Studies find teaching abstinence ineffective
And now for something obvious that religious policymakers don't get: studies and trials done on thousands of young people in the U.S. show that teaching teenagers abstinence is as effective in reducing their chances of unwanted pregnancies and disease as not at all talking about it:
Last month Dr Underhill published a review of 13 trials involving 16,000 young people in America. The trials compared the sexual behaviour of those given an abstinence-only education with that of those who were provided with no information at all or with whatever their schools normally taught. Pregnancies were as numerous in both groups. Sexually transmitted diseases were as widespread. The number of sexual partners was equally high and unprotected sex just as common.In contrast, teaching kids about abstinence and condom use did have some impact:
This tuition—compared, as before, with whatever biology classes and playgrounds provide—reduced the number of pregnancies in three out of seven trials (the remaining four recorded no difference). Four out of 13 trials found that abstinence-plus-educated teenagers had fewer sexual partners, while the remainder showed no change. Fourteen studies reported that it increased condom use; 12 others reported no difference. Furthermore, in the vast majority of cases, abstinence-plus participants knew more about AIDS and HIV (the virus that causes the disease) than their peers did. And the tuition often reduced the frequency of anal sex (which brings a greater chance of passing on HIV than the vaginal option).And no, contrary to religious arguments, talking to young people about condoms did not increase their propensity to sin:
In contrast to the fears of the protagonists of abstinence-only education, not one of the trials found that teenagers behaved in a riskier fashion in either the long or the short term after receiving abstinence-plus instruction.