For a country that prides itself on moral integrity and values, it seems ironic that the U.S. has a higher rate of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases than any other developed country in the world.
People blame the media, advertisers, and a myriad of other sources as the reason behind our sex-obsessed culture. But perhaps it is what we aren’t learning that is causing the problem.
In dozens of recent studies conducted throughout the last decade, nearly every single one concluded that abstinence-only sex education has not only failed, but has in fact mislead teens and contributed to an increase in teen pregnancy and STDs. The American Psychological Association conducted a study in 2005 that found comprehensive sex education to be more effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies and STDs.
Committee chairwoman for the APA’s study and psychologist Maureen Lyon, Ph.D., said, “Both comprehensive sex education and abstinence only programs delay the onset of sexual activity. However, only comprehensive sex education is effective in protecting adolescents from pregnancy and sexually transmitted illnesses at first intercourse and during later sexual activity.
In contrast, scientifically sound studies of abstinence only programs show an unintended consequence of unprotected sex at first intercourse and during later sexual activity.”
According to a 2002 study by Chris Collins, M.P.P. Priya Alagiri, J.D. and Todd Summers for the AIDS Policy Research Center & Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences recommended eliminating congressional, federal, state and local requirements that public funds be used for abstinence-only sex education.
What neither side disputes is the fact that abstinence is the only 100-percent effective way to avoid unplanned pregnancies and STDs. However, with the majority of high school students losing their virginity by their senior year, there is an urgent need for practicality in sex education.