from HIV InSite - Gateway to AIDS Knowledge which was at http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu/ads/9710/97100608.html
McIlhaney Jr., Joe S.
Insight (09/29/97) Vol. 13, No. 36, P. 24
Safer sex education should not be taught to adolescents as a viable alternative to abstinence, according to Dr. Joe McIlhaney, founder and president of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health in Austin, TX. McIlhaney notes that adolescents and young adults are at the highest risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STD), in part because of their still immature reproductive systems. However, behavior also plays a key role; the age at which a person starts having sex and the number of different partners he or she has are two primary factors in STD infection.
As an example, McIlhaney cites a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey that found that nearly 20 percent of students have had at least four sexual partners by the time they reached the 12th grade. Moreover, various studies indicate that the percentage of sexually active teenagers who consistently use condoms is between 5 and 40 percent, and only about half of adolescents report using condoms correctly. Statistics also show that 25 percent of all new HIV infections are in individuals younger than 22, and that 25 percent of sexually active teenagers contract a STD each year.
Although opponents have argued that abstinence education is "unrealistic," McIlhaney asserts that "it is certainly no more unrealistic than expecting teens to achieve ideal condom usage." Furthermore, he adds that while safer sex education can offer only risk reduction, abstinence attempts to eliminate that risk.
The CDC National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention makes this information available as a public service only. Providing this information does not constitute endorsement by the CDC. Reproduction of this text is encouraged; however, copies may not be sold, and the CDC National AIDS Clearinghouse should be cited as the source. Copyright 1996, Information, Inc., Bethesda, MD
ATLANTA---Jan. 28, 1997--
Abstinence-based program in Georgia schools produces promising results in attacking teen pregnancy problem:
"Choosing the Best," a sex education program used in Georgia schools including two state pilot programs in Carroll and Muscogee counties has a statistically significant impact on teen behavior, according to a study released today by Northwestern University Medical School.
The results from a one-year study of 2,500 teens showed that one year after completing the "Choosing the Best" program, the number of newly sexually active teens fell 21 percent below predicted levels. In addition, 54 percent of the teens who had been recently sexually active before participating in the program were no longer recently sexually active one year later.
"The study's findings are statistically significant in showing that Choosing the Best changed the behavior of teens who used the program," said John Vessey, Ph.D., who directed the research.
"Choosing the Best" is a medically based sex education program for middle schoolers that encourages abstinence until marriage by providing the motivation and skills to remain sexually abstinent. Created by Bruce Cook, president of Rapha Counseling Services, Choosing the Best uniquely involves parents through homework discussion assignments, parent orientation sessions and a practical how-to book for parents entitled, "How to Help Your Teens Choose the Best -- Abstinence Until Marriage."
The program has been purchased by one-third of Georgia school districts and has received enthusiastic reviews from teachers, parents and students.
"If teens are sexually active, they will likely get pregnant because they are poor contraceptive users," said Jan Greene, a Muscogee County health educator who has overseen Choosing the Best's instruction to more than 4,000 eighth-graders. "Choosing the Best is a great program. Our students have been very responsive to it and we hope that many of them will choose to abstain."
The Northwestern research comes in the midst of heated political discussions about how $7.9 million in state funding for welfare reform should be used to reduce Georgia's high teen pregnancy rate.
The 1995-1996 Northwestern University study focused on the post-test and one-year follow-up information provided by 2,541 students ranging in age from 13 to 16 from 65 Illinois public schools. Test results immediately following the course indicated that over 74 percent of all students participating in the course were then willing to say "no" to sex before marriage. In addition, 60 percent of those students who were sexually active were then willing to also say "no." The one-year follow-up study showed behavior changes then resulted with 54 percent of the teens who had been recently sexually active before participating in the program being no longer recently sexually active one year later. Other findings of the study indicated a high correlation between teen sexual activity and at-risk behaviors of drinking and smoking.
"The study shows a strong correlation between teens' attitude and behavior changes after experiencing Choosing the Best," said Bruce Cook, who developed Choosing the Best along with other parents of teenagers, teachers and medical doctors. "Our medical experts agree that abstinence prevents not only pregnancy, but the spread of sexually transmitted diseases which can lead to a multitude of problems in later life. It seems only logical to appropriate funds to encourage programs like Choosing the Best which have strong success data to back them up."
Cook is president of Rapha Counseling Services, a national hospital-based counseling and treatment program for adults and adolescents struggling with emotional and substance abuse problems. He holds degrees from Georgia Institute of Technology and Harvard University.
Dr. Bill Roper, former director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), states, "I have reviewed Choosing the Best and I believe it to be a well-prepared program that gives young people needed information and helps them build the skills they need for making healthful decisions."
CONTACT: McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations, Nashville. Teresa Miller,
Choosing the Best, Atlanta. Betsy Weitnauer,
from Friends First, PO Box 356, Longmont, CO 80502-0356
Abstinence until marriage is unrealistic. Aren't you ignoring the reality of premarital sex?
