Abstinence Education

Published on November 17th, 2011


Abstinence education in human sexuality should be well funded and promoted in schools, community-based programs, and a variety of other forums.  Unfortunately, in 2007 New York State ended its sexual abstinence program.

Conference Position

The New York State Catholic Conference strongly disagrees with this decision, and believes that the abstinence programs funded since 1998 were contributing positively to the health of New York’s adolescents.  Many of the faith-based providers of abstinence education in New York had been receiving positive program reviews over the years.

The Church strongly urges a state reinvestment in programs that teach sexual abstinence in an age appropriate factual manner, with a focus on character-building and respect for self and others.  We seek to secure state and federal funds to promote abstinence education through the development and replication of sample programs, the implementation of such programs, and the promotion of abstinence through the media.


Pre-marital sexual activity among young people represents a problem of enormous proportion and tragic implications.  The societal and personal consequences of abortion, out of wedlock birth, and the devastating spread of AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases have been devastating.  Effective and immediate action is needed to stop the dreadful string of consequences that flow from sexual activity outside of marriage.

Sexual abstinence is the most effective of action for our nation’s youth.  Indeed, abstinence is perfectly natural, and is practiced and promoted in connection with many spheres of life.  Government tells young people to abstain from smoking, drinking alcohol and using drugs.  Yet a contrary message is often delivered regarding premarital sex, a message wherein sex is accepted and promiscuity is touted as the norm.  Sadly, our young people are too often provided the utterly irresponsible message that restraint in sexual matters is not expected.

Sadly, at both the state and national levels, priority is given to funding and promoting the contraceptive-based model of sex education above the abstinence-based model.  At the federal level, it is estimated that funding to promote contraceptives and “safe sex” education among teens receives about 16 times the funding as abstinence-centered education.  In New York the disparity is even larger, as the government eliminated abstinence-based education programs entirely and transferred those resources to comprehensive contraceptive-based programs.

Yet a growing body of research confirms that abstinence-centered education decreases sexual initiation, increases abstinent behavior among sexually experienced teens, and/or decreases the number of partners among sexually experienced teens. According to the National Abstinence Education Association, there are now 22 abstinence education curricula which have been demonstrated to be effective in peer-reviewed studies. Among them, Game Plan, Aspire, Choosing the Best, and WAIT Training are the most commonly used, and all were shown to have a significant effect in delaying sexual initiation among students. Other programs, such as Healthy Respect, have been developed and found effective within New York State.

We urge New York State to once again provide the matching funds necessary for these critical abstinence programs.

You can download this document, Promote Abstinence Education, in PDF form.