Abstinence Only Education is Proven Effective… Not!

This video is about a recent study that has been described as “abstinence only” and some are claiming it proves “abstinence only” is effective. 

There are two problems:

  1. It actually only promotes abstinence, but as far as I know all sex education promotes abstinence.  Most people (whether liberal or conservative) don’t want young kids to have sex.  This supposedly “abstinence only” program didn’t teach kids to wait until marriage but merely told kids to wait until they were ready.   Also, this program taught the use of condoms.  So, this study in no way disproves all the studies that came before it, and tall the studies that came before it conclude that “abstinence only” doesn’t work.
  2. This study can’t tell us about “abstinence only” or much of anything at all.  Even if this had actually been a study about “abstinence only”, one study doesn’t prove anything.  You can find a single study with almost any conclusion.  The scientific method, however, operates by way of replication.  Anyways, this study was way too limited.  The study was done with 6th and 7th graders and only followed them two years, but most kids don’t lose their virginity until their mid to late teens.  Even within these limitations, this program only discouraged a fairly small percentage of kids not to have sex for two years.  That is a rather minor success.

16 thoughts on “Abstinence Only Education is Proven Effective… Not!

  1. Abstinence only education communicates to the students that condoms are not 100% effective, and even how ineffective they actually are. Most abstinence programs base their numbers on consistent, correct use. Comprehensive sex ed tends to say, “Don’t have sex, but when you do…” Abstinence ed says, “Don’t have sex, and we believe that that is a positive choice that you can make.” The Obama administration just released a government report that indicated the effectiveness of abstinence ed and preference of most parents of that sex ed model. Just some thoughts. Thanks.

  2. Most programs that are labeled “abstinence only” also teach contraceptives. I used to teach an abstinence course using “Choosing the Best” support material. Even though we taught about contraceptives, we were labeled an abstinence only program. The primary difference between comprehensive sex ed and “abstinence only” ed is the perspective shed on contraceptives. Not whether contraceptives are discussed at all. I think a lot your views are accurate, however, if I understand them correctly, and I like the idea of finding common ground. We all want the same thing and that is for students to avoid at risk behavior. Your last statement needs some tweaking. not all research has “proven” the ineffectiveness of abstinence only ed. I would take the time to list a few reports to the contrary if I was sure that you were willing to read them. Just out of curiosity, and you may have, but I’m wondering if you’ve ever read the reports against abstinence education? I have and they are quite funny. I have a post on my blog on the Waxman report which is one o them. And the other major study against abstinence ed is the Mathematica report which even Mathematica themselves said was so over regulated that the results couldn’t be trusted. I not trying to argue or prove that I’m smart and you’re wrong. I’m just wondering if you’ve done your homework and considered some of this stuff.

    • Not that I necessarily doubt you, but I’d like to see data proving that most programs that are labeled “absintence only” also teach contraceptives. That is a strong claim to make. If it were true, then most programs labeled as “abstinence only” are mis-labeled and are actually comprehensive sex education.

      I have a suspicion about what the confusion is. Comprehensive education teaches about contraceptives in giving accurate data, teaching how to use them, & informing where to obtain them. I suspect that what you are calling contraceptive teaching in abstinence only is about teaching kids why they shouldn’t use contraceptives because they shouldn’t be having sex. If that is what you mean, that isn’t comprehensive sex education. Teaching against the use of contraceptives is part of abstinence only.

      I’ll look at any data that you want to provide. I’m a liberal which means I respect knowledge above ideology. If you looked at the posts I linked above, you’d already know that I do my homework. However, like everyone, I have limited time. I don’t care if you are trying to prove your smarter. I’d like to see you try. lol

  3. I’ll not try it. You do seem smart. Not because of a particular view point that you’ve stated, but because you are open minded and available to challenge. Yes the contraceptive teaching that I was referring to is, in fact, over the limited protection of contraceptives as stated by the CDC, DHHS, and all contraceptive manufacturers. I think you would agree as do all manufacturers of any and all contraceptives that they only provide limited protection. Most students do not know this fact, and I think it’s only fair that we infrom them. Now this is the important part, I hope you think about this rather than just skimming over. If you tell a sixteen year old boy to not have sex, but when he does, to use a condom, and where to buy them, he hears you saying that you expect him to ignore your telling him to not have sex. And you are telling him just that, otherwise there would be no need to tell him how to use a condom. If he is not having sex then he would not need a condom. And if you are telling him that you expect him to fail on the first point should he not also assume that he is to fail on the second as well, and not even use a condom? You cannot pick and choose what part of your message he will listen to. He either listens or he doesn’t. And if he listens too close to mine he hears that I expect him to listen and make good choices, if he listens too close to yours he hears that he is expected to ignore you on some parts but not on others. It would be like me telling my son to not cross the icy river then handing him a life jacket. He would be getting a mixed message. So you are setting him up to fail by communicating to him what he must do when he fails.
    You stated that you are a liberal, so I will let you know as well, that I am a conservative. I also respect knowledge. But I have much respect for moral ideology as. I believe the two go hand in hand. After all are we not both discussing our own ideologies, and supporting them with logic?

    • Your implication is that comprehensive sex education, unlike abstinence only, doesn’t teach the actual and full data on contraceptives. That is a bold claim. Show the data to prove this.

      From the Waxman Report:

      Click to access The_Waxman_Report.pdf

      “Abstinence-Only Curricula Contain False Information about the Effectiveness of Contraceptives. Many of the curricula misrepresent the effectiveness of condoms in preventing sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. One curriculum says that “the popular claim that ‘condoms help prevent the spread of STDs,’ is not supported by the data”; another states that “[i]n heterosexual sex, condoms fail to prevent HIV approximately 31% of the time”; and another teaches that a pregnancy occurs one out of every seven times that couples use condoms. These erroneous statements are presented as proven scientific facts.”

