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"No Condom For the Heart." Does Abstinence Education Work?

"No Condom For the Heart." Does Abstinence Education Work?


No-nookie talk is breeding like rabbits! The New York Times magazine section this weekend got to at least second base with a great feature on virginity clubs at Ivy League schools. These "just-say no-way-until-marriage" groups, have religious members, but some are focused on the feminist part of withholding the goods. Janie Fredell, the co-president of the True Love Revolution, the Harvard group at the center of the piece said,

I am an unconventional feminist. . . . it takes a strong woman to be abstinent, and that's the sort of woman I want to be.

What struck me about the piece were the stats about abstinence education:

  • A 2004 report issued by Representative Henry Waxman, (D — CA) found 11 of 13 abstinence programs his government-reform committee examined were rife with scientific errors and false and misleading information about the risks of sexual activity.
  • A national survey found that those who took virginity pledges held on to their technical virginity about 18 months longer than teenagers who didn’t pledge, but they were six times more likely to engage in oral sex than virgins who hadn’t taken a pledge. They were also much less likely to use condoms during their first sexual experience or to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

And these reports are just out too:

  • $1.5 billion tax dollars have been spent on abstinence programs since 1982.
  • A new study shows that students who receive comprehensive sex education are half as likely to become teen parents as those who get none or abstinence-only sex education.

Even Grey's Anatomy actress Kate Walsh is talking abstinence, saying on CBS's Early Show on Friday that, "Abstinence only is not working. It's a $1.5 billion program over the last 10 years that has, quite frankly, failed."

Should we be saying yes to saying no? Should abstinence be taught?

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