Abstinence education not working, study finds

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States that prescribe abstinence-only sex education programs in public schools have significantly higher teenage pregnancy and birth rates than states with more comprehensive sex education programs, a UGA study has found. Researchers from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences looked at teen pregnancy and birth data from 48 U.S. states to evaluate the effectiveness of those states’ approaches to sex education, as prescribed by local laws and policies. The study is the first large-scale evidence that the type of sex education provided in public schools has a significant effect on teen pregnancy rates, researchers said. Along with teen pregnancy rates and sex education methods, they also looked at the influence of socioeconomic status, education level, access to Medicaid waivers and ethnicity of each state’s teen population. Even when accounting for these factors, which could potentially impact teen pregnancy rates, the significant relationship between sex education methods and teen pregnancy remained.

The full article, published in the online journal PLoS ONE is available at http://www.plosone.org.