Abstinence or Contraceptive Sex Education Programs?

Kelly Glesinger Abstinence or Contraceptive Sex Education Programs? May 30, 2008 George, A. (2005, March 5). Going All the Way. New Scientist. Accessed via: http://elibrary. bigchalk. com Normally all sex education programs include information about contraceptives. But now there are many types of programs. A new program is one that strongly supports the theory, “just say no”. It includes urging virginity pledges and only stating the failure rates of condoms and other contraceptives. Many of these programs take the failure rate out of context.

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They overemphasize the statistics and sometimes even use false data to help sway the student’s minds about contraceptives. The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rates and the rates of sexually transmitted diseases have almost doubled or tripled in the past decade. Fifty-sixty percent of teens have lost their virginity by the age of seventeen. The US has become worried about this issue and has finally realized that some people are going to have sex, so they may as well show them how to be safe about it. They have taken notice to a program that the Netherlands has been successful with.

The Netherlands has developed a sex education program that is more obvious and is more open about sex. Resulting in less casual sex and the average age for the losing their virginity among teens is much higher. Another type of sex education program is the “abstinence-plus” program. In this program they only mention contraceptives and try not to talk much about them. They mainly stick with the abstinence only policy and strongly urge teens to pledge to virginity. However, some ease up on the guidelines and have an abstinence only policy till they are in a long term committed relationship.

Many of these programs have had research done and the results are pretty much devastating. Three of the abstinence-only programs have had no effect on the teen pregnancy rates or on their sexual behaviors at all. Another study on a virgin pledge seemed slightly successful but not enough. The students had waited for about an average of eighteen months later than those who had not pledged and were with fewer people. But the students also had earlier marriage rates. However, six years later the same pledgers were surveyed again and had the same STD rate as those students who had not taken the pledge.

The researcher concluded that this was because the people who pledged were unprepared for sex. This is the overall problem with the abstinence-only education programs. The students who do take the pledge and fulfill the pledge are highly praised but what about the students who don’t? The students who take the pledge but end up having sex are at an extremely high risk of pregnancy or of contracting an STD because they were never taught the ways to use contraceptives. A program has arisen to be highly successful. It mentions the choice of abstinence but a majority of the time is spent on discussing contraceptives.

The study later showed that the program students had been half as likely to become pregnant as those who hadn’t received the program. The students were more likely to successfully use condoms and waited longer before having sex. The studies have shown that the sexual education programs that were more interactive and were more personalized were much more successful. People closer to the student’s age also had a higher success rate. There is not one program that is at a higher positive outcome than another to make that the only program presented.

My reaction: I never even knew that there were different types of sexual education programs. When I was in high school we never took a sex ed class. We had a two hour presentation in possibly the ninth grade with the whole school. The presenter was our principal and she showed statistics of STD rates and teen pregnancy rates. She also had gruesome photos of people with STDs. Our principal discussed all the contraceptives and how they are supposed to be used and why. And that was it. That was the presentation. We never even got the infamous condom on the banana demonstration.

To this day I have never thought about the fact that the importance of a program had been obviously missed. I, being almost twenty, do not know any virgins over the age of sixteen except one person who is also my best friend. She doesn’t really have a reason why. She just says she hasn’t had that “perfect” situation yet and doesn’t feel the need to reach out for it yet. I also only know one person who has had an STD and received it from a person who didn’t know they had received it from someone who didn’t know they had it and so on.

I know only one person who has been through a teen pregnancy and she is also a best friend. She was in a committed four year relationship. She successfully had her little girl and is still presently with the father. All of these people and practically every other friend I have know about contraceptives, STDs and teen pregnancy in great detail. Even after never having received an “excellent” sexual education program, we all turned out okay…so far. I think that every child should have the right to n equal sex education course.

I don’t think any child should be subject to having only received an abstinence-only program or a contraceptives only program. I think all the aspects and sexual options should be made available to everyone. So that everyone can make their own decision on what is best for them. I really liked how in this article they always went back to answer that there is no obvious solution to this problem. None of the programs have that high of a success rate over another to start using only that program. They stated the benefits and downfalls to each program but never choose one that was the best.

Discussion Questions: Which program do you think is best? I think as stated previously they should stick with the program that includes information about all the options. I don’t think a child should be subject to not being informed about options such as contraceptives because their presenter, teacher or whomever doesn’t believe in sex before marriage. I think each child should be able to make the decision on their own. Do you think that having studies done on control groups giving only certain children each program is worth the effects it may have on the child for future generations?

I think that the effects of not giving each child information about every option possible could never be worth the devastating possible outcomes. I think that each child should always be given every program and we should never choose one over another whether that program has been proven successful or not. I would be totally against leaving children out of a program because they were randomly selected to be. That child would be at too high of a risk of the negative outcomes even for the benefit of future generations.

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