Reasons for Abstinence

November/December 2004: Abstinence

New Government Report Offers Even More Evidence that Abstinence Education Works

US Birth Rate For Young Teens Lowest Since 1946

California Teen Birth Rate Dropped 40% Between 1991-2002

Congress Agrees on FY-2005 Abstinence Education Funding Levels

NEW REPORT OFFERS MORE EVIDENCE THAT ABSTINENCE EDUCATION WORKS – Amidst cries for scientific proof and medical accuracy, the CDC, National Center for Health Statistics released two reports today [10Dec04]  which offer even more evidence that abstinence education works.

According to one of the reports, “Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2002” fewer teens are having sex. Declines were particularly large among males age 15-19. That correlates with the finding that the majority of teens reported receiving formal instruction on how to refuse sexual advances. The report also found that adolescents who chose to engage in sexual activity did so at older ages compared with a similar 1995 review.

The findings of this report reveal the total number of teens abstaining from sex before marriage nearly achieves the Healthy People 2010 targets, six years early. Abstinence target rates of 90 percent for teens under age 15 and 75 percent for teens among 15-17 were set as a first wave goal.

“It’s hard to argue with numbers. Abstinence education is reaching kids where they’re at and helping them to make healthy choices for their futures,” said Leslee J. Unruh, president of the Abstinence Clearinghouse. “Kids want the truth. Contraception educators have been lying to them for decades, saying that sex outside of marriage can be casual and safe. That’s just not true and kids have learned it the hard way, by watching their friends get pregnant or contract an STD. They want something better. That’s why they’re choosing abstinence.”

The report did contain some bad news. An estimated 9 percent of sexually active females age 18-24 reported that their first intercourse was nonvoluntary. “This number is, by anyone’s standard, simply unacceptable and underscores the need for age-appropriate discussion about good touch/bad touch and the need for teaching refusal skills to young girls,” said Christina Espenscheid, Educational Programs Director for the Abstinence Clearinghouse.

A second report released today, Use of Contraception and the Use of Family Planning Services in the United States: 1982 – 2002, also revealed bad news for contraception education proponents. More women are relying on family planning services than ever before and yet the outcomes of the studies released today reveal a worsening related to birth spacing and pregnancy prevention education.

“Contraception pushers wanted studies and in-depth analysis of sex education programs,” said Unruh. “Well, they got them. I hope they’re ready. They’ve got some explaining to do.”

The Abstinence Clearinghouse is a non-profit national educational organization that promotes the appreciation for and practice of sexual abstinence through distribution of age-appropriate, factual and medically-accurate materials. The Clearinghouse was founded to provide a central location where character, relationship and abstinence programs, curricula, speakers, and materials could be accessed. The Clearinghouse serves agencies on a national, state and local level, as well as international organizations.
To learn about the many benefits of becoming an affiliate of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, please visit the Affiliate Benefits section, www.abstinence.net. [April Kurtz (605) 335-3643, 10Dec04]

US BIRTH RATE FOR YOUNG TEENS LOWEST SINCE 1946 – it fell sharply in the 1990s, hitting a 58-year-low in 2002 [CDC]. [The U.S. teen birth rate — which declined 30% between 1991 and 2002 — was 43 births per 1,000 teenagers in 2002] CDC researchers said the drop in births among girls between 10 and 14 might be a sign that programs emphasizing abstinence and other forms of birth control are having an impact on this high-risk group. They noted that the downward trend in births occurred despite a rise in the number of girls in this age group. “A number of surveys have shown that in recent years fewer teenagers are sexually active, and they seem to be acting more responsibly,” said Fay Menacker [CDC statistician, study author]. Young girls have a higher risk of delivering preterm or low-birth weight infants. These young mothers also are more likely to have hypertension and eclampsia. There were 7315 infants born to girls between 10 and 14 years old in 2002, compared with 11,657 in 1990. The 2002 birth rate for this age group was 0.7 live births per 1000 girls, one-half the 1990 rate and the same rate as in 1946. Blacks had the highest birth rate among girls in the study at 1.9 per 1000, more than 6 times the rate for whites [Hispanics 1.4 per 1000, Asians and Pacific Islanders 0.3 per 1000]. Maine had the lowest rate (0.2/1000), while Mississippi had the highest (2/1000). [Reuters, 15Nov04, By Paul Simao]

CA TEEN BIRTH RATE DROPPED 40% between 1991-2002 [CA Wellness Fdn]. In 2002, there were 41.1 births/1,000 CA teenagers ages 15-19, compared with 73 births per 1,000 state teens in 1991 [state Department of Health Services figures]. In addition, the state in 2002 recorded the 21st highest teen birth rate in the country, compared with the 11th highest in 1991, according to the report. The U.S. teen birth rate — which declined 30% between 1991 and 2002 — was 43 births per 1,000 teenagers in 2002 (Victorville Daily Press, 5/11). California’s teen birth rate decline over the 10-year period was the greatest of any state except Alaska, according to Claire Brindis of the University of California-San Francisco Center for Reproductive Health Research & Policy. Dawn Wilcox, public education director for CWF’s Get Real About Teen Pregnancy public-education campaign, said that the state’s birth rates are “going down … due in large part to the investment made in prevention programs”. Mary Ann Ambroselli [dir of the Ventura County Crisis Pregnancy Ctr] said that any drop in teen pregnancy is the result of increased support for abstinence-only sex education. She added, “There’s a lot of public schools and some government people that are getting behind the abstinence push. They’re finding out that that’s the best way” (Ventura County Star, 5/13).{Kaiser Daily Reprod Health, 17May04] Some are expecting the decreasing trend in birth rates may begin reversing in three years because of a growing teenage population, greatest among Latinos in the state, who have the highest teen birth rate at 70.4 births per 1,000 teens, according to DHS [CA Wellness Fdn report presented to state lawmakers, http://cme.kff.org/Key=2968.CzW.H.D.Fp5YYs; Whitney, Contra Costa Times, 5/9/04; Freedenberg, Ventura County Star, 5/13].

CONGRESS AGREES ON FY05 ABSTINENCE EDUCATION FUNDING LEVELS on the fiscal year 2005 omnibus appropriations bill: $104+ million for the community-based abstinence education grants [SPRANS]. Program management will move from the Maternal/ Child Health Bureau to the Administration for Children/Families. [Abstinence Clearinghouse Funding Update, 11/22/04]