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Bruce Cook – President & Founder of Choosing the Best
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Mathematica Findings Too Narrow

ATLANTA, April 16, 2007 — The recent March conference on the Evaluation of Abstinence Education, sponsored by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), featured at least 30 significant evaluation studies that demonstrated positive trends in teen abstinent behavior, says Valerie Huber, Executive Director of the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA). The NAEA also recently released a list of numerous peer-reviewed, published studies that demonstrate that abstinence education programs are effective in delaying sexual debut, reducing partners once sexually active, and empowering sexually experienced students to embrace abstinent behavior. This list is available online at http://www.abstinenceassociation.org/docs/NAEA_Abstinence_Works_041207.pdf (PDF, ~50KB)

Then late last week, The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation released findings from a multi-year evaluation of four Title V abstinence education programs, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. The study indicated that “program group” students were no more likely than “control group” students to abstain from sex. However, according to the HHS fact sheet (~35KB), the study involved only 4 out of 700 available Title V abstinence programs, including some of the first abstinence programs ever available. Additionally, the study called for students to receive an abstinence program in elementary or middle school and then be evaluated four to six years after they received the program.

“It’s misguided to think these narrow results are reflective of the effectiveness of abstinence education as a whole”, says Bruce Cook, President of Choosing the BestPublishing, “especially when there are numerous studies proving that abstinence education works. In addition to the studies cited by the NAEA, students who received Choosing the Best had a statistically significant, 47 percent decrease in the initiation of sex versus a control group who did not receive the program.”

According to Cook, “If you really want to create a behavioral change, you can’t expect to give students an abstinence program in elementary or even in middle school and then just walk away. It’s critical that kids receive a strong abstinence message that’s reinforced throughout middle and high school. To that end,Choosing the Best offers five distinct, age-appropriate programs and encourages middle and high schools to use them in sequence to achieve the best results.”