November 20, 2004
Abstinence Can Be Taught To Teenagers
CHARLESTON, S.C. For 15
years I've written columns about how teenagers can be taught to abstain from
sexual activity, but I have never seen a program as effective as what
Heritage Community Services offers to 25,000 students a year in South
Carolina and elsewhere.
Dr. Stan Weed, President of the Institute for Research
and Evaluation, studied the sex
initiation rates for a large sample of 8,346 S.C. students in Grades 7-9
from 1999-2001. He found that on average, 15.6 percent began sexual
activity over a year's period.
However, if the students were exposed to 450 minutes of
the Heritage Keepers Abstinence Program, or ten 45 minute classes in the 7th
grade, only 9.1% initiated sexual activity, a remarkable 42 percent
reduction. And if the students attended another 450 minutes in the 8th
grade, only 4.3 percent became sexually active.
That is a stunning 72 percent reduction in the
initiation of sexual activity.
"Abstinence education, when thoughtfully designed,
carefully developed and rigorously
implemented, changes the sexual behavior of adolescents," Weed asserted in a
"The process by which these changes occur is becoming
better understood. We know
some of the key factors which affect that behavior, many of which are
to influence, and that programmatic intervention can effectively address
them," he added.
What are those factors? There are five:
1. Self Efficacy, "the degree to which you can do what
you have set out to do," says Anne Badgley, Heritage President. It is more
than self-worth - a self confidence about their ability to accomplish
something important, such as remaining chaste.
2. Future Orientation is "the degree to which they see
their future so clearly that it
influences what they do today." Most adolescents have only a present
orientation, doing what gives them immediate satisfaction. Heritage
helps them "to get a vision for the long-term, by developing an expectation
that if they can delay gratification, the rewards are deeper and longer
lasting," asserted Mrs. Badgley.
Most of the kids in South Carolina public schools have
never seen or had explained what a healthy marriage is. Its building blocks
are what is emotionally familiar, socially and
intellectually satisfying. "We say that sex is like fire, which means
it is important to have it
surrounded by a fireplace, which makes it a safe place - a lifelong
relationship, a commitment that they are worth that kind of love and are
built for a vision that all long for, which a genital relationship would
destroy. They must avoid the risk of sexual activity if they are to have
hope for the future," she explained.
3. Sexual Values affirm the value of abstinence
and reject permissiveness.
4. Peer Independence is the degree to which a student
can resist pressure from peers that would put him or her at risk. Like
the other qualities, "refusal skills" are measured with a series of five to
seven questions that are predictors of the degree to which they can take a
stand with their peers: "Even when my friends want to do something I believe
is wrong, I
can stand up to them even if they get mad with me."
5. Behavior Intentions is one of the strongest
predictors of whether they will remain
chaste. Those who intend to abstain are more likely to abstain than
those who are not sure what they want to do.
These five important predictors of future sexual
activity were first identified by Dr. Stan
Weed more than a decade ago. What Mrs. Badgley and her associates have
done is to construct a course that builds upon them, creating a life skills
program that incorporates a
future orientation and peer independence into lessons that young people can
After the core curriculum is delivered in Grades 6 and
7, there is a Heritage Keepers Life Skills Education offered at five levels,
a dozen 90 minute lessons for Grades 8, 9, 10,11 and 12 that helps students
maintain their commitment as they get older, and the
Finally, Heritage developed courses for churches and
even parents on how to help their
children achieve the benefits of sexual abstinence and avoid consequences of
sex outside of marriage, which many of them know all too well. Parents
love the course and are grateful.
"When you think that the children are bombarded with
sexual messages, just two interventions can make a huge difference," Mrs.
Badgley concluded. "Every child should have the opportunity to hear this
message, delivered by people who really believe in them and the message."
April 25, 2019: Column 1966: Life
Expectancy Dropping in America
Protecting Girls from Suicide
The Message by Eugene Peterson
Green New Deal
Christian Persecution Rising Abroad
Gun Control Laws Needed
The Worst Valentine:
Pornography: A Public Health Hazard
Sextortion Kills Teens
Cohabitation: A Risky Business
Eight Reasons To Marry
Ten Myths of Marriage
The Ministry of Marriage 911
same sex marriage,
abortion and infanticide,