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Research Indicates Health Benefits from Abstinence Education, even for Sexually Active Teens

June 15, 2004

Dr. Jeff Tanner, Baylor University professor of Marketing and the researcher responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of the Panhandle's Worth the Wait abstinence program, has found that even teens who do not choose to abstain from sexual behavior are reaping the benefits from the knowledge they get about topics such as goal setting, communication, media awareness, reproductive anatomy, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and childbirth.  In fact, sexually active teens participating in Worth the Wait are three times more likely to seek medical attention, including testing for STDs, than sexually active teens not in the program. 

Worth the Wait Executive Director, Stacey Ladd, says giving teens the information needed to make decisions about their health is critical.

"Many teens think they would have symptoms if they contracted a sexually transmitted disease, but the majority of STDs have no symptoms, or the symptoms are mistaken for something else," Ladd said.  "Teens are smart, and once armed with  information they usually make sound health decisions, like visiting a doctor to get tested for STDs."

In addition, sexually active teens are told that because they made the decision to be sexually active in the past does not mean they cannot change that decision for their future.

"Since having multiple sexual partners is the greatest risk factor for contracting STDs, Worth the Wait stresses that abstinence is the healthiest decision for sexually active teens," Ladd said. "Then we give all teens the skills they need to make that decision a reality."

Worth the Wait is a non-profit educational organization that has addressed abstinence since its inception in 1998 in Gray County.  Since that time, teen pregnancy rates in Gray County have decreased 53%.  Worth the Wait's currently operates in 9 counties in the Texas Panhandle.  Its mission is to promote abstinence from sexual activity until marriage with a strong emphasis on the physical, emotional, and social benefits teens will get from this lifestyle. 

Worth the Wait's primary goal is to delay the onset of teen sexual activity, thereby decreasing teen pregancy and sexually transmitted disease, which costs taxpayers seven to fourteen billion dollars each year.

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