Teens Who Abstain Are Healthier – Research

Media Release 30 November 2016
Family First NZ is welcoming a new report from the US showing that high school students who abstain from sexual activity rate significantly and consistently better in nearly all health-related behaviours and measures than their sexually active peers. The research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the first ever of its kind, examines a large and diverse array of high school students’ health behaviours according to their self-reported sexual activity.

“This result is probably not surprising to many parents and educators, yet is denied or ignored by some groups who like to push the so-called ‘safe sex’ message and the flawed ‘love your condom’-type messages,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“The good news is that young people are increasingly rejecting the ‘you can’t control yourself so here’s a condom’ message and are choosing to abstain. The most recent Youth Survey (2012) from Auckland University revealed that less than 1-in-5 teens are currently sexually active. The ‘postponing sexual involvement’ message is getting through and resonating with young people.”

The CDC research looked at the health disparities between three categories of students: abstaining (virginal), opposite-sex-active (OSA), and same-sex or bisexually active (SS/BA).

Findings include:
Dating Violence: OSA teens are 260% more likely to experience some form of physical violence in dating relationships than virginal peers. SS/BA teens are 683% more likely than virginal peers.

Smokes Daily: OSA teens are 3,300% more likely to smoke daily than virginal peers. SS/BA teens are 9,500% more likely than virginal peers.

Ever Binge Drank: OSA teens are 337% more likely to ever binge drink than virginal peers. SS/BA teens are 375% more likely than virginal peers.

Marijuana Use: OSA teens are 336% more likely to be currently using marijuana than virginal peers. SS/BA teens are 483% more likely than virginal peers.

Ever Injected an Illegal Drug: OSA teens are 500% more likely to have ever injected a non-prescription drug than virginal peers. SS/BA teens are 2,333% more likely than virginal peers.

Felt Sad or Helpless: OSA teens are 48% more likely to report feeling so sad or helpless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row that they stopped doing some of their usual activities, compared to virginal peers. SS/BA teens are 181% more likely than virginal peers.

Physical Fighting: OSA teens are 133% more likely to have been in a physical fight than virginal peers. SS/BA teens are 187% more likely than virginal peers.

“These findings reiterate the view that postponing sexual involvement is in the best interests of our young people’s general health and well-being. Sexual activity at a young age has implications beyond just the physical act,” says Mr McCoskrie.

Family First released a report in 2013 “R18: Sexuality Education in New Zealand – A Critical Review” by US psychiatrist Dr Miriam Grossman which was sent to all school principals and all Board of Trustee Chairpersons of Intermediate and Secondary schools in NZ. Dr Grossman warned that the sex education resources in NZ fail to tell the full facts and compromise the concerns and wishes of parents, and the safety of young people. It said:

“A premise of modern sex education is that young people have the right to make their own decisions about sexual activity, and no judging is allowed. Risky behaviours are normalised and even celebrated. Children and adolescents are introduced to sexual activities their parents would prefer they not even know about, let alone practice. It’s reasonable to ask: is the ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ foisted on young people all over the world about sexual health, or sexual licence?” says Dr Grossman.

“Studies show that the biggest protective factors for coping with puberty and sexual involvement are married and committed parents, family values, parental supervision, and parental expectations for behaviour. What happens at home is the greatest determinant of the outcomes for the young person,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“This latest research backs up the importance of the ‘wait’ message.”

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