Kayla Chandler English 1113- Section 204 Professor McPhate 24 April 2010 Abstinence-Only Programs: Friend or Fiend? We’ve all been through the routine of the abstinence-only sexual education class. The fun of ditching the usual science lecture, slowly killed by high-pitched voice of a curly-headed old woman (usually with a golden, Christian cross hanging gingerly across her chest) rambling on and on about the dangers and horrors of premarital sex. After an hour or so of mildly intimidating slides, signed virginity pledges, and reiteration after reiteration of the “joys” of waiting to have sex until after marriage, we go on our way; some of us are affected, but most of us feel as much catharsis as if we’d just watched the evening news. While abstinence-only programs leave an impression on the conscience and hearts of some teens, offering them a new perspective on sexuality, the programs fail to give valid information, a fair perspective, or options to those teens who choose to be sexually active, a fault that has had dire consequences on our society. Although the idea of using scaretactics and moral questioning to force teenagers into celibacy is an appealing one, it is hardly rational. Abstinence-only programs do not delay the initiation of sexual activity, a choice that many teenagers make regardless of what they’ve been taught (National Sexuality Research Webpage). In fact, regardless of the barrage of abstinence-only programs in the United States since the Clinton Administration, forty-seven percent of teenagers have sexual intercourse by the time the reach the age of seventeen. For this forty-seven percent, abstinence-only programs are violating their basic human right to make their own informed decision about sex, sexuality, and how to practice “it” safely, leaving the fifty percent of teenagers ages 12-17 who want more information about their sexual health (The Kaiser Family Foundation) in the dark. Another tragic flaw in the design of abstinence-only programs is its refusal to give any information whatsoever about preventing pregnancy; instead, it focuses solely on the idea of waiting until marriage to have sex, which puts those teens already involved in sexual activity at a higher risk for unplanned pregnancy. With this refusal to focus on methods of birth control, it’s no wonder the United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world: one-third of girls experience a pregnancy before their twentieth birthday. Even more startling than this statistic is the proven fact that teenagers that are properly educated about birth control are more likely to use it when (and if) they become sexually active (LIVESTRONG. com News). With these hard facts and stunning results of a generation raised on abstinence-only education, where is the action for change? Disregarding the fact that abstinence-only programs fail to provide information about birth control, the programs also fail to provide information about sexually transmitted diseases.
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