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'Sex Respect'

July 26, 1994

We so appreciate the article about the County Women's Commission study on teen pregnancy and their encouraging recommendation of sexual abstinence education.

Of further encouragement was the finding of a federally funded study of an abstinence program called "Sex Respect," under a grant from Title XX and funded by the Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs, a division of the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The study again proved that abstinence education does work.

Follow-up studies of 3,500 students who took the Sex Respect course and a comparison group showed considerably lower pregnancy rates one and two years after participation as compared to the comparison group.

We shouldn't be surprised. Kids want to know that not everyone is doing it. Unfortunately, too many of our youth learn their values from TV sitcoms and have come to believe that promiscuity is normal and healthy.

Glad for the hope that this may change, despite Hollywood.

DONNA and EARL BROWN, Santa Paula

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We were so pleased to read about the Teen Pregnancy Committee's report to the Ventura County supervisors. It was especially encouraging to read that abstinence education is to be promoted. But will it really?

Too often the abstinence message from "safe-sex" professionals is: "Abstinence is best, but teen sex is inevitable: Use a condom." Not very persuasive, we'd say.

Thankfully there are some excellent programs that actually teach abstinence. "Teen-Aid," "Choices," "Reasonable Reasons to Wait" and "Sex Respect" are just a few that help kids make good sexual decisions.

Elaine Bennett started a curriculum in Washington, D.C., no less, to help inner-city youth remain abstinent until graduation from high school. In seven years, only one girl has become pregnant following the "Best Friends" program. This shows what can be accomplished when children have the right kind of support from their elders and peers.

HERB and ANGELA MILLER, Ventura

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