A study published in the Archive of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine that evaluated the efficiency of abstinence-only education in young adolescents found the advice to abstain from sex is a viable preventative method.
The study showed that only one-third of the sixth and seventh-graders that were offered an eight-hour abstinence-focused program started having sex within two years. Nearly one-half of students in other classes, including a combination of contraception and abstinences, reported becoming sexually active.
The findings prove abstinence-only education can work.
"I think we've written off abstinence-only education without looking closely at the nature of the evidence," said John B. Jemmot III, a professor of communications at the University of Pennsylvania who led the study, told the Washington Post. "Our study shows this could be one approach that could be used."
The study, which was paid for by the National Institute of Mental Health, comes amid an intense debate on how to reduce teenage sexual activity and pregnancy. The Obama administration eliminated more than $170 million in annual federal funding for abstinence programs after a series of reports found that the approach was ineffective.
A recently released study by the Guttmacher Institute sited abstinence-only education as the reason for a radical increase in teenage pregnancy rates.