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What is abstinence?
Abstinence and Safer Sex HIV Risk-Reduction Interventions for African American Adolescents
'Abstinence Awareness' assumes way too much
Abstinence isn't the only way to stay STD free
Abstinence-only sex ed not as effective
Abstinence-only programs aren't certain to curb teen sex
Abstinence students still having (unsafe) sex
Abstinence Talk Not Enough, Pediatricians Say Teens Need Access To Birth Control
Bristol Palin Faults Abstinence Teaching
Chastity Pledge does not reduce STD rate
Few Americans favor abstinence-only sex ed
Helping Kids Stay Safe
100% Effective Birth Control
Periodic Abstinence or Fertility Awareness Methods (FAMs)
The Purity Test
Some communities that have tried an Abstinence Awareness WeekSome Stats
U.K. schoolgirl loses virginity ring court battle
Virginity Pledge - Does it Work?
New study on abstinence-only bound to inject controversy into sex education debate
Dont Doesnt Work in Sex Ed
In-Your-Face Christian Teen Abstinence Videos: Take The Virginity Pledge!
Will Mark Souder Sex Scandal Hurt the Comeback Chances of His Ex-Boss Dan Coats?
Related Issues: Abstinence-only, abstinence failure, abstinence not safe, condom use.
What is abstinence?
What are the advantages of choosing abstinence?
What are the disadvantages?
If you're counting on abstinence, and change your mind in the heat of the moment, you might not have birth control handy.
Where can I learn more?
What you do sexually is an important decision. So start by thinking it through carefully yourself. You may want to discuss your decision with another person whom you respect. You may want talk it over with your partner. Check with your local family planning association, temple or church, or local health department for an organized support group or program for young people wanting to wait until they are ready before having intercourse.
What if I have sex and don't use birth control?
Did you know that up to 120 hours (five days) after unprotected
sex, you can take emergency contraceptive pills to reduce your risk
of becoming pregnant? And, sooner is better, so don't wait! This
method will not protect you against sexually transmitted infections.
Not all doctors know about emergency contraception. To learn more,
read about emergency contraception and/or check with your local
Source: Adapted from Hatcher RA et al. Contraceptive Technology. 18th rev. edition. New York, NY: Ardent Media, 2004, www.advocatesforyouth.org/youth/health/contraceptives/abstinence.htm
Some people, especially people who think it's not cool to wait to have sex, think that abstinence is a completely bad thing. Actually, there are some really good things about abstinence and some of them might apply to you.
Ways to Express Love Without Sex
100% Effective Birth Control
Periodic Abstinence or Fertility Awareness
Abstinence and Safer Sex HIV Risk-Reduction
Interventions for African American Adolescents
Talk Not Enough, Pediatricians Say Teens Need Access To Birth
Abstinence-only sex education is not the best way to prevent unwanted teenage pregnancies, says a leading group of pediatricians that also recommends providing all teens, not just those who are already sexually active, with access to birth control, including emergency contraception.
The American Academy of Pediatrics' updated teen-pregnancy policy report, which appears in the July issue of Pediatrics, amends the group's 1998 report by scrapping the statement that "abstinence counseling is an important role for all pediatricians." The new draft instead asserts that while doctors should encourage their young clients to hold off on sexual activity, they should also ensure that all teenagers have access to birth control, including emergency contraception such as the morning-after pill.
The academy notes that while adolescent pregnancy and birth rates have steadily declined over the past 13 years, many teens are still becoming pregnant. More than 45 percent of high-school females and 48 percent of high-school males report having engaged in sex, according to the report. The average age of their first such experience was 17 years for girls and 16 years for boys.
"Even though there is great enthusiasm in some circles for abstinence-only interventions, the evidence does not support [that] as the best way to keep young people from unintended pregnancy," Dr. Jonathan Klein, chairman of the academy committee that wrote the report, told The Associated Press.
The most successful prevention programs, the report says, include multiple and varied approaches to the problem, including abstinence promotion alongside information about, and availability of, contraceptives.
But Wade F. Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said teaching teens the abstinence-only approach to sex is best because it sends a clear, consistent message. Teens who are sexually active should have access to contraception, Horn told the AP, but making birth control available to teens who aren't having sex sends a conflicting message.
