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Report: Abstinence and Information – it Takes Both for TN Teens

November 8, 2007

Nashville, TN – Just saying "no" is not enough –- at least, not when it comes to sex education for Tennessee teens. A new study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy shows "abstinence only" programs don't change teen behavior. Instead, it takes a more comprehensive program to help teens gain confidence in their ability to say "no."

Keri Adams, vice-president of community affairs for Planned Parenthood of Middle and Eastern Tennessee, says the research bolsters her organization's long-time philosophy.

"While we are teaching abstinence, which is a primary focus, we are also including information to help them keep themselves safe and prevent unplanned pregnancies."

Adams agrees with the study's conclusion that the most effective sex education for teens requires not only biological and scientific information, but a partnership to deliver the message.

"I hope that people who are opposed to comprehensive sex education look at these studies and say, ‘Wait a minute, we need to be working together to keep our teens safe and healthy in Tennessee.’"

Bill Albert, of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy adds the most successful programs they discovered in their research are those that reach out to kids on several levels.

"There's a role for parents to play here, there's a role for the local business community to play, and there's a role for the education community to play."

Supporters of "abstinence only" education believe adding information about birth control encourages teen sexual behavior, but the study results don't support that view. Congress is considering spending more than $100 million for "abstinence only" sex education programs.

The full study is available online, at www.teenpregnancy.org.

Deborah Smith/John Robinson, Public News Service - TN