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Teens in Best Friends Abstinence-Only Program Are Less Likely to be Sexually Active Than Their Peers

UK Doctors Put Girls Aged 10 on the Pill



TEENS IN BEST FRIENDS ABSTINENCE-ONLY PROGRAM LESS LIKELY TO BE SEXUALLY ACTIVE THAN PEERS Middle-school and high-school girls in Washington, D.C., who participated in the Best Friends Foundation’s abstinence-only education programs are “substantially” less likely to have had sexual intercourse than the average girl of the same age in the district [study published in the spring issue of the Institute for Youth Development’s journal Adolescent & Family Health].

Author Robert Lerner studied data from 2,700 girls in grades 6 – 8, and 800 girls in grades 9 – 12, some of whom were enrolled in the Best Friends program. The researchers compared several years of data on the Best Friends program participants with data collected through CDC’s national Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) System in the same area over the same period.

The Best Friends program, in its 18th year, uses school-based curricula, fitness classes, mentoring, role models and community service to help girls in 6-8th grades make healthy choices during adolescence — such as abstaining from drugs, alcohol, smoking and premarital sex.

A companion program for boys, called Best Men, began in 2000.

Best Friends, which recently won a three-year federal abstinence grant, does not teach girls about contraception. Girls in the middle-school Best Friends program were more than 6.5 times less likely to report having had sex than middle-school girls in the CDC study, and  8 times less likely to use drugs – both strong outcomes.

The study also found that the Best Friends participants were about 2 times less likely to drink alcohol, and more than 2 times less likely to smoke, compared to their district peers [Times].

The high-school girls involved in the Best Friends’ Diamond Girls program were 120 times less likely to engage in sexual activity than the average girl of the same age in the district [a total of 800 YRBS girls and Diamond Girls were compared]. Diamond Girls were also 26 times less likely to use drugs, nearly nine times less likely to smoke and three times as likely to abstain from alcohol.

The popular Best Friends abstinence program currently operates in over 100 schools across the USA.

Elayne Bennett, founder of the Best Friends program, said the study provides “concrete evidence” that abstinence-only sex education programs are effective. “Year after year, adolescent girls in our program have demonstrated that the Best Friends curriculum helps them make confident, healthy choices and reject sexual activity, alcohol, and drugs. The teens get it…This is the message they want to have. I just wish more of the adults got it,” she said.

U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona said the study’s results show that a mentor-based abstinence program “inspires children to make healthy choices for life… Mentors can give young people the hope and guidance they seek to make life’s toughest decisions, including delaying sexual activity, eating a healthful diet, getting daily exercise, not smoking, and staying away from drugs and alcohol”.

Abstinence education has come under fire in recent months form abortion advocates who say it is ineffective and claim more state and federal taxpayer funds should be used to promote contraception. 

Mary Ann Solberg [deputy dir, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy] called the findings impressive:  “We must continue to support programs that have real outcomes — and these are real outcomes.” 

[spring issue 4/05  Institute for Youth Development’s journal Adolescent & Family Health; The Washington Times, “Abstinence program shows results”by Cheryl Wetzstein 28Apr05, News World Communications, Inc.; B Peters, 28Apr05; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Report (not prolife), 4/29/05 PUBLIC HEALTH & EDUCATION 5. Washington, D.C., Ertelt,, 4/29;; Steven Ertelt, Editor, 27Apr05, DC; N Valko RN, 29Apr05; Best Friends Foundation –; Adolescent & Family Health journal –] Adolescent & Family Health is published quarterly by the Institute for Youth Development, a nonprofit group that studies ways to help teens and families avoid alcohol, drugs, premarital sex, tobacco and violence.


UK DOCTORS PUT GIRLS AGED 10 ON THE PILL – according to research that will reignite the debate over the spread of under-age sex in Britain.

The study, covering more than 35,000 girls, found there were 23 aged under 13 who had been given the pill either by family planning clinics or GPs. Of those, two were aged 10.  It is the first time such data on age have been disclosed and has prompted criticism that doctors may be condoning under-age sex or abuse.

The research was conducted in Scotland, where sex with a girl under 13 is classified as rape. Sex with a girl under 13 carries a maximum life sentence both north and south of the border.

The British Medical Association and General Medical Council tell doctors they can prescribe the pill to girls of any age if they are deemed “mature enough” to make the decision.  However, if they are aged under 13, the doctors are expected to report it to the police or social workers responsible for children at risk. It is not known whether this happened in the 23 cases or whether the children’s parents were informed.

James McLay, a clinical pharmacologist at Aberdeen University who led the study, said: “One of the worries we have is that people who are under 13 on the oral contraceptive should be reported to social workers because they are being subjected to rape.”  

The study is to be published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood journal. Last year 25,000 girls in England aged 15 or under were prescribed the pill and 2,700 were given long-lasting contraceptive injections.

The percentage of girls aged 13-15 who attended family planning clinics has risen from nearly 5% in 1993-4 to almost 10% in 2003-4. Doctors said that in some cases the pill could have been prescribed to treat heavy or irregular periods. [,,2087-1602578,00.html, May 08, 2005, Camillo Fracassini & Sarah-Kate Templeton]