While birth-control methods such as the pill are not 100 percent effective in preventive pregnancy, they can reduce the risk of pregnancy by up to 92 percent, according to Planned Parenthood, a national source of reproductive healthcare services. With the exception of condoms, however, birth control does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
Emergency contraception, available for more than 25 years, could prevent 1.7 million unintended pregnancies and 800,000 abortions each year in the U.S., Planned Parenthood estimates. Nearly half of America's 6.3 million annual pregnancies are accidental, while as many as 80 percent of teen pregnancies are unintended.
The academy also noted that teen birth rates in the U.S. are much higher than in comparable industrialized nations with less-restricted access to contraception. As of 2004, the U.S. teenage birth rate is the highest in the developed world, Planned Parenthood says. It is twice as high as Canada's, four times as high as Germany's, seven times as high as the Netherlands', and nearly nine times as high as Japan's.
Source: Brandee J. Tecson, www.mtv.com/news/articles/1505295/07062005/id_0.jhtml?headlines=true
still having sex
Students who participated in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex a few years later as those who did not, according to a long-awaited study mandated by Congress.
Also, those who attended one of the four abstinence classes reviewed reported having similar numbers of sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes, and they first had sex at about the same age as their control group counterparts 14.9 years, according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc.
The federal government now spends about $176 million annually on abstinence-until-marriage education. Critics have repeatedly said they dont believe the programs are working, and the study will give them reinforcement.
However, Bush administration officials cautioned against drawing sweeping conclusions from the study. They said the four programs reviewed among several hundred across the nation were some of the very first established after Congress overhauled the nations welfare laws in 1996.
Not like vaccines
Officials said one lesson they learned from the study is that the abstinence message should be reinforced in subsequent years to truly affect behavior.
This report confirms that these interventions are not like vaccines. You cant expect one dose in middle school, or a small dose, to be protective all throughout the youths high school career, said Harry Wilson, the commissioner of the Family and Youth Services Bureau at the Administration for Children and Families.
For its study, Mathematica looked at students in four abstinence programs around the country as well as students from the same communities who did not participate in the abstinence programs. The 2,057 youths came from big cities Miami and Milwaukee as well as rural communities Powhatan, Va., and Clarksdale, Miss.
The students who participated in abstinence education did so for one to three years. Their average age was 11 to 12 when they entered the programs back in 1999.
Mathematic then did a follow up survey in late 2005 and early 2006. By that time, the average age for participants was about 16.5. Mathematica found that about half of the abstinence students and about half from the control group reported that they remained abstinent.
I really do think its a two-part story. First, there is no evidence that the programs increased the rate of sexual abstinence, said Chris Trenholm, a senior researcher at Mathematica who oversaw the study. However, the second part of the story that I think is equally important is that we find no evidence that the programs increased the rate of unprotected sex.
Trenholm said his second point of emphasis was important because some critics of abstinence programs have contended that they lead to less frequent use of condoms.
Mathematicas study could have serious implications as Congress considers renewing this summer the block grant program for abstinence education known as Title V. The federal government has authorized up to $50 million annually for the program. Participating states then provide $3 for every $4 they get from the federal government. Eight states decline to take part in the grant program.
Some lawmakers and advocacy groups believe the federal government should use that money for comprehensive sex education, which would include abstinence as a piece of the curriculum.
Members of Congress need to listen to what the evidence tells us, said William Smith, vice president for public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, which promotes comprehensive sex education.
This report should give a clear signal to members of Congress that the program should be changed to support programs that work, or it should end when it expires at the end of June, Smith said.
Smith also said he didnt have trouble making broader generalizations about abstinence programs based on the four reviewed because this was supposed to be their all-star lineup.
But a trade association for abstinence educators emphasized that the findings represent less than 1 percent of all Title V abstinence projects across the nation.
This study began when (the programs) were still in their infancy, said Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association. The field of abstinence has significantly grown and evolved since that time and the results demonstrated in the Mathematica study are not representative of the abstinence education community as a whole.
The four programs differed in many respects. One was voluntary and took place after school. Three had mandatory attendance and served youth during the school day. All offered more than 50 hours of classes. Two were particularly intensive. The young people met every day of the school year.
Common topics included human anatomy and sexually transmitted
diseases. Also, classes focused on helping students set personal
goals and build self-esteem. The young people were taught to improve
communication skills and manage peer pressure.
Stars Who Spoke Publicly About Being A Virgin
Teen stars could pose in just their underwear on the cover of Rolling Stone or dance on top of an ice cream cart like it's a stripper pole, as long as they publicly announced that they were abstaining from sex until they had tied the knot.
