Abstinence education that works

Some eye-opening thoughts in this Washington Post letter to the editor (Thursday, December 30, 2004, Page A26) fly in the face of conventional wisdom about "safe sex" education:
The ability to forgo sexual relations until marriage makes it more likely that a teenager will be able to devote the time and energy necessary to self-discovery and achievement.

For eighth-grade girls in the Best Friends program, sexual activity was 13 percent, compared with 30 percent for their peers, according to a 2003 research study. In the Best Men program, it was 30 percent, compared with 50 percent for their peers. Girls who remain in Best Friends until ninth grade have a 100 percent graduation rate from high school.

In 1987, when we began the Best Friends program through the Child Development Center at Georgetown University, the pregnancy rate for 12th-grade girls in D.C. public schools was 28 percent. In 2000, the most recent year for which statistics are available, it was less than 18 percent.

The Best Friends and Best Men curricula are based on solid research and are field-tested. Our research is peer-reviewed, and the significant results in the reduction of sexual activity in D.C. public schools and nationwide have been accepted for publication by Adolescent and Family Health, a journal of the Institute for Youth Development. Our curricula is updated annually and reviewed before it is put into print.

The Best Friends Foundation teaches more than 6,000 young people across the nation and hopes to bring this message to more than 80,000 students within 10 years. We can do this for as little as $125 per student annually.

Abstinence education was unfunded before 1999. Thankfully, the president and Congress saw the potential for abstinence programs and have been increasing funding the past several years. Yet, according to Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, for every $12 spent on contraception and contraception education, only $1 is spent on abstinence education.

Founder and President
Best Friends Foundation
Washington, D.C.
I taught a curriculum in my Sunday School class a few years ago called "True Love Waits." It's an abstinence curriculum based on Biblical principles. It's an excellent curriculum for youth with a strong faith, but I'm not sure that the less committed or less spiritually mature students in the class bought it. Best Friends and Best Men seem like very positive, practical, and proven programs with a secular approach. Anyone looking for a youth program that promotes abstinence, self-esteem, character, and achievement should check out Best Friends and Best Men.