Perhaps nothing in public is more controversial than the question of what is the best way to delay sexual activity in youth. Some say abstinence education is the best way. Some say it’s a more broad approach and boosting self esteem. Some say it’s keeping kids involved in sports and other activities. Some people say it has to be one way or the other, while others say it shouldn’t be a one size fits all approach.
Anyway, there is an interesting new article in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine that is sure to stir the pot. Researchers compared the effectiveness of: 1) an 8-hour abstinence-only intervention that targeted reduced sexual intercourse; 2) an 8-hour safer sex–only intervention targeted increased condom use; and 3) an 8-hour comprehensive intervention that targeted sexual intercourse and condom use; and 4) an 8-hour health-promotion control intervention that targeted health issues unrelated to sexual behavior.
Here at ADHS we recently started back up abstinence only education using some lottery funds that are designated for that purpose. It sounds like the successful intervention mentioned in this week’s study did a lot of the same things we do in Arizona in our abstinence program, which is increasing skills to be abstinent and resist pressure to have sex as well as strengthening the belief that abstinence can help prevent pregnancy and STIs/HIV.