Comprehensive Sex Education Works

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Adolescents receiving comprehensive sex education had a substantially lower risk of teenage pregnancy than students who received either abstinence-only education or no education at all, according to a new, groundbreaking study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The study, conducted by Pamela K. Kohler, M.P.H., Lisa E. Manhart, Ph.D., and William E. Lafferty, M.D., also concluded that teaching about contraception did not increase sexual activity or sexually transmitted diseases.

"The sexual health statistics in America are alarming," said Debra Hauser, executive vice president of Advocates for Youth. "We know that 1 in 4 teen girls have a sexually transmitted disease, that the HIV rate among African American young men who have sex with men has increased by 80 percent, and that the teen birth rate has increased for the first time in fourteen years."

"We must, absolutely must, stop censoring sexual health information about contraception and condoms and start investing in programs that we know work," concluded Hauser. "The blame for these negative health statistics rests squarely with this Administration's push for ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs."

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To date, seventeen states -- Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming -- have rejected federal Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funding for these failed programs.

In addition, over the last ten years, a number of other reports and studies have sent clear signals that funding abstinence-only-until-marriage programs was wrong:

-- Late last year, Doug Kirby, a leading researcher in adolescent health, issued a report Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Disease, that concluded "there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence, or reduces the number of sexual partners."

-- In April 2007, a 10-year government-mandated study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. showed that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs did not impact teen behavior.

-- In 2006, the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM) called the programs "scientifically and ethically flawed" and found that the "efficacy of abstinence-only interventions may approach zero."

-- In 2000, the Institute of Medicine stated that the abstinence-only policy was "poor fiscal and public health policy" and recommended that the programs be stopped.

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