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April 28, 1999

Abstinence and Safer Sex Among Adolescents

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1999;281(16):1485-1488. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-16-jbk0428

To the Editor: Although it is interesting to see reported that safer sex methods will have an effect even 1 year after the introductory sessions, it disturbed me greatly to note that the mean age of the enrollees in the study by Dr Jemmott and colleagues1 was 11.8 years. I suggest to the authors that the proper intervention was not education, but rather to contact the appropriate authorities, including child protective services and the police. Sexual activity for 11- and 12-year-olds is by definition, sexual abuse. In my state of Texas, if I am aware of sexual abuse of a minor, I am required by law to report it to the appropriate authorities. For Jemmott and colleagues to ignore this aspect of their research was an outrage. In his Editorial, Dr DiClemente2 also completely missed the broader issue of child sexual abuse. I agree with the authors that sexual activity and STI are significant problems in these young children, but I believe the proper intervention is not sex education classes, but the timely application of social resources to stop child sexual abuse.

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