Friday, July 21, 2006

Sex Education Actually Encouraging Abstinence?

From Reuters, via CNN:
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- After participating in a two-week sexual education program designed and implemented by an academic medical center, more middle-school students said they would hold off on having sex for the first time, Texas researchers report.

“Involvement by the medical profession can assure medically correct content, appropriate research outcomes, and enhanced quality of medical information in this important area of adolescent health,” Dr. Patricia J. Sulak of the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center College of Medicine in Temple and colleagues note in a report.

School officials in Temple had approached health care professionals at the medical school for assistance in developing a sex education program for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. Parents and school officials wanted to emphasize postponing sexual activity, so the program focused on consequences of teen sex, as well as “skill building, character building, and refusal skills,” Sulak and her team point out in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Students who were considering having sex were “encouraged” to meet with a health care professional.

Before the sex education program, 84 percent of students said they would delay having sex until after high school. This figure rose to nearly 87 percent after the program.
Those numbers sound very good, but unfortunately are inflated. It’s much easier to say you will abstain from sex on a questionnaire than to resist social pressure when “everybody is doing it.” Or when a willing (or demanding) boyfriend or girlfriend presents a temptation.
The biggest effect was seen in the percentage of kids who said they wouldn’t have sex until after marriage; before the program, about 60 percent said they planned to remain virgins until they married, while nearly 71 percent said they would after the program.
Same thing here. Easy to say in junior high, but the culture tells kids something radically different.

More interesting, perhaps, is the issue of which kids are most open to the message.
Other factors associated with planning to delay sex included attending religious services and watching two hours or less of television on school nights. Students whose original parents were still married were also more likely to report that they would wait to have sex.

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