NOTE: This file, it is being reposted in response to recent, well-funded efforts to discredit legitimate and needed information on abstinence and sexually transmitted disease.  



Sexual Abstinence Programs

" Abstinence programs may have been a noble and even a moral effort but it's now clear that they have created more problems than they have solved. " 


A recent UNICEF report said that the teenage birthrate in the U.S. is much higher than any of the top 28 countries of the world.

While U.S. tied Hungary for the most abortions, girls in the U.S. were not the most sexually active. Denmark holds that title. Even so, Denmark's rate of abortions is one half of that of the U.S. and its teen birthrate is one-sixth of ours.

The difference?  Effective sex education.

After spending hundreds of millions of dollars promoting sexual abstinence throughout the United States, the results seem clear. Although the efforts were politically popular with some voters, the main effect has been that more teens having unprotected sex -- a significantly higher percentage than before the abstinence campaign started.

And this resulted in a high percentage of sexual disease, unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

There is considerable evidence to support this.*

According to USA Today, 50% of young people in the United States will contract a venereal disease before age 25, a percentage significantly higher than other countries.

The decline in contraceptive use may cheer those who have promoted faith-inspired school curriculums where there is no discussion of birth control.  When condoms are mentioned it's generally to emphasize that they can fail. No one disputes that possibility, but without them the chances of pregnancy or sexual disease are far higher.

What's particularly sad is that some people are opposing such things as AIDS research and the vaccine for human papilloavirus (HPV), deemed the most common sexually transmitted disease for women in the United States.

We know that millions die around the world from AIDS, but most people don't know that HPV causes 5,000 women to die from cervical cancer each year in the United States, and about 200,000 world-wide.

Even though there is an effective vaccine against HPV which could save countless lives, some factions in the United States oppose making it available. 

Bogus Arguments

Various arguments have been put forth in talks to young people to discourage premarital sex.

Young people were told that there was a negative relationship between being sexually active and school grades.

However, a major research study found that for young people in ongoing sexual relationships there was almost no relationship. (Interestingly some parents protested to a California newspaper that featured this story, saying young people shouldn't be told about research like this.)

Another argument has been that sexually active girls end up with emotional problems.

But then it was found that the girls that "ended up with emotional problems" either had them to start with or because of existing environmental factors were already predisposed toward them.

We were also told that knowledge about birth control and, in particular, condom use would encourage premarital sex.

Simply put, research does not show this to be true.

There are valid reasons to discourage premarital sex, but trying to sell the idea on the basis of emotional presentations and faulty science can backfire.

After young people find that what they have been told is bogus, they start to disregard even valid information.

Abstinence Pledges

 Abstinence pledges are often signed by young people following emotional and often misleading talks about the dangers of sex. 

 Studies show that more than 50% of the young people who sign these pledges break them within a year.

 Parents and school boards around the country are getting the message and opting out of abstinence programs, saying the money would be better spent on effective sex education.

 As early as decade ago, even before the results of the above studies were released, a survey sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation, NPR, and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, found that 65 percent of parents of high school students said that federal money, “should be used to fund more comprehensive sex education programs that include information on how to obtain and use condoms and other contraceptives.” 

[Also see The Price of Prudery and Turing Logic Upside Down]

*  Based in part on studies by Columbia University and the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Centers for Disease Control, and reports in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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