Clarissa Jane Fender
10 April 2017
The Reality of Abstinence Versus Sex Education
Do you ever stop to wonder what goes through a teen’s mind? Maybe it 's the late paper that wasn 't turned in for English or the worry of coming home after school to family members being high as a kite, maybe it 's the plans for their significant other later on or the so called special night they have planned together. Whether it be one of the topics mentioned or some far off random thought either way sex will be on a teen’s mind at some point now, some point soon, or some point in the future. Sex is a part of everyday life and it can not go unthought about and although abstinence would be one 's best bet for preventing stds and teen …show more content…
They would rather just tell them to abstain from sexual activity and refuse to get them to acknowledge the methods of sexual pleasure. Politicians have different opinions than of parents and teachers however, which has resulted in cutting of federal funding for sex education in schools (Dailard, Cynthia). Parents and teachers believe they should have more say seeing how they spend every day with the children. Most politicians are older males who don’t relate well to young people at all. The average age of people in the Senate is sixty-three and the average age of someone in the House of Representatives is fifty-seven. This is the oldest Congress to take office in 2009 (Palmer, Brian). Why do we expect older men to make these decisions about our children when we are the people who see what goes on in their lives everyday? Abstinence is not necessarily valuable for teens to acknowledge because “There is no evidence that an abstinence-only curriculum maintains abstinence any longer than the regular sex education curriculum taught in most schools. Morality needs to incorporate reality, and the reality is that young people are sexually active.” ("Do abstinence-only sex education programs work?" ). “Another method is 100 percent effective—not to mention, popular, enjoyable, and free. It 's non-intercourse lovemaking, genital massage, and oral sex. But even the most liberal programs never mention it. To do so would acknowledge sexual
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During 1920s, U.S. schools began to incorporate sex education to their courses. A 2002 study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that “58% of secondary school principals describe their sex education curriculum as comprehensive programs provide factual information about birth control, sexual transmitted disease, and continue the message to children about waiting to have sex.” (Johannah)
People such as President George W. Bush has made no secret of his view that sex education should teach teenagers "abstinence only" rather than including information on other ways to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Unfortunately, despite spending more than $10 million on abstinence-only programs in Texas alone, this strategy has not been shown to be effective at curbing teen pregnancies or halting the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. (2010 Union of Concerned Scientists) In addition, the Bush administration distorted science-based performance measures to test whether abstinence-only programs were proving effective, such as charting the birth rate of female program participants. In place of such established measures, the Bush administration required the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to track only participants' program attendance and attitudes, measures designed to obscure the lack of efficacy of abstinence-only programs. (Federal Register 65:69562-65, November 17, 2000). This
Additional research has explored the effects of abstinence based programs on actual behavior outcomes. Kohler, Manhart, and Lafferty (2008) compared the effects of abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education programs, operationalizing effectiveness in terms of initiation of sexual activity and teen pregnancy rates. They found that teenagers who received comprehensive sex education rather than abstinence-only or no education were significantly less likely to report a teenage pregnancy. In addition, their conclusions mirrored Sather and Kelly (2002), finding that abstinence-based programs did not reduce the likelihood of engaging in sexual activity. Kohler, Manhart, and Lafferty (2008) actually concluded that comprehensive sex education was more likely than abstinence based to reduce the percentage engaging in sexual activity. Overall, the researchers showed that comprehensive sex education, including but not limited to contraception, did not increase the prevalence of sexual activity in teenagers or the risk of teen pregnancy, while also showing the that abstinence only education produced a higher likelihood of pregnancy.
According to advocatesforyouth.org, “Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are a waste of taxpayer money.” Since 1996 over one billion dollars has been spent on these programs. Because these programs are unsuccessful many people argue that it is a waste of money to spend billions of dollars on ineffective programs. However comprehensive sex education which teaches students about contraceptive usage and abstinence does not get the funding that abstinence only receives.
In 2005, nearly half of all high school students have had sexual intercourse. Plainly stating that abstinence programs do not work (USA Today). Abstinence programs were beneficial many years ago, but since they are ineffective in delaying teen pregnancy, then teen pregnancy rate has increased. Abstinence programs teach the “no sex until marriage” clause, but they don’t teach teens about birth control and the consequences of having sex at before they’ve matured. Although many studies argue that abstinence programs are educational and beneficial, other studies will show that they don’t delay teen sex, they don’t prevent the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), and are a waste of taxpayers’
Oliver’s next line sums up why we need accurate and authentic comprehensive sex education in schools: “Kids have good questions that need good answers.” Oliver goes on to deliver startling statistics such as only 22 states have laws in place to mandate sex education and with only 13 of those states requiring the curriculum being taught to be medically accurate (LastWeekTonight, 2015; Avery, Carvell, Gondelman, Gurewitch, Haggerty, Maurer, Oliver, Sherman, Tracy, Twiss, Weiner, 2015). Oliver continues to spew forth important reasons why abstinence only sex education can be detrimental to adolescence. Some abstinence only sex education programs compares people that engage in pre-marital sex as “used toothbrushes” or “chewed up gum” (LastWeekTonight, 2015; Avery et al. 2015). A video clip of Elizabeth Smart, a well-known rape survivor, discussed how detrimental abstinence only education affected her mentally because all she could think of was being a piece of chewed up gum even though it was not her choice to have sex before marriage (LastWeekTonight, 2015; Avery et al. 2015). Before signing off with a celebrity filled sex education video, Oliver articulates another quote that is difficult to argue against; “Human sexuality, unlike calculus, is something you actually need to know about” (LastWeekTonight, 2015; Avery et al.
