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, researchers from the University of Georgia have determined.
The researchers 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.
"Our analysis adds to the overwhelming evidence indicating that abstinence-only education does not reduce teen pregnancy rates," said Kathrin Stanger-Hall, assistant professor of plant biology and biological sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Hall is first author on the resulting paper, which has been published online in the journal PLoS ONE.
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, Hall said.
"This clearly shows that prescribed abstinence-only education in public schools does not lead to abstinent behavior," said David Hall, second author and assistant professor of genetics in the Franklin College. "It may even contribute to the high teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. compared to other industrialized countries."
Along with teen pregnancy rates and sex education methods, Hall and Stanger-Hall 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 more strongly abstinence education is emphasized in state laws and policies, the higher the average teenage pregnancy and birth rates.
"Because correlation does not imply causation, our analysis cannot de
|Contact: Kathrin Stanger-Hall|
University of Georgia