U.S. teens say yes to sex despite abstinence programmes

Young people who are encouraged to practice abstinence still regularly engage in sexual behaviour, new research suggests. The study found that North American schools that prescribe abstinence-only sex education programmes often have higher rates of teenage pregnancies.

Investigators from the University of Georgia found elevated birth rates in these schools when compared to regions that offered more comprehensive courses on copulation.

Kathrin Stranger-Hall, Assistant Professor of Plant Biology and Biological Sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the institute said:

"Our analysis adds to the overwhelming evidence indicating that abstinence-only education does not reduce teen pregnancy rates."

David Hall, co-author of the report, which has been published in the journal PLoS ONE, noted that the findings may even suggest abstinence-only education programmes serve to contribute to higher levels of teenage pregnancy.

Dr Cynthia Graham, a Chartered Psychologist, said these findings are consistent with previous studies that have revealed abstaining from sexual activity has little impact on sexual behaviour and pregnancy rates.

"Previous studies have shown that when individuals who take virginity pledges do engage in sexual behaviour, they often engage in unprotected sex," she added.