21 March 2008

Real Sex Ed Works

[T]eens who had comprehensive education, which typically discusses condoms and birth-control methods as well as abstinence, were no more likely to engage in intercourse than peers who were taught just to say no to sex before marriage . . . . When differences in race, age, gender and family makeup were taken into account, students who'd had comprehensive sex education were 60 percent less likely to report a pregnancy than those without any sex education and 50 percent less likely than the abstinence-only group. Neither comprehensive nor abstinence-only education appeared to affect the odds that a teen would contract a sexually transmitted disease.

The study suggests that it is beyond the power of the curriculum to tame the teen hormones the lead to teen sexual activity, but that informed teens will more often take steps to prevent themselves from becoming pregnant.

This was based upon the following methodology:

The study is the first time researchers have taken a national sampling of teenagers to compare the effectiveness of the two approaches to sex education. . . . researchers analyzed records of 1,719 straight teens aged 15 to 19 taken from a 2002 federal survey on families. Sixty-seven percent of the adolescents had taken comprehensive sex-education classes; 24 percent had received abstinence-only education, which emphasizes the safest sex is no sex and which discourages premarital sex. The remaining 9 percent received no sex education.

The margin of error is a sample of that size, as a whole is about +/- 2 percentage points. Even for the smallest subsample (the no sex education group) the error of +/- 8 percentage points is considerably smaller than the effects observed.

From the Seattle Times via Colorado Pols diarist Aristotle.

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