Study of Abstinence-Only Programs Shows Zero Impact on Teen Behavior
A 10-year evaluation of federally funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs shows the programs do not prevent teens from having sex.
The $1.5 billion study, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that students of abstinence-only programs had the same age of first intercourse as their peers who did not take the abstinence-only classes, and had a similar number of sexual partners.
The report concludes: “Findings indicate that youth in the program group were no more likely than control group youth to have abstained from sex and, among those who reported having had sex, they had similar numbers of sexual partners and had initiated sex at the same mean age.”
The Mathematica evaluation addresses abstinence-only programs funded under the 1996 federal welfare reform law (Section 510(b) of Title V of the Social Security Act). These programs have dedicated $50 million each year for states to teach abstinence-only programs that are prohibited from discussing contraception, including condoms, except for failure rates.
States that accept Title V funds must contribute three state dollars for every four federal dollars, bringing the total amount spent on such programs to $87.5 million annually. Due to the restrictions imposed upon states accepting Title V funding, eight states have rejected Title V money. The Title V program is currently set to expire on June 30, 2007.