A new study finds that abstinence education works.
According to a paper to be published in the February Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, when black teens were randomly assigned to four different types of sex-ed instruction, the abstinence-educated teens stayed chaste longer (if they did go sexually active, they were no less likely to use contraception than teens from the other groups).
This sounds like good evidence. Certainly the idea that teaching abstinence promotes abstinence is common-sensical. As I’ve grown older I’ve also grown more sceptical of all those contrarian claims that sound so cool: Abstinence education promotes sex! Lower taxes promotes government revenue! LDS teens are somewhat more chaste than their peers and it is certainly not from a lack of abstinence education at Church. Of course LDS teens are not randomly assigned to the Church, more’s the pity. In any case, I personally do not intend to encourage abstinence among my own children by dragging out a banana and a condom.
But a few caveats are in order. The main one is that, I bet, the study relied on teens to self-report their sexual activity. A sceptic could recast the results as “Study finds that teens who are taught that abstinence is a good thing are more likely to claim to be abstinent.”