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Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Program, praised the results and said she hopes they revive government interest in abstinence-only sex education.
When asked if the new study might shape the Obama administration's policy, White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said: "Our approach is to use science and evidence to fund what works, while leaving room for innovation and new thinking. We feel the policy we introduced at the beginning of the administration accomplishes that."
The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and involved 662 black children in Philadelphia.
Monica Rodriguez of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, an advocacy group favoring comprehensive sex education, said the study doesn't mean other abstinence-only programs would work.
"It's unfair to compare this abstinence-only intervention to the typical abstinence-only-until-marriage program that young people in this country have been put through," she said. These typically portray sex and condom use in a more negative light, she said.
Rodriguez said the program studied might be one approach to try with younger children, but that it probably would be less successful with older, more sexually experienced teens.
Almost one-fourth of the teens studied said they'd already had sex at least once, similar to other studies of urban, mostly black middle school-aged kids.
The classes were taught at schools on weekends. Jemmott said the program might work better if it were taught during regular school hours by the students' regular teachers -- an approach he hopes to examine in additional research.
On the Net:
CDC teen sex data
National Abstinence Education Association:
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