Was it a coincidence that stars began declaring they were against premarital sex at the same time President George W. Bush's administration implemented abstinence-only sex education in schools? Or was it the result of clever PR strategies tapping into a more conservative national mentality, tired of the oversexed, Lewinsky drama of the Clinton era?
Regardless, with the proliferation of Disney stars in the mid-2000s, being a famous virgin was a full-time job with its own accessory -- a purity ring. The House of Mouse could boast some of its biggest stars wearing rings that represented their commitment to God and to their parents to stay pure. Advertisers and parents alike rejoiced at the rings, but they didn't stay on for long. We can't say we're too surprised -- it's easy to reject the notions of premarital sex when you're 13, but much harder when you're 18 and in a relationship.
Adriana Lima, Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson,
Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Tim Tebow, Camilla Belle, Joe Jonas
New study on
abstinence-only bound to inject controversy into sex
Now a purportedly well-designed study published by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, led by one John B. Jemmott III, hypothesizes that there might be more benefit to the use of abstinence-only education than critics have alleged. Money shot from the Washington Post:
The new study involved 662 African-American students who were randomly assigned to go through one of five programs: An eight-hour curriculum that encouraged them to delay having sex; an eight-hour program focused on teaching safe sex; an eight- or 12-hour program that did both; or an eight-hour program focused on teaching the youngsters other ways to be healthy, such as eating well and exercising.
Over the next two years, about 33 percent of the students who went through the abstinence program started having sex, compared to about 52 percent who were just taught safe sex. About 42 percent of the students who went through the comprehensive program started having sex, and about 47 percent of those who just learned about other ways to be healthy. The abstinence program had no negative effects on condom use, which has been a major criticism of the abstinence approach.
The take-home message is that we need a variety of interventions to address an epidemic like HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, Jemmott said. There are populations that really want an abstinence intervention. They are against telling children about condoms. This study suggests abstinence programs can be part of the mix of programs that we offer.
Critics of the studys findings argue that it doesnt disprove a key claim they made that the biggest problem with the Bush administrations abstinence-only programs was its focus on abstinence until marriage rather than abstinence until youre ready. How long do you want to bet it will take for some conservative culture warrior to misrepresent the studys findings as proving that the abstinence until marriage message works?
That said, Id have some additional questions about the studys findings:
1. Of the 33% who started having sex under the abstinence-only instruction, how many had protected sex? How many became pregnant, or contracted an STD? Is the rate significantly different from those who were educated under the comprehensive and safe sex-only messages? (Editor's note: What was the rate of conversion to anal or oral sex since many don't include those in the question: "What you had sex" or "When did you start having sex?")
2. The objective of the abstinence program was the delay of the beginning of sexual activity does that delay persist relative to the safe-sex and comprehensive programs, or does it break down at some point and catch up to the rates of sexual activity observed in the group who delayed under the other two programs?
3. What are the actual benefits outside of moral and spiritual concerns of delaying the beginning of sexual activity? At what point do these benefits have diminishing returns? That is, at what point does delaying the onset of sexual activity become irrelevant in terms of the social good it produces (relative to the private, moral good of say, abiding by some faiths edicts)?
If the rates of protected sex/lack of pregnancy and STDs is comparable under the three programs, Im amenable to focus on teaching delay at certain ages. But once you get past a certain age, some kids are just going to become sexually active, while others will continue to run screaming from s-e-x into young adulthood Ive found this to be true wherever in the country Ive lived.
Ultimately, its important to keep in mind that some forces
in this country behind the abstinence-only approach have an outright
opposition to women and men who are not married being able to access
methods for planning their reproductive health at any age. Does
anyone else remember the folks calling for the continual teaching of
abstinence until marriage into young adulthood a couple of years ago?
(Editor's note: Even a government funded program to teach abstinence
only to age 29.) Its those forces that I think will twist this
studys findings in the wrong way, when it really raises as many
questions as it answers.
Dont Doesnt Work in
Currently, about 176 million dollars are spent on abstinence-only education, and studies have shown that the programs simply dont work.
In the January issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, theres a new study from Janet Rosenbaum of Johns Hopkins University about the effects of virginity pledges on sexual behavior.
So how do these commitments to abstain until marriage affect sexual behavior? Do teens who pledge to abstain have less sex than their compatriots? Nope. Do they wait longer to have sex? Nope. So whats the effect? Teens who take virginity pledges are significantly less likely to use the Pill or condoms than their non-pledging peers.
