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September 19th, 2012 by Equipping Youth

Why is it important for teens to abstain?

Thanks to your faithfulness we have seen thousands of students determine to remain abstinent until marriage.

Why is this important?” is a question often asked by well meaning persons. I will give you two reasons.

#1 Youth and their parents and the community benefit when teens remain abstinent.

Years of research show that when a teen starts any one risk behavior they soon become sexually active, and when sexually active they also soon start other risk behaviors. The opposite has been noted in research about the effects of abstinence programs; youth who pledge abstinence until marriage are less likely to participate in smoking, drinking, drugs, bullying, and taking physical risks like driving fast.

The cost of teen childbearing is the other part of this reason #1.

From a report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy:

“Teen childbearing in Iowa cost taxpayers at least $99 million in 2008. Most of the public sector costs of teen childbearing are associated with negative consequences for the children of teen mothers, during both their childhood and their young adult years. In Iowa in 2008, taxpayer costs associated with children born to teen mothers included: $17 million for public health care (Medicaid and CHIP); $38 million for child welfare; and, for children who have reached adolescence or young adulthood, $13 million for increased rates of incarcer ­ation and $27 million in lost tax revenue due to decreased earnings and spending.”

Costs and savings: – Between 1991 and 2008 there have been approximately 67,710 teen births in Iowa, costing taxpayers a total of $2 billion over that period. – Had it not been for significant declines in the teen birth rate in recent years, the costs to taxpayers would have been even higher. – The teen birth rate in Iowa declined 20% percent between 1991 and 2008. The progress Iowa has made in reducing teen childbearing saved taxpayers an estimated $34 million in 2008 alone over the costs it would have incurred had the rates not fallen”. Note: The rate of teen births is now 8% (2010) in Linn County compared to 20.6% in the state of Iowa.

the National Campaign to prevent teen pregnancy www.The National Campaign.org/costs

#2  Many lives are saved from abortion and from the devastation of STIs There is no perfect protection. While I was with Aid to Women I wept with many who were pregnant and had “used protection”. The rate of reportable sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among Iowa teens remains high along with other related negative consequences such as depression. More than 70% of the bacterial infections Chlamydia and Gonorrhea reported in Iowa were among teens aged 15 to 24 with a rate of 1,451 per 100,000 among 15-19 year olds.[1] These diseases are easily overlooked with many teens having no symptoms. EY staff and board members are alarmed for youth who think they are safe. Research results of condom use shows that even when consistently used, 50% of bacterial STIs are transmitted.   Sexually active teens are vulnerable to life-time damage of their reproductive systems from these diseases; not to mention the emotional and social scars from having other STIs.


[1] Prepared by Jungling, Josh for the Iowa Department of Public Health, Center for Health Statistics, Vital records 2007. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/USTPtrends.pdf 5-14-2010US

Ruth Anne Eccles, BSN, MSN

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