      Your hypothetical is meaningless. We don’t need to depend on hypotheticals since we have research analyzing the actual effect of different sex ed programs. The data proves that fully informing teens of all the data leads to positive results.


      We are both supporting our views with logic, but there is a difference. I’m supporting my views with logic AND facts. You are supporting your views with logic AND hypotheticals. Logic without facts easily turns into ideology. Ideology open to being changed by facts stops being ideology.

  4. I cannot speak for all abstinence education programs and be sure that I’m accurate. I cannot speak for all of them just like you would not be able to prove that every comprehensive sex ed teacher is is doing their job correctly. There is simply no way of proving this.There will always be some that stray. Our Information was based on data from the CdC, The Trojan condom co., The DHHS, and only a few other highly reliable sources. Waxman never sat in on one of my classes, so he would not be able to report on what was being taught in them. The Waxman Report is a joke. I have read it frontwards and backwards. There are so many gross contradictions in that report that I’ve laughed ever time I’ve read it. You seem to rely heavily on statistics, reports, evaluations, and scientific data. I don’t, simply because I know the story behind so many of those reports. I’ve looked deeper than what’s on the surface. Also, for every government or scientific report or survey that makes one claim, there is another that makes the opposite. Therefor we have to either attempt to choose which source is accurate or step beyond the reports and begin to incorporate logic. It was logic that I was using when I told of the sixteen year old boy hearing a mixed message in the words of a comprehensive sex ed teacher. The boy hears that he is is expected to ignore some of his teachers instructions, and adhere to others. He can then pick and choose which instructions he chooses to ignore and which he chooses to listen to. I wouldn’t yet say that you are supporting your view with facts, but rather with data which may or may not be factual. I enjoy logic far better than data, even though I have had to use both. Data is always changing. Logic is consistent.

    • You seem to be immensely ignorant about how science works. Scientific research doesn’t have to look at every single program. Most abstinence-only programs that have been studied by researchers have shown negative results. You may not have been dishonest or incorrect in some of the info you taught, but it doesn’t mean your program was effective.

      I know how denialists think. Scientific evidence doesn’t fit your ideology and agenda? Well, it must be wrong. Man, that is pathetic. I feel sad for you.

      Your logic is superior to all of science. Forgive me if I feel a bit doubtful about your fundy logic. Given a choice between science and fundy logic, I’ll always choose the former. Fundy logic is consistent because it’s impervious from the scientific facts of the real world. Scientific data changes because scientists put reality before ideology. As they get more clear data, they change their conclusions. This is how intellectually honest people operate.

  5. By the way. If I have implied that I believe all comprehensive sex ed programs to be falling short of providing the facts, I certainly didn’t mean to. I know I never actually said that. Yet still, if I implied it, that is certainly not something that I can prove. If some of those programs are letting the students know the risk still involved when using contraceptives and stressing this point, than I would have no problem with that aspect. That is, as long as they were not teaching students how to use and where to buy contraceptives. Which I don’t have to re-explain my logic there. I’m enjoying this discussion. Stay open minded to what I’m saying and respond to my logical concerns with logic rather than data.

    • You’re an odd fellow. You portray yourself as an expert and dismiss all science. And yet you admit that you don’t know much about most sex ed programs.

      I am open-minded and always am, but my mind isn’t so open that my brains fall out. If you consider that dismissing science is being open-minded, then no thanks.

      To be honest, I’m not enjoying this discussion. I run into so many denialists and anti-intellectuals that it gets a bit boring and tedious after a while. Your dismissal of data in favor of logic is an apologist’s trick to divert a discussion. When a fundy dismisses facts and tells me to stay open-minded, I know it’s time to give up on having an honest discussion with that person.

    • I read your blog. It was reactionary pablum. You didn’t deal with the data because you don’t care about the data. Your apologetic tactics tire me. I don’t like playing those dishonest games. You’re no longer welcome in my blog. If you try to comment further, I will block you and delete your comments. I’m always willing to have intelligent debate of facts AND logic, but someone who dismisses facts isn’t worth my time. Fuck off and die, fundy asshole! Quit spreading your fundy ignorance to a new generation.

  6. I did some websearches on the Waxman Report and came across some informative articles and reports. What particularly stood out was the details about misinformation and gender stereotypes in abstinence-only programs.

    One other interesting issue was about the biggest critic of the Waxman Report:


    Enter Rep. Mark Souder, who is on a mission to discredit the Waxman Report — which, you’ll recall, drew widespread attention the misinformation and gender stereotyping rampant in abstinence-only programs. Souder released a report this week called “Abstinence and Its Critics.”

    In it, he makes the same old unsupported arguments that abstinence-only works, trots out the same old bunk statistics, and makes the same old distortions of polling data about what sort of sex-ed most parents would like to see. What he doesn’t address are the Waxman Report’s charges of gender stereotyping in abstinence-only curricula, which leads me to assume that he’s probably all for messaging like “wear longer skirts, you sluts” and “boys can’t control their urges.”

    It turns out that while Mark Souder was defending traditional values he also was having an affair:


    Fundies are so predictable.

    Anyway, for those who aren’t anti-intellectual denialists or fundy propagandists, here are some links to the info I came across in my searching for info about the Waxman Report:


    Click to access AdvisoryOnACFsexEdReview.pdf












    Click to access Greenblatt%20Final.pdf





    Click to access AbstinenceOnly_10-07.pdf

    Click to access sexlies_stereotypes2008.pdf

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s