President Obama is considered an advocate of comprehensive sex
education which includes advice to young people about using
contraceptives if they do engage in sexual activity. Im on his
side and I hope thats the advice he gives to Malia and
In-Your-Face Christian Teen Abstinence
Videos: Take The Virginity Pledge!
This touring show promotes teen abstinence though their in-your-face touring show that features laser lights, djs, comedy sketches, and of course, the silver ring pledge: all teens in attendance put on a silver ring as a pledge to stay a virgin. The silver ring will only be taken off when they are married! The silver ring is supposed to act as some sort of virginity force field for horny teens.
Check out this in-your-face video. It kind of has the flavor of a Nazi propaganda film:
The fun rolls on with the Silver Ring Things series of teen abstinence TV commercial spoofs that tote such messages as sex will cause death (perhaps condom use and knowledge would prevent that?).
As the Christian teen abstinence logic goes, of course you
cant teach kids about methods of birth control and protection:
that would be like telling kids its okay to go drunk driving.
Yes a firm grip on the Bible is all hormone-filled kids need to know
about not having sex before marriage.
(Editor's note: They ought to spend more time
on ways to keep the kids virgins after they've taken the pledge since
88% of those kids can't keep the pledge. Should stonings be brought
back like the Bible says?)
loses virginity ring court battle
A teenager whose teachers had stopped her wearing a purity ring at school to symbolize her commitment to virginity has lost a High Court fight against the ban.
Lydia Playfoot, 16, says her silver ring is an expression of her faith and had argued in court that it should be exempt from school regulations banning the wearing of jewelry.
I am very disappointed by the decision this morning by the High Court not to allow me to wear my purity ring to school as an expression of my Christian faith not to have sex outside marriage, Playfoot said in a statement Monday.
I believe that the judges decision will mean that slowly, over time, people such as school governors, employers, political organizations and others will be allowed to stop Christians from publicly expressing and practicing their faith.
Series of disputes
Playfoots legal challenge was the latest in a series of disputes in British schools in recent years over the right of pupils to wear religious symbols or clothing, such as crucifixes and veils.
Last year, the Law Lords rejected Shabina Begums appeal for permission to wear a Muslim gown at her school in Luton. That case echoed a debate in France over the banning of Muslim headscarves in state schools.
Playfoots parents are key members of the British arm of the American chastity campaign group the Silver Ring Thing, a religious group which urges abstinence among young people.
Those who sign up wear a ring on the third finger of the left hand. It is inscribed with Thess. 4:3-4, a reference to a Biblical passage from Thessalonians which reads: God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin.
During the case, Playfoots lawyers argued that the ban by her school in Horsham, West Sussex, breached her human rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion which are protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.
Lawyers for the school denied discrimination and said the purity ring breached its rules on wearing jewelry.
They said allowances were made for Muslim and Sikh pupils only for items integral to their religious beliefs and that, for the same reason, crucifixes were also allowed. But it argued that the purity ring was not an integral part of the Christian faith.
Playfoot said in her statement she would consult her legal team to
consider whether to appeal.
Helping Kids Stay Safe
This comes just as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a piece of legislation that would make the state support condom distribution in jails through The Inmate Community Public Health Act.
Both stories typically have two reactions: good! or a disturbed expression on the face. If the disturbed look emanates from the thought of either two 11-year-olds or two inmates having sex, then maybe the good! emanates from the same thought but with a placating vision of them wearing a condom or a girl on birth control.
Anne Squires is a family nurse practitioner at Eastern Senior High School, in Washington D.C., where she said at least 30 girls get pregnant every year. Over the six years that she has been at the school she has noticed that STDs and other reproductive concerns are one of the top reasons why students visit the clinic, which is only one of two in health clinics in the District located inside of a school.
"I think we have to be realistic," Squires said. "If [students] have made that choice then I feel it's my responsibility to help them make safe choices."
And according to the city of Portland, students as young as
11-years-old are making the choice to have sex. The Washington
Post reported that Portlands three middle schools had seven
pregnancies in the last five years
Awareness' assumes way too much
Loyola Life's flyers ask the men and women of Loyola to give their significant others something besides an STD for Valentine's Day. This statement can only assume that Loyola Life believes that there is no such thing as a committed relationship.
After all, STDs do not spring up out of nowhere; they must be contracted. Two people in a completely- monogamous relationship are not going to give each other STDs they don't have.
