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Contact: Lori Buttars
Public Information Officer
(801) 399-7114

Press Release
November 26, 2007

Survey Shows Community Support For Abstinence Education

Nearly 80 percent of residents in Weber and Morgan counties say it is important to emphasize abstinence in public sex-education courses, according to the results of a new survey conducted on behalf of the Weber-Morgan Health Department.

The telephone survey of 500 people was conducted in September by the Spectrum Education Group as part of a study to test public awareness of the health department’s community-based abstinence program. The Weber-Morgan Health Department recently completed the first year of a 5-year, $3 million federal grant for abstinence curriculums.

A portion of the survey looked at public support for abstinence education in Weber and Morgan counties. Some of the findings include:

- 79.8 percent of the respondents say it is important for teenagers to participate in abstinence programs in schools and other community agencies.
- 81.6 percent say promoting abstinence is an effective way to reduce teen pregnancy and prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
- 88.6 percent believe teens are more likely to experience harmful physical and emotional consequences as a result of sexual activity.

“These numbers show that our constituency wants and values abstinence education,” says Becky Tierney, program director at the Weber-Morgan Health Department.

Tierney notes that successful abstinence programs take an expanded approach, including discussions for young people on how to build successful relationships, increase self-esteem and improve their decision-making skills. She is encouraged by recent studies of programs in Georgia and Virginia, where studies of similar programs have shown that youth who have received abstinence training had reduced numbers of sexual partners and were more likely to delay sexual activity than those who had not been exposed to abstinence programs.

“We know we can’t make the choices for them,” Tierney says. “But at least we know, after attending our classes, they can make more informed choices and become aware that abstinence is still the best and safest way for young people to avoid the economic, emotional and physical results of early and casual sex.”

In its first year, Weber-Morgan Health Department launched its first major ad campaign. Health educators made presentations to schools, community agencies, detention centers and various youth programs. This included classes offered in Spanish to the Hispanic population. For more information about the Future Method Program, see our website, www.futuremethod.org.