So there is this annoying little trend among the more religious/conservative types that says teaching abstinence-only in sex education classes is a good idea. (When I say abstinence-only sex education I mean wait to have sex until marriage) So where do they get the notion that we should only teach abstinence? Well in most cases it is from the Bible. The notion stems first from 1st Corinthians 6:9-11 which states:
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
When the ‘sexually immoral’ was being mention, it either meant adultery, fornication, perversions or immorality in the mind but what we are focusing on is fornication which is defined as:
voluntary sexual intercourse between persons not married to each other
So if they were to teach safe sex practices that would be saying it’s okay to have sex before you are married which blatantly goes against their belief system and thus they take that out of the curriculum all together. But now that we know a brief history let’s move on.
There are a few reason why this is stupid and I plan to point them out.
Number one being the most obvious, as animals, our natural instinct is to prolong our species by having sex. This primary aspect is ignored by the proponents of such forms of sex education. The assumption that, if we teach kids not to have sex they will listen, is insane. According to A Statistical Portrait of Adolescent Sex, Contraception, and Childbearing, National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Washington, DC, 1998;
Nationally, one-quarter of 15 year old females and less than 30% of 15 year old males have had sex, compared with 66% of 18 year old females, and 68% of 18 year old males who have had sexual intercourse.
That alone shows that teens are having sex and assuming they aren’t is being willfully ignorant.
Now on to the next point I want to make which is about the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education and the negative effects of it. In an April 2007 study by the Mathematica Policy Research Inc. on behalf of the US department of Health and Human Services1 it was found that
a) there was no evidence that abstinence-only until marraige programs increased the rates of abstinence
b) students is said programs had a similar age of first sex than those who were not
Now you might be saying “Hey Peter, maybe the STD rates went down. No. In July 2007 a study by the British Medical Journal showed that the rates of pregnancy and STDs by students in said programs were unaffected. A study on virginity pledges showed that they did delay the time of first sexual intercourse……..for 18 months but according to that same study, the people signing the pledge were 1/3 less likely to use contraception when they did have sex. Also, in communities where over 20% of young adults sign virginity pledges, STD rates were 8.9% compared to the 5.5% in other communities. I could go on and on but I shall not. If you want to read more stuff about this click the links in the footnotes.
So as we can see, the proponents of abstinence-only sex education fail to see that teens will have sex regardless of what you do and that their programs don’t deter people from having sex, it only makes it so when they do, they don’t use contraception and thus STDs and pregnancies have either the same rates or higher rates than those who have real sex education programs.
Statistics on teens
Studies on abstinence-only sex education programs