Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Abstinence is healthy goal for teenagers but research critiques abstinence-only educational policies

09.01.2006


While few Americans remain abstinent until marriage and most initiate sexual intercourse as adolescents, abstinence from sexual intercourse is an important behavioral strategy for preventing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and unintended pregnancy among adolescents, according to the report, Abstinence and Abstinence-Only Education: A Review of U.S. Policies and Programs. The paper also notes that while there is broad support for abstinence as a necessary and appropriate part of sex education, controversy arises when abstinence is the sole choice for teenagers. John Santelli, MD, MPH, professor and chair, Heilbrunn Department of Clinical Population and Family Health, Mailman School of Public Health, and p rofessor of Clinical Pediatrics, Columbia University is the lead author of the report, published in the January issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.



The paper supports abstinence from sexual intercourse as “a healthy choice for teenagers” but critiques government policies and programs that promote abstinence-only or abstinence until marriage as the only prevention message for teenagers. According to the report, abstinence as the sole option for adolescents is scientifically and ethically problematic and should be abandoned as a basis for health policy and programs.

“Abstinence is a very healthy choice for teenagers - but sex education for teenagers needs to give teenagers all the facts – all the medically accurate information they need to protect themselves, ” said Dr. Santelli. “While abstinence from sexual intercourse is theoretically fully protective from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, in actual practice, abstinence often is not maintained which leaves teenagers vulnerable to pregnancy and STIs.” Recent data indicate the median age at first intercourse for women is 17.4 years, while the median age at first marriage is 25.3 years.


The report recommends that efforts to promote abstinence should be based on sound science. Drawing a distinction between abstinence as a behavior and abstinence-only programs, the paper concludes there is no evidence base for providing “abstinence only” or “abstinence until marriage” messages as a sole option for teenagers. In reviewing scientific literature, the report finds abstinence-only programs demonstrate little evidence of efficacy in delaying initiation of sexual intercourse. Conversely, efforts to promote abstinence as part of comprehensive reproductive health promotion programs, which provide information about contraceptive options and protection from STIs, have successfully delayed initiation of sexual intercourse.

The review of U.S. policies and programs also finds ethical problems with abstinence-only programs, because they provide misinformation to teenagers and withhold information needed to make informed choices. “Typically, abstinence-only education programs provide incomplete and/or misleading information about contraceptives, or no contraceptive information at all. In many communities, abstinence-only education has replaced comprehensive sexuality education,” observes Dr. Santelli. According to the paper, federally funded abstinence until marriage programs neglect and stigmatize gay and lesbian youth. These programs also neglect real health needs for contraception and STI testing among sexually experienced youth, putting these youth at increased risk for unintended pregnancy and STIs, including HIV.

A copy of the complete findings can be found at http://journals.elsevierhealth.com/periodicals/jah

Dr. Santelli also was the lead author on a position paper on Abstinence-Only Education Policies and Programs: A Position Paper of the Society for Adolescent Medicine which also was published in the January 2006 Journal of Adolescent Health. The paper includes specific recommendations from The Society for Adolescent Medicine, a multidisciplinary organization committed to improving the physical and psychosocial health and well-being of all adolescents through advocacy, clinical care, health promotion, health service delivery, professional development, and research. The complete findings can be viewed at http://www.adolescenthealth.org/PositionPapers.htm.

About the Mailman School of Public Health

The only accredited school of public health in New York City, and among the first in the nation Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health provides instruction and research opportunities to more than 850 graduate students in pursuit of masters and doctoral degrees. Its students and more than 250 multi-disciplinary faculty engage in research and service in the city, nation, and around the world, concentrating on biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health policy and management, population and family health, and sociomedical sciences.

Stephanie Berger | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mailman.hs.columbia.edu
http://www.columbia.edu
http://journals.elsevierhealth.com/periodicals/jah

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht World first: Massive thrombosis removed during early pregnancy
20.07.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

nachricht Therapy of preterm birth in sight?
19.07.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>