Minnesota students just say no to abstinence.
After taking an abstinence-only sex education course, 12% of students in three Minnesota junior high schools said that they were sexually active--twice the proportion who gave this response before taking the course. (1) A similar pattern is apparent statewide. Furthermore, despite the state's policy to teach that abstaining from intercourse is the only way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, 77% of parents surveyed said that they want their children to be taught about both abstinence and contraception. While supporters of abstinence only education fault the program for teaching that young people should refrain from having intercourse only until adulthood, rather than until marriage, opponents label such thinking "naive." The director of a group that advocates comprehensive sex education comments that "just telling kids to abstain doesn't meet their needs."
(1.) Pierre RE, Abstinence lessons going unheeded, five-year study finds, Washington Post, Jan. 11, 2004, p. A2.
FYI is compiled and written by Dore Hollander, executive editor of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.