, by R Rector & K A. Johnson, Ph.D. Conference Paper 14June05, http://www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/whitepaper06142005-2.cfm