5 Abstinence Programs Receive Favorable Reviews; Studies Show Education Influences Sexual Behavior

Article excerpt

Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Favorable research on five abstinence programs, including one criticized by a Democratic congressman, were presented yesterday at a conference on sex education.

The findings will help build a case for the validity of abstinence programs, said Dr. Joe McIlhaney, founder of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, an Austin, Texas-based nonprofit scientific organization that seeks to promote "healthy" sexual decisions, including sexual abstinence. The institute sponsored the conference, which ends today.

In their research on the Choosing the Best abstinence program, researchers Stan E. Weed, Nicole Anderson and Lynn Tingle compared about 200 Georgia middle-school students who attended the program with 140 peers who received four state-approved abstinence lectures in class.

The students who completed the interactive, multilesson Choosing the Best program scored significantly higher on abstinence issues than the control group.

But the most significant finding came a year later, when the students in both groups were asked if they had started having sexual intercourse. Only 11 percent of the Choosing the Best students said they had sexual intercourse, compared with 21 percent of the control group.

The research shows that the Choosing the Best abstinence program has "significant" short-term and long-term effects, program founder Bruce Cook said. …