Indiana: Passionate Beliefs -- Teens Are Taking Sexual Abstinence More Seriously
January 8, 2003
According to CDC and National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy researchers, during 1991-2001, the prevalence of sexual experience decreased 16 percent among high school students; the prevalence of multiple partners decreased 24 percent; and 40 percent of college freshmen were less likely to approve of casual sex. They abstained for moral, religious, and health reasons; for fear of pregnancy; and for a chance to exercise their freedom of choice.Adapted from:
Indiana law mandates that accredited schools teach abstinence outside of marriage for all school-age children, and that abstinence is the only certain way to avoid pregnancy, STDs and associated health problems. Program instructors include information about contraceptives only in response to questions, and they emphasize sexual relationships as part of marriage.
One popular Indiana abstinence program, Creating Positive Relationships (CPR), outlines the stages of affection: holding hands, hugging, kissing, underwear zone and sexual intercourse. The nonprofit reaches about 40,000 young people statewide through public and parochial schools and church-affiliated organizations. Health experts and educators say while many students are making the choice whether to abstain on their own, most receive guidance through their parents and widespread school- and church-based abstinence programs.
When one student at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Ind., recently asked whether condoms prevented diseases, the CPR facilitator answered: "You could have a condom covering your entire body and if you are exchanging body fluids, there is always the risk of disease. The only safe way is to stay out of the 'underwear zone.'"
According to the sexual health organization Advocates for Youth, evaluations of programs that teach about abstinence and contraception have found no evidence they either encourage sexual activity or hasten its onset. A review of abstinence-only programs concluded that no methodologically sound studies show the effectiveness of such programs, but the most influential programs include discussion and activities regarding communication skills and social norms as well as basic facts.
In Indiana, reported cases of chlamydia rose from 10,000 in 1996 to nearly 14,000 in 2000, according to US government data. A large majority of those infected were ages 15-19. CDC reports about 840,000 US teen pregnancies annually; three out of four are out-of-wedlock.
01.05.03; T.J. Banes
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.