Brook, the sexual health charity, is warning that the UK launch of US evangelical sexual abstinence programme 'Silver Ring Thing' will not cut unwanted pregnancies or disease, even among the youngsters who sign up to the scheme.
The Silver Ring roadshow began on June 24 and will visit seven UK cities.
Brook chief executive Jan Barlow said various studies had shown abstinence education was not effective in reducing sexually-transmitted infections and teen pregnancy rates. "It leaves young people more vulnerable once they become sexually active, because those programmes don't talk about pregnancy, contraception and STIs - they deny that young people are going to grow up into sexually active adults."
Barlow also questioned Silver Ring's cultural transferability.
"Abstinence programmes tend to be formed around this notion of saving yourself for your spouse, but fewer people get married in the UK," she said. "People could be signing up for lifelong celibacy."
US President George Bush has doubled the federal budget for abstinence training to $270m, compared with $48m spent on sex education.