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An abstinence rate of 92% was reported among students who were not sexually active at the beginning of another program called 'Loving Well'-a literature-based program.
Similarly Elayne Bennett, a faculty member of the Georgetown University Development Center, developed another abstinence program in 1987. This was called Best Friends and it focused on character building of young girls in public schools. Girls would enroll in this program during 6th grade and continue till they graduated. In an independent evaluation of the program in 1995, participants in the program were compared with their classmates who had not participated in the program. The results were highly encouraging. Compared to 26% of the girls who had not participated in the program and became pregnant, only 1% of the participants had conceived. As for sexual activity, 63% of the non-participants were engaged compared to only 5% of Best Friends participants (Charen, 1998).
The Journal of the American Medical Association also published the results of two important studies on abstinence education (Resnick et al., 1997; Vincent, Clearie, & Schluchter, 1987). One of the studies focused on the high-risk area of South Carolina where a significant decrease was reported as abstinence education was received. (Vincent et al., 1987). Resnick et al. (1997) reported results from another study that was in favor of $50 million federal Title V abstinence-only education program. This study was called Add Health and results were collected from a written survey of more than 90,000 adolescents. Add Health reported that, "adolescents who reported having taken a pledge to remain a virgin were at significantly lower risk of early age of sexual debut" (Resnick et al., 1997, p. 830). The study concluded that strong parent and family influence played a major role in protecting teenage girls. (Resnick et al., 1997).
Interestingly the research confirmed the vague idea that teenage pregnancies had decreased as the result of abstinence. It also found that abstinence was rediscovered by youth and engaging in sexual intercourses had come down to 48% in 1997 from 54% in 1995 (Centers for Disease Control, 1998). Kasun (1994) reported: "Both teach that abstinence is the healthiest lifestyle and discuss the emotional risks of premarital sex, as well as the risk of disease. A study of Illinois students enrolled in a Sex Respect course found that before the program, 60% of the students agreed that abstinence was the best way to avoid pregnancy. After the program, 80% of the students favored abstinence."
The findings of all these studied indicated in strong terms and with conclusive evidence that abstinence-based sex education programs had been very effective in changing young peoples' attitude towards sexual activity. Interestingly these programs have managed to leave an impression on students from all kinds of economic and social backgrounds. While these programs have been highly successful, there is still need for further evaluation and more control experiments. Kirby (2002) notes, "Given the small number of studies, their methodological limitations, and the great diversity of abstinence-only programs that have not been evaluated, one should be careful about making any generalizations about all abstinence-only programs" (p. 55).
While summarizing the discussion we can say in a rather conclusive manner that abstinence-based programs have been far more effective and successful in bringing down the rate of teenage pregnancies than sex education programs. Abstinence is rightly considered the more effective approach and is thus being implemented in large number of schools across the country.
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Khouzem, H.R. (1995). Promotion of sexual abstinence: Reducing adolescent sexual activity and pregnancies. Southern Medical Journal, 88, 709-711.
Kirby, D. (2002). Effective approaches to reducing adolescent unprotected sex, pregnancy and childbearing. Journal of Sex Research, 39, 51-57.
Kirby, D. (1989). Sex education programs and their effects. World & I, 591-603.
Lickona, T. (1993). Where sex education went wrong. Educational Leadership, 51, 84-89.
Mast, C.K. (1986). Sex respect: The option of true sexual freedom. Golf, IL: Respect, Inc.
Resnick, M.D., Bearman, P.S., Blum, R.W., Karl, E.B., Bauman, K.E., & Harris, K.M. (1997). Protecting adolescents from harm. Journal of the American Medical Association, 278, 823-832.
Richard, D. (1989). Exemplary abstinence-based sex education programs. The World & I, 569-589.
Sexual Health Update. (1999, Spring). The Medical Institute for Sexual Health, 7, 1-4.
Tanas, R.S. (1998). Edinburg School District's human growth and development report.…[continue]
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