Telling teenagers not to have sex until they get married is a waste of breath, a US expert told a 'World Congress for Sexual Health' meeting in Sydney.
William Smith, the vice president of the Sexuality, Information and Education Council of the US, told delegates that a six-year study commissioned by the US Congress found that the hundreds of millions of dollars the government had spent on pushing sexual abstinence outside marriage had had no discernible effect on behavior.
"It's an entirely ideological subset of issues being pushed by a far right-wing in our country," Smith said in Sydney. "That's what these programmes are about."
The study, released in April, found that there was no difference in sexual behavior between those who attended the abstinence talks and those who did not. They had sex at the same age and with approximately the same number of partners.
"These programmes are all about denying young people information about condoms and contraception," Smith said.
He urged the US government to change tack and talk to young people about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases and not just about abstaining from sex.
"I always say abstinence should be the first, second, third and last thing out of our mouths - it just shouldn't be the only thing," Smith said.