During an event to promote abstinence, a Las Vegas policewoman told a room full of girls and their parents that premarital sex can lead to prostitution, sex-trafficking, drugs and death.
Officer Regina Coward, who is also president of the Nevada Black Police Association, told the Las Vegas Sun she had organized the May 3 event on behalf of the non-denominational Victory Outreach Church, of which she is a member. She said the Las Vegas Metro Police Department co-sponsored the event but did not contribute money.
Coward showed the audience video interviews of pimps and prostitutes and graphic images of drug abusers. She also brought in two female performers from the “Toe-Tag Monologues” who acted out the stories of two women whose life choices result in death; the performances ended with the actors getting into body bags on a gurney.
But Coward's attempt at education might have been more of a risk than she realized. Studies show there is no evidence that abstinence-only programs work to delay sex until marriage.
According to a 2012 study by the Guttmacher Institute for sexual and reproductive health, “research shows that abstinence-only strategies may deter contraceptive use among sexually active teens, increasing their risk of unintended pregnancy and STIs.”
Similarly, a 2008 study out of Johns Hopkins University showed that teens who make virginity pledges -- a vow to hold off on sex until marriage -- were just as likely to engage in premarital sex as non-pledgers but more likely to practice unprotected sex.
A 2007 report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that a combination of abstinence and safe-sex education was most impactful on teens' sexual behavior.
Nevertheless, of the 37 states in the U.S. that require sex-education programs in school, 26 stress abstinence.