What the Research Shows: Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs Don’t Work

There is no conclusive evidence that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which teach students to abstain from sex until married and generally only teach about contraceptive failure, reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Moreover, research indicates that many of these programs do not help teens delay having sex. The federal government has funneled well over half a billion dollars since 1997 into abstinence-only programs, steadily increasing funding in recent years to more than $165 million annually.

On the other hand, evidence shows that comprehensive sexuality education programs that provide information about abstinence and contraception can help delay the start of sexual activity in teenagers and increase condom use among sexually active teens.

REPORT: Putting Teens At Risk: A Report on Abstinence-Only Programs in North Carolina

ARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Foundation

Young people need and deserve complete, accurate, and culturally and age-appropriate
information about their reproductive health, including abstinence, pregnancy prevention,
and sexually transmitted disease (STD) and HIV/AIDS prevention. Sexuality education
in public schools is one way to impart important information and skills for students to
delay sexual intercourse and to use safer sexual methods when they do not choose to
abstain. In North Carolina, this is particularly crucial due to the following alarming
statistics:

• NC has the ninth highest teen pregnancy rate in the US.