Abstinence :: Medical Institute responds to Mathematica Abstinence Sex Ed Report

The Medical Institute responded to the “Impact of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs” final report released earlier by Mathematica Policy Research Inc., affirming that the report did not call for de-funding of abstinence programs but simply advocated further study.

“The Mathematica report does not support a conclusion that abstinence education programs should no longer be funded,” said Gary Rose, M.D., president and CEO of The Medical Institute.

“To the contrary, the report specifically indicates that programs should continue with changes where necessary to make them more effective, particularly ‘promoting support for abstinence among peer networks’ as an important feature.”

Fewer than one percent of the nation’s Title V-funded abstinence programs were included in the study, yielding results that do not reflect the full impact of abstinence education on America’s teenagers and young adults. In addition, none of the four selected programs included a high school component, further limiting the impact of the study’s findings. However, this is a critical time in life when most children are making sexual decisions and need guidance.

Previous independent studies have affirmed the effectiveness of abstinence programs, with notable examples including research in Denmark, South Carolina (Vincent, 1987, JAMA.), and Monroe County, New York (Doniger, 2001, J Health Commun.). Both examples identified a significant decrease in teen pregnancy, demonstrating the impact of the abstinence message in both communities.

“I look forward to more research and broader studies that measure the impact of abstinence education,” Rose concluded. “Our children need and deserve the best education we can provide. Teaching them the value of avoiding, not just reducing, the risk of sexually transmitted infection and unwanted pregnancy has proven to be an effective message.”

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