Study: Abstinence-only programs are ineffective

Kelly Pickerel

A recent study ordered by Congress revealed that sexual abstinence programs are ineffective, and those who take part in the programs are just as likely to have sex as those who do not.

The study also showed students involved and not involved with the program first had sex at the same age – 14.9 years – according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc.

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked to review the accuracy of abstinence curricula in 31 school districts in Ohio.

Abstinence-only programs are funded by tax dollars, and since 1996, the federal government has spent more than $7 billion on the programs, according to the ACLU, “despite research indicating that many such programs are ineffective.”

Dr. Dianna Kerr, associate professor and program coordinator for health education and promotion, said abstinence programs receiving federal funds follow a strict curriculum. They push the practice of abstaining until marriage and cannot teach about contraceptives but can release the failure rates of contraceptives.

ACLU looks to stop funding for the programs entirely.

Debbie Reedy, sophomore early childhood development major, said she also believes abstinence-only programs should be stopped.

“People have the right to know that there are ways to protect themselves,” she said. “Statistics show that when the kids in the programs do start having sex, they’re getting diseases because they don’t know the forms of protection.”

In addition, Kerr said abstinence-only programs should not be receiving tax-payers’ money.

“The funded programs are very sex-negative,” she said. “They scare the kids into not having sex. There are comprehensive sexuality programs that do work, and they talk about safer sex instead of the failures of contraceptives.”

“Schools should abandon abstinence-only programs,” said Nicole Haney, senior fine arts major. “They need to teach safe-sex instead”

Emily McMahon, senior fine arts major, said she agrees safe-sex should be taught more in schools than abstinence-only programs.

“There’s no way to fool kids into not doing it,” she said. “They need knowledge of STDs and other diseases. Even if they’re in a relationship, or might one day be in one, they need to know how to protect themselves. It’s good to start young with this information.”

In March, Gov. Ted Strickland took a big step and removed $1 million in state aid for abstinence-only programs.

Kerr said she agrees with Strickland’s decision.

“There’s no evidence that the programs work,” she said. “Abstinence will still be taught in schools – just not abstinence-only (programs).”

Contact news-correspondent Kelly Pickerel at [email protected].