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Abstinence-Only Education: Counterproductive and Harmful

Summer 2008

Editorial: Abstinence-Only Education:  Counterproductive and HarmfulAbstinence-only-until-marriage programs are not only a monumental waste of $300 million a year in taxpayer dollars, they are actually counterproductive and harmful to America's young people.

While most parents want their children to delay sexual activity, the reality is that 47% of high-schoolers are sexually active. Four million young people in the U.S. contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) each year. Teen pregnancy rose in 2006 by 3%, the first increase since the early 1990s. Clearly we are failing to promote sexual health among young people.

Research has found that young people taking "virginity pledges" were one-third less likely to use contraception when they did become sexually active than those who had not pledged. Research has also found that in communities with more virginity pledgers, overall STD rates were significantly higher than in other settings.

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Visit ACRIA's website and GMHC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
See Also
Read More Articles in the Summer 2008 Issue of Thrive
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
Abstinence Programs

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Elise Bell (Texas) Wed., May. 26, 2010 at 6:06 pm UTC
I recently wrote a book for teens called "You Need To Know" I believe that if the parents won't teach them it's time for teens to educate themselves.

You can sample/buy/ read the book here:
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Comment by: jackie Wed., Jul. 30, 2008 at 11:20 am UTC
i believe abstinence is for every body whether you are straight, gay, bisexual, or transgender. they will all one day want to be with,or have that special person in their life. when you have a past loaded with relationships you bring all those with you. abstinence is a choice, but if young people don't have all information then they're lacking, i think we should give them all the information even if they don't choose to be abstinent-till-marriage
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Comment by: Steve Skete Thu., Jul. 24, 2008 at 10:04 pm UTC
I appreciate your article, but I have a few observations.

You quoted statistics such as: "47% of high-schoolers are sexually active". "Four million young people in the U.S. contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) each year". "Teen pregnancy rose in 2006 by 3%, the first increase since the early 1990s". You did not however cite your source(s).

You also said "research has found...and research has also found" without citing where the research was found.

Then you gave examples of "abstinence-only curricula" which promote "outdated and sexist gender stereotypes, antigay bias, and ignorance about HIV". Again it would have been helpful to me if you had made the sources of these examples more explicit.

I could go on, because throughout your article information was given with no backup sources. I cannot tell you, of course, how to write your article, (or mayb4e your space was limited), but one helpful thing that some often do is to clearly credit their sources at the bottom of an article so interested persons like myself can read quoted statements in their context.

I hope you are not offended by my asking for your sources. This does not mean that I do not trust you. It is that I am simply one of those persons who do not believe everything I read, and one who likes to check things for myself.
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