Concerned Parents  Report © is dedicated to reporting information and imparting knowledge to parents so they can empower their children to make the healthiest choice for their reproductive health - living a  chaste lifestyle

 

Great News: Parents + Abstinence Education = Lowest Risk of Teen Pregnancy and STDs

In today’s world, teens are exposed to sexual content every day, and parents have reason to be concerned.  Recent studies have found that parental involvement and abstinence education can have a strong positive influence over a teen’s sexual behaviors.

While going through a process of emotional growth in adolescence, teens frequently get involved in risky sexual behaviors which expose them to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Researchers have found that abstinence-only sex education intervention programs are effective in the prevention of unintended adolescent pregnancies. [1]  Abstinence education, in fact, led to a 67% decrease in teen pregnancies during the 1990's, [2] and recently the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that high school students are having less sex and fewer sexual partners today than in the early 90’s.[3]  True abstinence education programs help young people to develop an understanding of commitment, fidelity, and intimacy that will serve them well as the foundations of healthy marital life in the future. Abstinence education programs have repeatedly been shown to be effective in reducing sexual activity among their participants. [21] For example: In a one-year follow-up study of the "Choosing the Best" Abstinence-Centered Curriculum, 2.3% fewer students were having sex than predicted. Additionally, 54% of the teens that had been recently sexually active before the program were no longer sexually active one year later. [22] The Best Friends Abstinence Program, found that junior high and middle school-aged girls in the Best Friends program compared with their peers in DC public schools are six and a half times less likely to have sex before marriage. [4] [20]

Some teenagers wonder why practicing abstinence is important. As a parent you are the one left to answer this important question. Let your kids know that sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) are a major health epidemic. In fact, 1 in 4 teenage girls right now has an STD. [5]  The only way for teens to completely eliminate the risk of contracting an STD is by practicing abstinence and  postponing  sexual involvement.  Even if your teen is already sexually active, practicing abstinence will immediately lower his/her risk of sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy.

Preventing sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies through abstinence also has the following additional benefits:

  • Teens who abstain from sex until at least age 18 are also less likely to be expelled or drop out of high school and are more than twice as likely to complete college when compared to teens who do not abstain from sexual activity.[6]
  • It has also been found that teens who remain virgins until age 18 are significantly less likely to experience divorce if/when they marry. [7]

Abstinence education is important in your teen’s life, but your actions and relationships also have a tremendous influence over whether your teen engages in a risky lifestyle behavior.

  • Teens who perceive that their parents strongly disapprove of them having sex during adolescence are less likely to have sexually transmitted infections 6 years later. [8]
  • Fathers, both natural and stepfathers, can impact the age at which their teens have sex. For example, a father who has a close relationship with his daughter can influence her to delay her sexual debut. [9] One study found that about one-third of all children in the United States will have lived with a remarried or cohabiting parent before they reach adulthood. When the relationship between a stepfather and stepchild is close, the stepfather may actually influence his stepchild’s attitudes towards sex.[10]
  • Teenage girls who have close relationships with their mothers wait longer to have sex for the first time. [11] Adolescent females whose mothers do not vocalize disapproval of them having sex face a higher odd of being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection or disease. [12]
  • You can also help your teen to make the safe choice to remain abstinent by encouraging them to make a virginity pledge. Teens who make a virginity pledge are 34% less likely to become sexually active than peers who do not pledge.[13]
  • Also, remember that the friends your teen associates with will have a strong influence on their decision. For example, one study found that friends' religiosity is associated with delayed first sex of religious and secular youth. [14]

Be watchful of the media exposure affecting your teen. The media has a strong influence over your teen’s sexual behaviors:

  • Exposure to sexual content in music, movies, television, and magazines accelerates white teens’ sexual activity and increases their risk of engaging in early sexual intercourse. [15]
  • Teens who view more sexual content on television are more likely to initiate intercourse and progress to more advanced noncoital sexual activities.[16]
  • Watching television for two or more hours per day and a lack of parental regulation of television programming are each associated with an increased risk of initiating sexual intercourse among teens. [17]
  • American teens listen to between 1.5 to 2.5 hours of music a day and researchers have found that music with degrading sexual lyrics has been linked to early sexual behavior. [18]

