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The Deacon's Bench

I’m sure there are a few out there who won’t believe it, but one expert is calling the evidence “game-changing”:

ps-partnering1b.jpgA new study shows for the first time that a sex education class emphasizing abstinence only — ignoring moral implications of sexual activity — can reduce sexual activity by nearly a third in 12- and 13-year-olds compared with students who received no sex education.

Other forms of sex education also worked, however, reducing sexual activity by about 20% and reducing multiple sexual partners by about 40%, according to the study reported Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

None of the classes appeared to influence the use of condoms or other birth control when the students did have sex. The children thus remained at risk of pregnancy and disease.

“This study, in our view, is game-changing science,” said Bill Albert, chief program officer at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group based in Washington. “It provides, for the first time, evidence that abstinence-only intervention helped young teens delay sexual activity.”

The George W. Bush administration poured tens of millions of dollars into federal funding for abstinence-only programs, most of them religious-oriented, with little or no evidence that they worked. And new data released last week showed that sexual activity, pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are increasing among teens.

The Obama administration has sharply reduced funding for abstinence-only programs and has announced its intention to fund only interventions that have been found to work. The new study is expected to provide support for such interventions.

But Albert noted that this is only one study in one region. It “should not be interpreted as a signal that abstinence-only education works at all times and under all circumstances. That doesn’t even pass the common-sense test.”

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