back to article Hormonally challenged teens refrain from abstinence

Teenagers will not refrain from having sex, even if you spend a billion dollars trying to persuade them to keep their trousers zipped and chastity belts locked. This is the conclusion from a six year study by Mathematica Policy Research into the sexual behaviour of more than 2,000 teenagers across four states, and a variety of …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On a related matter


    So, the effectiveness of purely contraception-based sex education a la the UK has been established, right? We have really low rates of teenage pregnancy? Phew, that was me worried for a while!

    Before indulging in the usual Bush-bashing, I suggest you do a little research. A cursory Google brings up this:-

    Average intercourse seems to be just over 17 in the US, but in this study is reported to be just under 15. I'd call their sample very unrepresentative :-(


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, how many had sex?

    How does this article get away with dismissing abstinence education, and then not mentioning a single figure about the rate of teenage sex before and after the programs were initiated? Sure, it's titillating to think about 14-year-olds dispensing with rubbers, but this ends up being a real fluff piece, Lucy.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So 23 percent use condoms, 17 percent sometimes do and 4 percent never do.

    44 percent there by my maths.

    I always thought statisics were a load of bollox.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Over one half of studied teenagers ceased existing?

    23% always used condoms

    17% sometimes used them

    4% never did

    This is 44% - what happened to the other 56%? Is it just me, or is there another possible answer to this that I'm missing?

  5. Scu

    Something doesn't seem to add up

    The statistics don't seem to add up. Either people always, sometimes, or never use condoms. Therefore, the sum of the percentages should add up to 100, right?

    What am I missing?

    Also missing is other statistical indicators around the 14.9- like what's the standard deviation?

    A link to the original report would be nice too.



  6. Adam Azarchs


    I'm not at all surprised that abstinence education doesn't work. What surprises me is that education which teaches the importance of condoms and such doesn't work. Surely a condom is far less of an imposition on raging teen hormones than abstinence.

    And 14.9 years old? Yeeks.

  7. Dale

    The other 56%

    Obviously, the other 56% didn't know what condoms were because they were only taught about abstinence as a form of birth control. HA!

  8. Geoff Gale

    It Depends on What the Meaning of Sex Is....

    How did this study define sex? Only genital intercourse? Were any other sex-like activities counted?

    For those in the memory impaired seats, the world was so graciously treated to that whole "oral-sex-isn't-really-sex" line courtesy WJ Clinton a few years back and it begs the question whether the study in question defined sex and, if so, how?

    In the final analysis, however, does it come as a surprise to anyone that teens are still having sex despite the efforts to stop them? It seems as though anyone who's viewed the vids/movies/printed word that kids consume would easily understand that the subtext of sex is almost universally present and is likely to undo virtually any efforts to put that nasty ol' sexual genie back in the bottle.

  9. John Stirling

    missing info

    Just a guess, which the 44% conundrum suggests; Perhaps the other 56% haven't had sex in the last year - which is sort of stated, albeit not very elegantly.

    Possibly the average age quoted is of those who have sex during the study. Add back the 'non joiners' and you probably get to around the figures from the Kinsey institute quoted by Rupert Fiennes.

    On the other hand I'm all in favour of a bit of Bush bashing, so perhaps it's him popping around to all the teenagers and bringing the average down. Or would that have been Clinton?

    Whilst my natural instinct is that social & religious programming (abstinence pledging) is not a good thing, whereas I think enabling choice (including a genuine choice to say no, or say yes, but safely) probably is, it would be nice to see some genuine statistics from a robust study, and the underlying study this piece is about might well be that, but this article gives no indication. I think the numbers are probably fine, if insufficiently explained, Overall a little sloppily written.

  10. Gregory Marton

    Yeah, so google it

    Whiners annoy me.

    The pdf is <a href="">here</a>.

    Your missing 56% is those who remained abstinent.

    The statistical significance tests were performed, and the point is that the null hypothesis, that the two groups were drawn from the same distribution, could not be rejected. The associated p-values ranged from .32 (ReCapturing the Vision) to .90 (My Choice, My Future!) in total abstinence, and .28 to .79 (same) in abstinence in the last 12 months. The in-betweener programs studied were FUPTP and Teens in Control.

    There were some differences: the overall identification of STDs in the program group was statistically significantly higher in the program group than in the control group, with p < 0.01.

    Finally, on age, the report says:

    "For both the program and control group youth, the reported mean age at first intercourse was identical, 14.9 years. This age is seemingly young, but recall that the outcome is defined only for youth who reported having had sex and the average age of the evaluation sample was less than 17." (page 18).


  11. Steve VanSlyck


    "teens refrain from abstinence..."

    Golly gee. Who'da thought.

  12. Graham Lockley

    Isnt it obvious ?

    The remaining 66% were so scared sh*tless by the graphical PowerPoint presentations of STD's that they pursued 'solo sex' :)

  13. Graham Marsden

    Remaining abstinent....?

    But were the missing 56% "remaining abstinent" because they didn't want any or because they're the unpopular/ unattractive/ geeky with no social skills bunch at school who just don't *get* any?

  14. Slaine

    ad nausium

    Thanx 4 the link...

    Where do I start on this shower of tripe?

    The "wealthy palefaces" and the "african american control" groups are both rural... the Miami and Milwalki groups are urban (immediately there is a bias). There are different delivery programmes for each and they are given to different age groups in different venues at different times and cover different curriculums. It is no surprise the figures don't add up. So then they give lots of random sex knowledge to a bunch of hormonally rampant teenagers and then expect them all to say, "yeh, cool, I will now wait for 3-6 years before I try any of that fun stuff out".

    The Control group probably benefitted the most, with two years of "pull-out" class sessions. (PMSL)

    "Of those who said they'd had sex in the last year, 23 per cent in both groups said they always used a condom, 17 per cent only sometimes using a condom, and four per cent never did."... and 56% is either a testament to lesbian relationships (not requiring the use of birth control) or an indication of how much variance there is in the data. What a waste of $87.5 million annually.

  15. Steven Walker

    Whiners annoy you?

    Smartarses annoy me!

    According to the article:

    "Of those who said they'd had sex in the last year, 23 per cent ....."

    Which makes it pretty clear that 44% are not accounted for. My assumption was that they were too busy bonking to answer silly questions. I have a life and could not be bothered to google for the original story :)


  16. Olof P

    To Slaine:

    The control groups are AT EACH SCHOOL, not one program being a control group for another, which would indeed be silly. I suggest that you try reading at least the summary and not just glancing at the tables.

    The point is that these programs do not make teenagers less likely to have sex than their peers.

  17. Glenn Amspaugh

    Teach them to play D&D

    Get early teens interested in SF/F and D&D and they won't get laid until they hit college ("There's a time and a place for everything kids and it's called college." –Chef).

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