Abstinence versus Comprehensive Sex Education Essay

Submitted By nick005005
Words: 941
Pages: 4

Abstinence versus Comprehensive Sex Education “The United States ranks first among developed nations in rates of both teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases” (Stanger-Hall, 1). Every teenager’s health is important. Regardless of sex, age or race, each teen should be given the chance to stay healthy and have the knowledge to do just that. The controversy of whether to use abstinence-based sex education or comprehensive sex education has been a frenzied dispute in America for years. For the past seventeen years, the majority of states in America have been using abstinence-only based education because of additional funding given to states that upheld the standards required for sex education in the 1996 welfare law (do you know the name of this bill/law?). In abstinence-only education children are taught to say “no” under all conditions. The underlying logic of this method is that not having sex will keep them safe from pregnancies and all sexually transmitted infections. This is true; if teenagers don’t have sex it is very unlikely that they will get pregnant (unless they are the Virgin Mary), or get any STIs. On the other end of the spectrum is comprehensive sex education. This is an education program that uses age-appropriate material to educate teens on STIs, HIV, condom use and pregnancy. The idea behind this method is that teenagers will understand what is a healthy choice rather than an unhealthy one, and be able to make the best decision for themselves. An article from the PLoS ONE states that 38 of the 50 states have laws on sex education. The PLoS ONE created a chart that ranks these states from 0-3. 3 stresses abstinence until marriage, 2 promotes abstinence, 1 covers abstinence as a part of a comprehensive sex education program, and 0 does not mention abstinence at all. According to the PLoS ONE report: “In 2005, level 0 states had an average teen pregnancy rate of 58.78, level 1 states averaged 56.36, level 2 states averaged 61.86, and level 3 states averaged 73.24 teen pregnancies per 1000 girls aged 14–19”. This information shows that the lowest pregnancy rates occur in states where the sex education was ranked as level 1, in which a comprehensive sex education program that also discusses abstinence is taught. This information paves the road for people to start thinking that maybe a strictly abstinence-only sex education is not the best way to keep the teenagers of America healthy. It could be argued that sates in the U.S. choose what sex education program they will implement based on underlying values of families and communities. Using this logic, it would stand to reason that the majority of religious families would champion abstinence-only sex education, but that does not seem to be the case. “Approximately 82% of a randomly selected nationally representative sample of U.S. adults aged 18 to 83 years (N = 1096) supported comprehensive programs that teach students about both abstinence and other methods of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. In contrast, abstinence-only education programs received the lowest levels of support (36%) and the highest level of opposition (about 50%)” (Stanger-Hall, 8). There are many reasons why a comprehensive sex education program should be used throughout America, two of which are that it has been proven effective by other countries, and because what we have now is just not working. This issue is about the health of the children of America, and what is used and made into law today will affect generations of children to come. The decision on what sex education to use should be chosen by which program will keep these children healthier, and the data collected shows the best program is a comprehensive sex education that also discusses abstinence.
Austria, France and Germany all have lower teenage pregnancies then the U.S. Why is this?