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Abstinence Education Works
New federal government study hails benefits of character-based abstinence education for teens

A new government-funded study that shows the positive effects of abstinence education gives further support to the methods of the classroom-based Healthy Respect program, which has brought the life-affirming abstinence message to more than 1,000 New York teens.

The study, released June 14 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), shows that abstinence education brings about healthy changes in teen attitudes toward the dangers of premarital sex and helps young people form character and self-confidence. Students in the study who participated in abstinence programs:

  1. had an increased awareness of the consequences of sex before marriage;

  2. placed a greater value on abstinent behavior; and

  3. had less favorable attitudes about sex before marriage than did students who were not in abstinence programs.

“We welcome the findings of the of the study reported by Health and Human Services as further support for abstinence education and the great benefits it can bring to the lives of young people,” said John Margand Esq., executive director of Healthy Respect. “The positive results reported by HHS parallel our own research findings among the students we have been teaching in New York. Abstinence education builds character and gives young people the personal resources and the support they need to make healthy decisions for life. It helps them avoid the pitfalls of teen pregnancy and the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, while putting them on track for academic and future success.”

Margand added, “We hope this study will put to rest the notion that teens are not capable of accepting the abstinence message and taking it to heart. Programs like Healthy Respect appeal to young people’s strong desire for good relationships, good health and a better future. The theme we teach is DO NO HARM: to yourself, to others or to your future.”

Conducted by Mathematica Policy Research of Princeton, N.J., the study is the second of a three-part analysis sponsored by Health and Human Services. It is based on a longitudinal research project of teen attitudes and behaviors conducted over a five-year period. The third phase of the study, due out next year, will examine how abstinence education affects teen behavior. The report is available at http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/05/abstinence/index.htm