One twelve year old girl approached a speaker after an abstinence presentation. She was upset about the recent break-up of a relationship with an older boy. She said she had sex with the boy for over a year, and was experiencing emotional pain from the break-up. The speaker asked her if her mother had talked to her about sexuality. The girl responded by saying "yes, she told me to wait until I was really in love and he was really special."
Based on her experiences, this twelve year old girl followed her mothers advice. While we are well aware of the fact some people will not remain chaste until marriage, marriage provides a concrete ideal for children to work toward and provides time for them to develop fully, until as adults they have the ability to make sound and healthy choices about love and relationships. We know that behavior will fall somewhere slightly below the standard. The ideal of abstinence until marriage sets expectations that will raise the level of behavior for society. We do a disservice to teens by withholding ideals because some people can't, don't or won't get married.
By teaching abstinence, aren't you ignoring the need for education about contraceptives for those teens who are sexually active?
Prevention efforts can be categorized into three levels:
FRIENDS FIRST is a primary prevention strategy. Discussion regarding information about birth control is utilized in secondary and tertiary efforts. It is our recommendation that when birth control is discussed at these other levels that it meet the following criteria:
The question is not "if", but when, how and by whom. Adults have the responsibility to tell teens the truth. Condoms are not fool proof and do not always provide adequate risk reduction for diseases spread by skin-to-skin contact such as Human Papilloma Virus, Herpes or Syphllis. Multiple partners are the primary risk factor spreading disease. If teens make other choices, they will be responsible for the consequences. We must be ethical in our response to the younger generation, and not perpetuate unhealthy, uncommitted adult or teen sexual relationships.
What do I do about this aggressive teenage boy/girl that is "coming-on" to my daughter/son?
Many teens feel intense pressure from other teens in their peer group. Teens mature faster then they used to and have false expectations and ideals about their sexuality from the culture, especially if a lack of parental communication and boundary setting exists in the home. We recommend:
Help your teen to communicate that she/he is not interested in that kind of a relationship. Encourage honesty and assertiveness in dealing with sexually-oriented advances. Help you teen define the boundaries around the relationship.
If the other teen persists at school or at home, call that teen's parents and request a personal meeting to discuss this problem directly. Involve the principal of the school if necessary.
I'm a parent of the opposite gender of my child. My spouse is not available. I want to help my child understand the physical changes to expect during adolescence, I feel uncomfortable with the topic, can you help?
Many parents that are the opposite gender of their child find it difficult to discuss biology and reproduction during puberty. We recommend that these parents find a trusted relative or friend of the same gender as the child that has a good relationship with the child to assist in direction and guidance. Imparting healthy, positive messages regarding physical maturation is enhanced by the comfort level of both adult and child.
How do I help my child set boundaries around sexual behavior in order to make healthy choices about relationships and understand the benefits of abstinence. What should I do?
If you are a parent of the opposite gender of your child, you are in an ideal situation to discuss the relational aspects of dating and intimacy. We recommend taking your child on daddy dates or mommy dates to model high standards and respect. These high standards will be a yard stick that your child will forever use to measure their future dates.
For example with girls between ages 11-13 years:
On these memorable occasions, talk to your daughter about what guys think, what it's like to go through puberty, how visually stimulated guys are, etc. Communicate the fact that she is unique and precious and that her sexuality is a wonderful gift you hope she does not give to uncommitted immature relationships. Many dads will give a chastity ring to their daughters to represent the gift of sexuality to be given to her future husband on her wedding day. Dads can encourage their daughters to make a promise when they receive the ring to save themselves for that one special person who is willing to commit fully to her.
For example with guys between ages of 12 - 14 years:
Mommy dates can include sporting events or other activities interesting to your son. Communicate the appropriateness of locations and need to maintain boundaries that avoid "romantic" situations. Tell your son about his precious sexuality and that you hope he saves that gift for a committed mature relationship like marriage. Moms can also give a special ring or necklace to serve as a symbol of his sexuality best given in a marriage relationship. Discuss the needs of women, and the false perceptions of how media portrays women as objects. Let him know that if a woman dresses seductively on dates she may not understand appropriate ways to achieve respect. Set expectations with your son around standards for himself that encourage respect of sexuality and modesty for men and women alike.
Parents must understand the importance of leading by example. If you want to encourage sexual abstinence until marriage for your children, you must also model that behavior yourself. Multiple sexual partners in your home is not healthy for you or your child and serves to put your child at more risk for multiple partners and uncommitted relationships. Research also indicates that the risk for sexual abuse increases when the child is exposed to their parent's adult sexual partners in the home that are not related or committed to the family or parent. Sexual abuse increases risk of both disease transmission and teen pregnancy.
Single parents can provide appropriate adult role models for their children by trusted adults of the opposite sex. Faith communities, churches, and synagogues offer the opportunity to experience appropriate models of both genders for children in single parent families.
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