It’s an article of faith among the Religious Right that the only way to decrease sexual activity among teenagers is through programs that preach abstinence until marriage.
Critics have long suspected that such “abstinence-only” programs are not effective – and now a report commissioned by the federal government confirms that.
The study by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. found that young people who took part in abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex as those who did not.
The study also found that students who went through an abstinence program had the same number of sex partners as those who did not and had their first sexual experience at around the same age.
Mathematica looked at four abstinence programs operating in different parts of the country.
The Associated Press reported that the federal government spends about $176 million annually on abstinence-only education. The approach is popular among the Religious Right, which insists that these programs are effective. Some programs are “faith-based” and have been criticized for relying on religious content.