Abstinence Study Results May Not Apply to Texas
February 17, 2010
A recent study indicating that abstinence-only education, done correctly, can be successful has sparked considerable discussion. The curriculum tested in the research, however, differs markedly from the abstinence education program taught in Texas.
The study, led by John B. Jemmott III of the University of Pennsylvania, is the first to evaluate an abstinence program in comparison to several alternative strategies over a long period. Conducted between 2001 and 2004, it involved 662 black sixth- and seventh-graders from four Philadelphia public middle schools.
The students were randomly assigned to one of four curricula: an eight-hour abstinence-only program; an eight-hour safer sex-only program targeting increased condom use; eight- and twelve-hour comprehensive interventions targeting sexual intercourse and condom use; or an eight-hour health promotion intervention targeting health issues unrelated to sexual behavior, which functioned as a control group.
Follow-up at two years found approximately 33 percent of students in the abstinence program started having sex, compared with 52 percent in the safe-sex class, 42 percent in the comprehensive curriculum, and 47 percent in the control group. The abstinence program had no negative effect on condom use, a key criticism of the approach.
Jemmott, however, points out that the study's abstinence-only approach varies from that employed in many locations, including Texas:
Jemmott said he still favors comprehensive sex education but encourages innovation in abstinence-focused programs as well.
Dallas Morning News
02.09.2010; Jeffrey Weiss
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.