Sex and the Single Study

April 17, 2007 1 min read

You’d think that a Congress-mandated study—one concluding that kids who’ve taken abstinence-only courses are just as likely, years later, to have sex as those who haven’t—would put the abstinence-vs.-comprehensive-sex-ed debate to rest. But you’d be wrong. The study in question, conducted over the past few years, focused on roughly 2,000 kids from two urban and two rural communities. Half had participated in abstinence-only programs while the other half hadn’t. Still, the findings for both groups were roughly the same: 50 percent of the students had had sex, with similar numbers of partners, by age 16. “This report should give a clear signal to … Congress that the program should be changed to support programs that work,” said one comprehensive sex ed advocate, referring to the $176 million in federal funds spent annually on abstinence ed. But Bush administration officials argued that because the programs in the study were established almost 10 years ago, they don’t represent most abstinence programs today. In other words, the debate continues.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.