Therefore, one or both parties must be cheating on the other for there to be any possibility of spreading an STD to their partner. Also, Loyola Life must believe that not only are all of the relationships at Loyola corrupted by infidelity but that the cheating partner is also willing to put their significant other at risk by having sex with them after having sex with someone else.
I find it sad and offensive that Loyola Life has such a low
opinion of their peers. Before trying to spread a message based on
fear, they should get a realistic attitude about committed
relationships and wake up to the fact that having sex does not
automatically result in getting an STD.
Source: Liz McCollum, religious studies/classics junior, media.www.loyolamaroon.com/media/storage/paper542/news/2004/02/20/Editorial/abstinence.Awareness.Assumes.Way.Too.Much-613292.shtml
Abstinence isn't the only way to stay
Will Mark Souder Sex Scandal Hurt the
Comeback Chances of His Ex-Boss Dan Coats?
When Congressman Mark Souder took the microphone at a tea-party gathering of the Elkhart County Patriots last month, I thought to myself that he must be feeling pressure from his deep-pockets challenger, Bob Thomas, who was commanding the area's airwaves with commercial after commercial criticizing Souder as "a career politician." Disheveled and about the furthest from anything resembling dapper or dashing, there was an urgency in Souder's voice as he praised "the premises of our country" and noted that it was necessary "to put the fire back in the Republican Party." Just after he denounced abortion, he asserted in unequivocal terms: "You have to have a moral people."
Today that line -- and Souder's entire career as a defender of conservative social values -- prompt head-shaking disbelief here in his home state after Tuesday's announcement that he's had an affair with a woman on his staff and is resigning his House seat, effective Friday. Though he prevailed in the primary two weeks ago, voters in the Third District of Indiana are trying to make sense of his sudden departure.
Novelists can explain darkened hearts with greater ability than political analysts-fiction offering possibilities reality rarely affords. In Souder's case, though, his straight-arrow consistency in espousing personal ethics and conduct makes his confession all the more stunning.
A self-described evangelical Christian and MBA graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Souder even taped videos about sexual abstinence and the evils of abortion with the woman implicated in the liaison. If a novelist can't do justice to these circumstances, Jon Stewart or "Saturday Night Live" probably can (click play below to watch one of the videos).
Within a few hours of the eight-term legislator's resignation statement, there were plans being discussed for a special election, which Gov. Mitch Daniels has the authority to call. Daniels, a possible GOP candidate for president in 2012 and a politician sensitive to every electoral breeze in his state, has the discretion to set the actual date for voting.
According to Indiana election law, caucuses of precinct committee officials within the district will select the Republican and Democratic candidates to compete in the special election. Though it's fairly certain Tom Hayhurst, a doctor and former Fort Wayne council member, will be the Democrats' choice-Hayhurst waged a strong campaign against Souder in 2006-the Republican slot could see stiff competition among two of Souder's 2010 primary challengers: Thomas, a wealthy car dealer, and Phil Troyer, a lawyer. But State Sen. Marlin Stutzman, who finished a better-than-expected second to former U.S. Sen. Dan Coats in the recent primary for the Senate nomination, is already receiving attention on the merits of the tea-party friendly campaign he waged against Coats.
Whether Souder's revelation becomes a major factor in deciding who will represent Indiana's Third District is an open question, but it promises to be more competitive, given what's occurred and Hayhurst's previous experience.
It's possible, too, that Souder's resignation will become an issue, spoken or unspoken, in the fall's Senate contest between Coats and Democratic Congressman Brad Ellsworth. Souder, you see, began his political career in 1981 as a staff member for Coats, then a U.S. Representative, and he stayed with Coats after his election to the Senate, rising to the post of deputy chief of staff before returning to Indiana to run for Congress on his own in 1994.
Democrats currently hold a 5-4 advantage over Republicans in the
House, but with Souder's fall there will now be three districts
without incumbents running: the Third, the Eighth (because of
Ellsworth's decision to take on Coats) and the Fourth, where Steve
Buyer declined to seek re-election. Evan Bayh's decision not to seek
a third Senate term adds even more to the open and unpredictable
nature of Indiana politics, and the anti-incumbent mood is working in
especially strange ways in the Hoosier state this election year.
that have tried an Abstinence Awareness Week
Abstinence only works if you abstain.
Many people are offended by the truth.
The people who are regarded as moral luminaries are those who forego ordinary pleasures themselves and find compensation in interfering with the pleasures of others. - Bertrand Russell