Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An End to Abstinence-Only Sex Education?

Gwyneth Doland blogs about Obama’s 2010 budget that aims to replace abstinence-only education with comprehensive, ‘evidence-based’ sex education. Supporters of this measure argue that abstinence-only education is ineffective and unfounded. Contrastingly, those against such budget alterations assert that this won’t put an end to abstinence-only education since it is funded with more than federal money, but also that abstinence-only education teaches children to avoid morally compromising situations.

Though there are many ways to approach sex education, I believe that the conversation should revolve around education and the valuing of accurate information. How effective is abstinence-only information? What is the role of religion and morality in determining America’s sex education agenda, and is this an appropriate means for communicating effective and accurate information?

In a report released by the Associated Press (MSNBC), studies show that in most cases, a lack of ‘evidence based’ sex education leads to higher rates of unplanned teenage pregnancy and spread of STDs/STIs. It is further stated that “U.S. teen birth rates are higher than in comparable industrialized countries, which may be partly due to greater access to contraception in some countries, the report said.” This same article also discussed the ways in which inaccurate information regarding contraceptives increases the likelihood that individuals will not practice safe sex (e.g. using condoms, etc).

Only time will determine if Obama’s federally regulated switch from abstinence-only to comprehensive sex education will make a difference in the overall pregnancy rates and health of America’s youth. It is, however, important to consider that dispensing accurate, evidence-based information is an important step in educating American youth about sex.


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