Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage: An Updated Review of U.S. Policies and Programs and Their Impact

by John S. Santelli, Leslie M. Kantor, Stephanie A. Grilo et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, September 2017, Vol. 61, Issue 3, pp. 273–280

8 pp. 422 kB

Although abstinence is theoretically effective, in actual practice, intentions to abstain from sexual activity often fail. Given a rising age at first marriage around the world, a rapidly declining percentage of young people remain abstinent until marriage. Promotion of abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) policies by the U.S. government has undermined sexuality education in the United States and in U.S. foreign aid programs. The weight of scientific evidence finds that AOUM programs are not effective in delaying initiation of sexual intercourse or changing other sexual risk behaviours. Young people need access to accurate and comprehensive sexual health information to protect their health and lives.

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