Lastly parents, remember that your relationship with your teen will have a huge impact on their life. The closeness to fathers and mothers in adolescence is linked with good relationships with partners later on in adult life. [19]

Footnotes:

[1]Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention: An Abstinence-Centered Randomized Controlled Intervention in a Chilean Public High School, Journal of Adolescent Health, 2005, pp. 64-69.

[2]An Analysis of the Causes of the Decline in Non-Marital Birth and Pregnancy Rates for Teens from 1991-1995, Adolescent & Family Health, Vol. 3, No. 1, March 2003, pp. 1-6.

[3]Nation′s High School Students Showing Overall Improvements in Health-Related Behaviors , 2007 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, May 2007

[4]Best Friends Results, Best Friends Foundation, 2005, pp. 1-3.

[5]Nationally Representative CDC Study Finds 1 in 4 Teenage Girls Has a Sexually Transmitted Disease, 2008 National STD Prevention Conference, Press Release, March 11, 2008.

[6]Teenage Sexual Abstinence and Academic Achievement, Paper presented at 9th Annual Abstinence Clearinghouse Conference, August 2005.

[7]Association of Virginity at Age 18 with Educational, Economic, Social and Health Outcomes in Middle Adulthood, Adolescent & Family Health, Vol. 3, No. 4, 2005, pp. 1-9.

[8]Predicting Adolescents’ Longitudinal Risk for Sexually Transmitted Infection, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Vol. 159, July 2005, pp. 657-664.

[9]The Parent-Child Relationship and Opportunities for Adolescents' First Sex, Journal of Family Issues, 27(2), pp. 159-183.

[10]Stepfather Involvement and Adolescents’ Disposition Toward Having Sex, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Vol. 39, No. 2 June 2007, pp. 82-89.

[11]Mothers’ Influence on Teen Sex: Connections That Promote Postponing Sexual Intercourse, The Center for Adolescent Health and Development, 2002, pp. 1-24.

[12]Longitudinal Prediction of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Among Adolescents: Results from a National Survey, American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 2000, 18 (4).

[13]Promising the Future: Virginity Pledges and First Intercourse, The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 106, No. 4, January 2001, pp. 859-912.

[14]Friends Religiosity and First Sex, Social Science Research, 2006, pp. 924-947.

[15]Sexy Media Matter: Exposure to Sexual Content in Music, Movies, Television, and Magazines Predicts Black and White Adolescents’ Sexual Behavior, Pediatrics, Vol. 117, No. 4, April 2006, pp. 1018-1027.

[16]Watching Sex on Television Predicts Adolescent Initiation of Sexual Behavior, American Academy of Pediatrics, Vol. 114, No. 3, September 2004, pp. 280-289

[17]Television Viewing and Risk of Sexual Initiation by Young Adolescents, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Vol. 160, April 2006, pp. 375-380.

[18] Exposure to Degrading Versus Nondegrading Music Lyrics and Sexual Behavior Among Youth, Pediatrics, Vol. 118, No. 2, August 2006, pp. e430-e441.

[19]What Predicts Good Relationships with Parents in Adolescence and Partners in Adult Life: Findings From the 1958 British Birth Cohort, Journal of Family Psychology, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 186-198.

[20]Lerner, Robert. Can Abstinence Work?: An Analysis of the Best Friends Program, Journal of Adolescent and Family Health, Vol. 3, No. 4, April 2005

[21]The Effectiveness of Abstinence Education Programs in Reducing Sexual Activity Among Youth, The Heritage Foundation, April 8, 2002, pp. 1-12.

[22]Choosing the Best Abstinence Centered Curriculum: Longitudinal Study 1995-1996, Northwestern University Medical School, Mental Health Services & Evaluation Program.

 


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