Minnesota report says abstinence-only sex education doesn't work
January 07 2004 12:00 AM ET
A report commissioned by the Minnesota Department of Health shows that the state's $5 million abstinence-only sex education program is not working, with students involved in the program today more likely to report having sex than those not enrolled in the program two years ago, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reports. About 12% of students at three junior high schools participating in the Education Now and Babies Later (ENABL) Program report having engaged in sexual activity compared with just 5.8% of students surveyed in 2001-2002, before the program was launched. The rate of students reporting that they'd like to have sex before high school graduation increased from 9.5% in 2001-2002 to 17% today.
The 91-page report, published on the health department's Web site, recommends including more information about contraception and protection against HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Currently the ENABL program mentions only the failure rate of condoms, not their effectiveness in preventing STDs. The report also showed that of 2,500 Minnesota parents surveyed, only 20% wanted their children to receive abstinence-only sex education; 77% wanted their children to learn about contraception.
Critics of the program say that the report clearly shows that abstinence-only sex education does not discourage young people from engaging in sexual activity. But ENABL supporters, including the Minnesota Family Council, say the reason the program is not more effective is that it encourages kids to wait only until adulthood before having sex and that it should stress waiting until marriage before having any physical or sexual contact.