The news today reports on a study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute that abstinence doesn’t make as much difference in the overall teen pregnancy rates in the US as increased contraceptive use.
I’m still looking at the data in the report and trying to understand their methods and statistics. (Free Abstract here).
Comparing data from the National Survey of Family Growth, 1995 and 2002, the researchers found,
Our data suggest that declining adolescent pregnancy rates in the United States between 1995 and 2002 were primarily attributable to improved contraceptive use. The decline in pregnancy risk among 18- and 19-year-olds was entirely attributable to increased contraceptive use. Decreased sexual activity was responsible for about one quarter (23%) of the decline among 15- to 17-year-olds, and increased contraceptive use was responsible for
the remainder (77%). Improved contraceptive use included increases in the use of many individual methods, increases in the use of
multiple methods, and substantial declines in nonuse.
On the other hand, some of the blogs and pro-life news sites have been talking about a new study that shows strong evidence that there is protection in abstinence based sex ed.
John Jemmott, PhD of the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School, reported in Toronto in August, 2006 that his team had compared abstinence-only education with
The PowerPoint slides showing efficacy of the abstinence only approach, from the presentation in Toronto are here.
And here’s a review of the discussion in the media, at the time:
A study of 662 African-American Grade 6 and 7 students from inner-city middle schools in Philadelphia found those taught an abstinence-only approach to sex were less likely to have had sexual intercourse at 24 months’ follow-up compared to those put through a “safer sex” intervention that emphasized condom use but made no mention of abstinence.
And while Bill Clinton, the former U.S. president, told delegates to the International AIDS Conference in Toronto yesterday that abstinence programs delay sexual activity but make teens less likely to use condoms when they do start having sex, the study found the opposite to be true.
“It did not reduce intentions to use condoms, it did not reduce beliefs about the efficacy of condoms, it did not decrease consistent condom use and it did not decrease condom use at last sexual [encounter],” lead author John Jemmott, of the University of Pennsylvania, said.
The youngsters in the study ranged in age from 10 to 15; half were girls. Twenty-three per cent said they had had sexual intercourse at least once before the study began.
“There aren’t any studies that show that children are less likely to use condoms as a result of an abstinence intervention. I’ve looked in the literature, there are no studies that show that,” Mr. Jemmott said in an interview.
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