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While there is much debate over the efficacy of abstinence-until-marriage programs, the evidence in favor of these programs continues to mount.

“While these findings show valuable evidence that abstinence-until-marriage programs work, the best evidence is found in hearing the success stories from the kids living the life of sexual integrity everyday,” says Leslee Unruh, President and Founder of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse, the world’s largest abstinence organization.

“Abstinence-until-marriage allows youth the freedom to pursue their dreams and goals without the fear of an unplanned pregnancy, the danger of a sexually transmitted disease or the pain of a broken heart; and it allows them time to find true intimacy, not false intimacy,” she said.

Today, researchers at the National Press Club presented two new studies that highlight encouraging findings on abstinence education.

The first study, conducted by Dr. Stan Weed of the Institute of Research and Evaluation, assessed the effectiveness of abstinence education in reducing the sexual activity of students in Virginia middle schools.

According to Dr. Stan Weed, the evaluation shows that abstinence education programs cut the rate of sexual activity among students roughly in half.

The second paper, by Christine Kim and Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation, presented a comprehensive review of 21 prior studies of the effectiveness of abstinence and virginity pledge programs.

According to Christine Kim, 16 out of 21 studies of abstinence education found youth who received abstinence education had lower rates of sexual activity when compared to youth who did not receive abstinence training.

Most parents are shocked to learn that opponents of abstinence education who promote condoms and contraceptives to youth out-funding abstinence-until-marriage programs by a rate of nearly $12 to $1.

Yet, contraceptive programs continue to be funded with little oversight or peer reviewed evaluations to demonstrate their effectiveness. “I challenge contraceptive programs to conduct the same rigorous studies of their programs as abstinence programs do” said Leslee Unruh.

Further, she said, “Abstinence programs set a clear standard for youth while contraceptive programs ridicule abstinent teens and lower the bar for all teens. It’s like an anti-drug campaign going into the school and saying, ‘Well, doing drugs is bad but here’s a clean needle, a little bit to get you started and here’s where you can go when you run out of drugs and your parents will never need to know.’ Kids don’t respond positively to a mixed message!”

Abstinence-until-marriage education, when taught according to the Title V A-H definition, offers youth a clear standard and expectation for behavior, a definition and picture of what a healthy relationship looks like, the training to make positive decisions in spite of the peer pressure, education and information about how other risk behaviors like drinking and drugs affect their decision making process and the freedom to focus on healthy and positive goals in their lives.

“Opponents of abstinence education seek to create ‘abstiphobics’ out of policy makers and parents by disregarding the evidence that abstinence works. However, they can no longer disregard the youth whose lives are changing daily because of the sexual integrity that abstinence-until-marriage education creates,” said Leslee Unruh.

Click here to read a press statement released by The Heritage Foundation.

Click here to read the paper written by the Heritage Foundation.

Click here to view a chart illustrating that teens who wait to become sexually active stay in school longer.

[22April08, The National Abstinence Clearinghouse Press Release]