Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Media attack on abstinence education misguided

The Irish media at large do not seem to be capable of understanding that it is important to encourage young adults to avoid early sexual initiation and the commencement of sexual relationships outside of marriage and hence they sneer and jeer at any effort to encourage teenagers to live chaste lives.
The latest episode in the news relating to the excellent youth group ‘Pure in Heart’ is clearly an attempt to stop them from teaching the truth about human sexuality.
Following a report on the group a number of radio programmes have sought to denigrate them and their methods but no criticism is made of groups that encourage early sexual encounters or the consequences of such encounters.
This type of sneering knee jerk reaction is not only counter productive it is highly insulting to the good young people engaged in trying to encourage a sensible approach to sexuality and it does a disservice to vulnerable young people.
See report in the Journal
A more constructive approach would look at the facts and compare the outcome of abstinence education with the disastrous comprehensive sexuality education which is being perpetrated on young adults today.
The Washington Post for example in 2010 reported on a randomized control study on sexual abstinence among early teens, Efficacyof a theory-based abstinence-only intervention over 24 months” was carried outby John B. Jemmott III, PhD; Loretta S. Jemmott, PhD, RN and Geoffrey T. Fong,PhD published in the February edition of Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine
The study showed that a high-risk population of 6&7 graders receiving abstinence-centered education had the following behavioral changes:
•Reduced sexual initiation (32.6% abstinence intervention vs 51.8% for “safer sex” and 41.8% for “comprehensive” sex education.)
•Reduced the number of sexual partners (a crucial determinant in acquiring an STD),
•The author cites the value of a single focused abstinence approach for encouraging sexual delay, as opposed to a mixed “comprehensive” message. (AP article 2/2/10: “Jemmott said the single focus may have been better at encouraging abstinence than the other approaches in his study. ‘The message was not mixed with any other messages,’ said Jemmott)

Clearly this information challenges policies that claim to want to fund “evidence-based programs,” yet ignore the results of abstinence programmes such as this important study.

This new study proves,
* Single-focused abstinence-centered education is the most effective approach in reducing teen sex.

The study clearly showed that students receiving the Abstinence centered approach were significantly less likely to initiate sex than either the “Safe-Sex” and “Comprehensive” sex education approaches. The safer sex and comprehensive interventions did not reduce sexual initiation.

* Abstinence education has a long-term positive impact on teens’ sexual behavior. Reduction in teen sex continued over a 24-month timeframe.

* Abstinence education is effective among high-risk teens.
The study was conducted among urban, low-income, African American youth, a population at high risk for pregnancy and STDs, including HIV.

The abstinence–centered approach is preferred over condom-based instruction in many communities throughout the US, as cited in the study (this is also true of many communities throughout the world). Offering parents and schools a choice in the type of sex education their children receive not only supports pluralism but the value of local control in education.