WASHINGTON - Abstinence-only education programs meant to teach children to avoid sex until marriage failed to control their sexual behavior, according to a government report.

For the report, a group at Mathematica Policy Research interviewed more than 2,000 teenagers with an average age of 16. They lived in rural and urban communities in Florida, Wisconsin, Mississippi and Virginia. About 1,200 of them had taken part in abstinence-only education programs four to six years before.

"For both the program and control group youth, the reported mean age at first intercourse was identical, 14.9 years," says the report.

Teens in both groups were just as likely to use condoms or birth control, the report found.