Research on abstinence-only sex education

Pediatrician and medical school professor Dr Aaron Carroll summarizes (in eight minutes) the research on abstinence-only versus comprehensive sex education:


The title at the top of the window above — “The Evidence for Abstinence-Only Sex Education Is Scant” — is potentially misleading. There is in fact a great deal of research on the subject, so what the title is meant to convey is that there is not much evidence supporting the use of the abstinence-only over comprehensive sex education. What the research shows is that

  • Abstinence-only is better than nothing at reducing teen sexual activity, but
  • Comprehensive sex education is better at reducing teen sexual activity. In addition, it has better outcomes by multiple other measures as well.

These results are even stronger when considering the best studies, those that make use of randomized controlled trials. RCTs are more reliable because they reduce the chance that the outcome is the result of some confounding variable, such as parental influence.

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