New CDC Report Shows Abstinence Education Works, Pregnancy Rates Lower

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 13, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New CDC Report Shows Abstinence Education Works, Pregnancy Rates Lower

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 13, 2004

Washington, DC ( — A new report from the Centers for Disease Control shows abstinence-only education is working as fewer teens are having sex and that the age in which young people begin having sex is on the rise. Teen pregnancy rates are also on the decline.

The report showing fewer teenagers engaging in sexual relations, "Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2002" found that declines were particularly large among males age 15-19.

While 55 percent of teenage boys in that age range say they were sexually active in 1995, only 46 percent say they were in 2002.

Compared to a similar review in 1995, teenagers are putting off having sex and the average age of the first time has risen.

In fact, the report shows that abstinence education has been so successful that the total number of teens abstaining from sex before marriage nearly achieves 2010 targets previously set. In those targeted projections, abstinence educators hoped for rates of 90 percent for teens under age 15 and 75 percent for teens among 15-17.

"It’s hard to argue with numbers. Abstinence education is reaching kids where they’re at and helping them to make healthy choices for their futures," said Leslee Unruh, president of the Abstinence Clearinghouse.

The report also showed that, for the first time since it began collecting information in 1973, more girls in all age ranges say they are sexually active (47 percent) than boys (46 percent).

Unruh said teenagers were making better choices than using contraception because they have seen friends become pregnant or have STDs as a result.

"They want something better. That’s why they’re choosing abstinence," she said.

Older girls and black Americans were the only groups to not show a decline in sexual activity.

Abstinence education has become a topic of national debate as President Bush has spent $170 million to promote abstinence programs and abortion advocates are on the attack. They released a highly politicized report two weeks ago claiming abstinence programs teach false information and that they don’t work to prevent teen pregnancy.

However, the CDC showed some of the most dramatic improvement came in that area.

In 1991, 62 of every 1,000 American girls ages 15 to 19 gave birth and a decade later, the teen birth rate fell to 43 per 1,000.

Unfortunately, the report also showed that nine percent of sexually active females age 18-24 reported that their first intercourse was involuntary.

In preparing its analysis for the survey, the National Center for Health Statistics interviewed close to 3,000 teenagers in one-on-one conversations in the home.