Proponents for abstinence-only education believe that the abstinence-only message has contributed to the decline of adolescent sexual activity as well as negative related outcomes. In the 1990s there was a decrease in adolescent pregnancy, birth and abortion rates. These proponents attribute these declining statistics to the abstinence-only message and claim that the declines cannot be accredited to increased
It is time for a change in the way teenagers are approached with sex, instead of forcing them into abstinence without so much as explaining why they should be abstinent. They should be presented with the facts and how to be safe because it is no longer a time where children will just do as they are told just because they are told not to do something. If they are engaging in these acts the least that could be provided for them is a class on how to keep themselves and their partners
Supporters of both programs argue that the other is ineffective and has reverse effects on society. Each side also argues their program is the correct way to further society. What should be funded federally and supported is also up for debate amongst both sides of the argument. However, federal programs have supported abstinence education in the past; but the viewpoint by in office presidents has shifted in recent history (Lee.) As the world becomes more accepting of difference, education on topics grows, and science discovers additional information relating to sex education the programs each the discussion will become more complicated. Programs have evolved over the years to tell the same message in a new way, keeping the debate of abstinence based sex education
Teenagers are notorious for being curious. Not every teenager has, but there are many who have tried drugs and alcohol despite all of the school’s and parent’s warnings. Why is sex any different? A study in 2015 reported that 41% of high school students have had sexual intercourse (Child Trends Data Bank). That number isn’t extremely concerning but what is the legitimate likelihood that all of those students were honest? Schools such as MCPS teach about contraceptives, but stress abstinence more than anything. By withdrawing information such as a minor’s rights when it comes to abortion or contraception, students could ruin their entire future. Everyone has made mistakes and has regrets, but withdrawing information from students in the hopes that they practice abstinence is not worth a student’s future. School systems should be teaching students their rights when it comes to sex.
Federal funding has played a large role in this increase, as monetary incentives have been the driving force behind much of the change. To put it in numbers, the amount of federal dollars going to schools that adopted abstinence only programs almost tripled in the seven years between 1998 and 2005, increasing from 60 to 168 million dollars a year (Santelli, 75). And among United States school districts that changed their policies, twice as many chose to adopt a curriculum that more heavily focused on abstinence only until marriage as moved towards a more comprehensive program (Landry). This disturbing statistic shows how effective the religious right has been in pushing abstinence only programs in face of a dearth of evidence as to their effectiveness. This effectiveness is mainly due to intense lobbying funded by individuals and organizations on the far right. One man, Raymond Ruddy, has personally put 1.5 million dollars towards advocacy and lobbying for abstinence only programs (Eaton). While lobbying like this commonly happens on both sides of the aisle, in this case public opinion goes against what people like Raymond Ruddy say is necessary. According to a recent study, "Ninety-eight percent of parents say they want HIV/AIDS discussed in sex education classes; 85% want 'how to use condoms' discussed; 84% think sex education should cover 'how to use and where to get other birth control,' and 76% want
Even though Amy Schwarz is not an expert in adolescent development or sexual studies, she is an expert in the legislative system. I learned that politics play an important role in sex education programs from her article. A big reason as to why abstinence only programs are still the preferred sex education curriculum among schools is because of Title X, Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Security Act (TANF). It all started with Richard Nixon and the ever increasing teen pregnancy rates. The amount of pressure that was placed upon him to control the numbers of teen moms lead to Title X. I had no clue what Title X was before this article and how it was supposed to “reduce unintended pregnancies by providing
There are bouncy bosoms on television, Mary Boo Peep’s seductive behavior towards Woody in Toy Story, and lyrics that promote promiscuity blaring on pop radio. The fact that sex sells is something we cannot avoid, it’s fed to us from all media outlets. Parents and caregivers have the option to shelter or to educate children on what they will face. “Many parents are rather shocked at how early I suggest they should start talking to their kids about sex,” states Hickling, “But what I also hear from parents is ‘I want to be first.’ If you want to be first, you have to make sure you’re first; otherwise, kids will get their information and attitudes from other children and the media” (Buni). While conservative abstinence-only supporters have stated “Why on Earth would you talk to your kids about sex? Kids aren’t sexual. The information is useless to them at best. At worst, it robs them of their innocence and makes them curious about sex when they shouldn’t be. Sex is a topic for adults, not teens, and certainly not little kids” (Buni). Still, over eighty percent of high schools teach abstinence as the most effective method of safe sex (HRF) and according to the National Abstinence Education Association, there is a growing body of research that confirms that abstinence-centered education decreases sexual initiation. According to conservatives, these social conventions of refraining from sexual talk would provide young people with
It has been almost thirty three years since the first federal funding was put to use in “. . . sex education programs that promote abstinence-only-until-marriage to the exclusion of all other approaches . . .” according to the article “Sex education” (2010) published by “Opposing Viewpoints in Context;” a website that specializes in covering social issues. Since then a muddy controversy has arisen over whether that is the best approach. On one hand is the traditional approach of abstinence (not having sex before marriage), and on the other is the idea that what is being done is not enough, and that there needs to be a more comprehensive approach. This entails not only warning against sex, but also teaching teens about how to have
Teenage sexual activity has sparked an outcry within the nation. With such activity comes a high price. Studies have shown that there has been a significant rise in the number of children with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), emotional and psychological problems, and out-of-wedlock childbearing. Sex has always been discussed publically by the media, television shows, music and occasionally by parents and teachers in educational context. Teens hear them, and as the saying goes, “monkey see, monkey do”, they are tempted to experiment with it. Therefore, it is important for every teenager to be aware of the outcome associated with premature-sex. If students are educated about the impact of