Abstinence-only sex education

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Abstinence-only sex education is a form of instruction children that the best way to manage sexual relations is total abstinence. Far from being effective, there is significant evidence that it is counter productive, teenage pregnancies more frequent and increases sexually transmitted diseases.

Contents

Religious agenda

Main Article: Christian attitudes to sexuality

Some denominations have a very negative view of sexuality. Together with related views on contraception and abortion, much of the teaching of Christianity on sex and reproduction causes significant social problems.

To quote Sam Harris's book A letter to a Christian Nation:

"The problem is that Christians are not principally concerned about teen pregnancy and the spread of disease. That is, they are not worried about the suffering caused by sex; they are worried about sex. As if the fact needed further corroboration, Reginal Finger, an Evangelical member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, recently announced that he would consider opposing an HIV vaccine—thereby condemning millions of men and women to die unnecessarily from AIDS each year—because such a vaccine would encourage premarital sex by making it less risky. This is one of many points on which makes religious beliefs become genuinely lethal."

Counter arguments

Ineffective and counter productive in reducing teen pregnancy

While there is inherently nothing wrong with encouraging teens to abstain from having sex, teaching abstinence alone is not a effective method to prevent or decrease teen pregnancy or the spread of STDs. Rather, the opposite seems to be more accurate. For instance, children who are taught abstinence alone are less likely to use contraceptives when they do have sex, as many of them inevitably will. One study found that teen “virginity pledges” postpone intercourse for eighteen months on average—while, in the meantime, these virgin teens were more likely than their peers to engage in oral and anal sex.

Failure of disease prevention

The most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States is human papillomavirus (HPV), which infects over half the American population and causes nearly five thousand women to die each year from cervical cancer. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more the two hundred thousand die worldwide. In response, a safe and effective vaccine for HPV has been made. The vaccine produced 100 percent immunity in the six thousand women who received it as part of a clinical trial. And yet, Christian conservatives in our government have resisted a vaccination program on the grounds that HPV is a valuable impediment to premarital sex. These pious men and women want to preserve cervical cancer as an incentive toward abstinence, even if it sacrifices the lives of thousands of women each year.

Impossible goal

Sex is a natural part of human life and is unavoidable, if you want your child to grow up shielded from sex then move to another planet. Children will grow up and decide to have sex, but the important thing is that they know the risks and how to prevent them.

In the United States

Abstinence-only sex education in the U.S. has been increasing funds directed towards abstinence education since 1996. To qualify for funding, programs must meet the "A-H" criteria. Much debate has occurred since on the ethics and efficiency of abstinence-only sex education. When abstinence programs failed to reduce the teenage birthrate, the Bush administration instructed the US Centers for Disease Control to stop gathering data, and also forced them to shelve a project identifying those sex education programs which worked, after they found that none of the successful ones were "abstinence-only". A majority of abstinence-only sex education have been discovered to teach serious inaccurate information.

Statistics show that American teenagers have as much sex as teenagers in the rest of the developed world, but American girls are four to five times more likely to become pregnant, to have a baby, or to get an abortion. The rate of HIV and other STD's are much more higher among young Americans. The rate of gonorrhea among American teens is seventy times higher than it is among teens in France and in the Netherlands. 30 percent of our sex-education programs teach abstinence only (at a cost of more than $200 million a year) surely has something to do with this.


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