Trends show how abstinence effects teen life

Part 3 of a three-part series
Oregon Family Council

In the last series we discovered that abstinence-only education does work—teens do listen to and heed its message. But is actual sexual abstinence really important? What difference does it make whether a person starts having sex before marriage or waits?

Well, 91 percent of parents (who want teens to save sex until after high school) are right, and for good reason. Studies show that early sexual involvement is associated, not only with risk of HIV and other STDs, as well as unwanted pregnancy, but also with reduced psychological and emotional well-being, lower academic achievement, bleaker economic futures, and lower success in marriage.

In contrast, according to one report, “teens who abstain from sex are less likely to be depressed and to attempt suicide; to experience STDs; to have children out-of-wedlock; and to live in poverty and welfare dependence as adults. Finally, teens who delay sexual activity are more likely to have stable and enduring marriages as adults.”

This report focused especially on the implications for academic achievement, using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a national survey funded by more than 17 federal agencies. When compared to sexually active teens, those who abstain from sexual activity during high school years are:

• 60 percent less likely to be expelled from school;
• 50 percent less likely to drop out of high school;
• almost twice as likely to graduate from college.

These differences remain even after accounting for factors like socio-economic background and education time lost because of unplanned pregnancy. No matter what the other factors, teen virginity always led to better academic performance.

In the analysis of the report’s authors,

The linkage between academic achievement and teen abstinence has two primary explanations. First, teens who abstain will be subject to less emotional turmoil and fewer psychological distractions; this will enable them to better focus on schoolwork. Second, abstinence and academic achievement are promoted by common underlying character traits. Teens who abstain are likely to have greater future orientation, greater impulse control, greater perseverance, greater resistance to peer pressure, and more respect for parental and societal values. These traits are likely to contribute to higher academic achievement.

Yes, teen virgins, your futures are bright. You are the abstinent majority. We of the Oregon Family Council encourage you to hang in there and save yourselves for marriage; the wait will be well worth it!

And to all the rest of us—lawmakers, school administrators and teacher, parents—let’s give our kids all the support and guidance they need and want. Let’s help them save sex for a positive future.

The Heritage Foundation report, “Teenage Sexual Abstinence and Academic Achievement” can be found here

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