Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Say no to sex... and then what?

How effective are abstinence pledges?

The problem is too many people have detached sexual chastity from personal holiness. Sexual chastity is not an end in itself, not just faddish way to be unique and counter-cultural, but is a radical virtue aimed towards deeper union with God at all moments, and more transparent intimacy with a spouse later on. Saying no to sex without saying yes to something better is, as the data indicate, simply inadequate.

Studies show that abstinence campaigns do delay sexual activity, with pledgers first having sex an average of 18 months later than those who have made no such promise. But when they fall off the wagon - and many do - about a third do not use contraception. ...

And those who have pledged to remain virgins until marriage have similar rates of sexually transmitted diseases as non-pledgers, according to a six-year study of the sex lives of 12,000 young Americans.


Study of 12,000 aged 12 to 18

Six years on, 99% of non-pledgers had sex before marriage

So too did 88% of pledgers ...

"It's difficult to simultaneously prepare for sex and say you're not going to have sex," said Peter Bearman, of Columbia University, in presenting his findings earlier this year.

"The message is really simple: 'Just say no' may work in the short term but doesn't work in the long term." ...

Supporters of comprehensive sex education say that as well as being encouraged to delay sex, teenagers should be given information about birth control and protection against disease.

Hear, hear!

Yet in the US, the abstinence-only movement has expanded from a collection of disparate groups into a centrally-funded drive to tackle unsafe sex, backed to the tune of $270m by the Bush administration. ...

In Uganda, unlike its African neighbours, the spread of HIV has declined dramatically over the past decade or so. Its success is thought to be down to a three-way shift in sexual behaviour: abstinence, condom use and monogamy.

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