UPenn Tests Abstinence Education

UPenn study reveals intriguing facts about abstinence

A recent study conducted in Philly found that abstinence-based sexual education programs could effectively yield results.
The UPenn study -- led by Dr. John Jemmott appeared in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine. It was conducted over a two-year period and followed 662 African-American middle school students.
Participants were randomly placed in eight-hour “interventions.” Each program took place during either four or eight-hour Saturday morning sessions.
Some kids in the study were placed in the abstinence program while others were assigned to a safe-sex only program. Others participated in the comprehensive program including both abstinence and safe-sex education. The control group took part in a nutrition workshop.
At the end of the study there was a 33 percent decline in self-reported sexual intercourse among the abstinence-only group compared to that of the control group.
Furthermore, there was a significant decline in recent sexual activity and those reporting multiple sexual partners among the abstinence group.
The abstinence-only class involved interactive exercises where students were immersed in an authentic form of decision-making. Participants had to logically consider the effect a sudden pregnancy would have on their respective futures.
Exercises involved HIV and STD awareness, communication/negotiation skill improvement and resisting peer pressure. Fun activities and role-playing games were introduced as well.
“We don’t lecture but use activities that engage the adolescents such as games, brainstorming and videos. You make it fun,” Jemmott told CNS News.
Though abstinence-only programs don’t entirely eradicate teen sexual intercourse, Jemmott's’s study demonstrated its strength in reducing reported cases of intercourse over an extended period of time. This tends to be the more crucial factor in STD and pregnancy prevention.
“It is extremely important to find an effective intervention that delays sexual activity,” said Jemmott. “The younger someone is when they have sex for the first time, the less likely they are to use condoms.”
Rates of teen pregnancies, births and STDs have gone up after over a decade of reduced numbers. The Bush Administration funded programs targeted towards emphasizing morality-based abstinence education whereas current federal funding focuses on pregnancy prevention initiatives that are scientifically shown to work.
The lesson of all this -- knowledge and awareness is, in many cases, our greatest ally.

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