WASHINGTON, April 14 (UPI) -- A U.S. federal abstinence program has had little effect on its young participants.
The more than 2,000 youth who participated were no more likely to abstain from sex than those who were not enrolled in the program, the Washington Times reported Saturday.
The final report from the U.S. Family and Youth Services Bureau confirmed what youth officials suspected:
"You can't expect a little dose in middle school to be protective through high school if abstinence education ends before the most important years," said Bureau Commissioner Harry Wilson.
The study begun in 1996 involved children ages 11 and 12 in Wisconsin, Florida, Mississippi and Virginia. Follow-ups were conducted five years later.
Critics said the program wasted time and money.
"These failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs will go down as an ideological boondoggle of historic proportions," said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a group that promotes responsible sexual behavior.