Open Education Open Education

Abstinence-Only Sex Education Statistics – Final Nail in the Coffin

In both 2006 and 2008, Republicans took a sound beating, seemingly losing every close election contest. While many linked this phenomena to an unpopular president and his failed administration, it must be said that some perennial Republican party positions are also at the root of the party’s demise.

Funds for Abstinence Education
One such party position involves funding for abstinence education. Our outgoing president made increased funding for abstinence education a centerpiece of his campaign in 2000. During the Bush era funding nearly tripled, from $73 million per year in 2001 to $204 million per year in 2008.

The Republican party also took a similar position in 2008, a position that was certainly reinforced by the choice of Sarah Palin, an abstinence-only proponent for vice-president. That stance appeared as a plank in the platform alongside another party position, support for programs demonstrating a track record of success.

WikipediaThis stance came in spite of growing concerns over the effectiveness of abstinence education programs. We noted in a prior article that “abstinence-only education has been losing steam in recent years.” The web site WebMD Health News indicated that “Seventeen states, including California, have opted out of the programs, choosing to forgo federal funds and instead teach about abstinence along with contraception, including condom use.”

We also referenced an Associated Press article that confirmed the data noting “that participation in the program is down 40 percent over two years.” States opting not to partake in the program meant that nearly half of all funds for such programming remained unclaimed, this despite the fact that most states were experiencing enormous funding shortfalls.

Effectiveness of Program
Previously, when discussing abstinence-only education, most people would reference a recent summary by the Cochrane Collaboration. The Cochrane folks studied 13 abstinence-only education programs – they could not find one that showed an “enduring effect” on teen’s sexual behavior.

In addition to the Cochrane study, another federally funded study of four abstinence-only programs by the Mathematica Policy Research Inc., published in April of 2007, revealed similar results. The research group found that “participants had just as many sexual partners as nonparticipants and had sex at the same median age as nonparticipants.” In other words, abstinence education programs did nothing favorable – the result was the same as if there were no program being offered at all.

Now a third study, this by Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, revealed some of the most troubling data of all. A national longitudinal study of adolescents, specifically 934 high school students, examined one of the factors used as a measurement of success for abstinence-only education programs, the virginity pledge.

Final Nail in the Coffin
In the most recent study, researchers compared teens who had taken the virginity pledge to those who had not taken a pledge. The researchers found results similar to the aforementioned studies.

First, the rate of the teens taking part in sex was the same. Those taking the virginity pledge were just as likely to have intercourse. The only positive, statistically small, was that those taking the pledge had 0.1 fewer sex partners over the five year study than did those who did not take such a pledge.

However, two other findings were most damning. First, those taking the virginity pledge were less likely to protect themselves. Pledge takers were found to be less frequent users of condoms and other forms of birth control.

anqaTherefore, those youngsters who took the virginity pledge were not only just as likely to have intercourse, they ultimately were more likely to take part in sex in an unsafe manner. This has led experts to conclude that the lessons students take from their abstinence-only education programs is a negative and/or faulty view of contraception.

Second, and most importantly, virginity pledges are one of the measurement tools for determining if the abstinence education program is effective. For these federal funded programs, the government has counted pledges as data that the program is effective.

Rosenbaum summarizes the data succinctly, “Abstinence-only education is required to give inaccurate information. Teens are savvy consumers of information and know what they are getting.”

Time to Put an End to Program Funding
Ellen Goodman, a national columnist, offered this assessment of the entire abstinence-only education movement.

“Our investment in abstinence-only may not be a scam on the scale of Bernie Madoff. But this industry has had standards for truth as loose as some mortgage lenders. All in all, abstinence-only education has become emblematic of the rule of ideology over science.”

Heather CorinnaWhile Goodman points to our current president as the source of ideology over science, it is important to recognize that it is not a Bush position, but a Republican position. It is one that may well find its way into the next presidential party platform if certain constituents have their way.

If it does, then people must speak up once again – as Goodman writes: “What the overwhelming majority of protective parents actually want is not a political battle. They want teens to delay sex and to have honest information about sexuality, including contraception.”

Recent data makes it clear – the only way forward towards these objectives is through programs that combine comprehensive sex education lessons.

Flickr photos courtesy of Anqa and Heather Corinna.


1 Celina { 03.09.09 at 11:44 am }

I love comprehensive sex ed.

2 Virginia { 03.15.09 at 8:57 pm }

This article is great! I’d love to reference it in a research paper that I am writing, but I need to know when it was written?

3 Thomas { 03.15.09 at 9:29 pm }

We published the article on January 5th, 2009.

4 theresashenee { 04.02.09 at 11:25 am }

Could you tell me when this paper was written because I would like to use it in a research paper….

5 Amber { 04.19.09 at 1:20 am }

Awesome Article! These statistics should be an eye opener to all!

6 Thomas { 04.22.09 at 1:18 pm }

The author of this piece is site editor Tom Hanson.

7 lucia { 05.01.09 at 5:41 pm }

This article is fantastic! I am a mother who is really concerned about this topic.

8 mike { 05.11.09 at 2:58 am }

what is needed is truth, chastity works.

9 Ashleigh { 05.22.09 at 10:46 am }

Yeah my school is proof it doesn’t work. We have a senior class of 137 and already 8 or 9 parents (not with each other). We barely had any sex ed.

I, on the other hand, was taught exstensively by my parents and am abstaining from sex (Despite being in a great and healthy relationship with the love of my life for 4 years)

Now why can’t people open their eyes and get over what they think is icky? We have made Sex into a bad thing. Oh, and I’m using you as a citation in my paper!

10 Gordon Silver { 06.01.09 at 5:17 pm }

Does anyone know if there is an increase in requests for abortion from teens who pledged abstinence only? Since there are many studies that suggest that teens in these programs do not have less sex than their counterparts, and they have unprotected sex more frequently, I wonder if that also translates into anxiety when they become pregnant accidentally. These teens might then try to get an abortion without telling their parents.

11 Katie { 06.23.09 at 2:52 pm }

There is no such thing as safe sex, so it is dissapointing that those charged with raising up the youth in this nation are giving up on them, saying “you should try and wait, but I don’t really expect you to succeed, so wear a raincoat”. STI’s have reached epidemic levels in this country (the rate of HIV infection in Washington D.C. is as high as that in Africa) and what are you suggesting? Sending mixed messages.

12 tim { 07.07.09 at 3:34 pm }

How are the states that teach abstinence only education doing so much better in having less teen abortions and lowering teen abortions more effectively than the states which have rejected abstinence only education? This isn’t supposed to happen, is it?

13 Sarah { 08.24.09 at 3:27 pm }

hey ashleigh u should contact your local Planned Parenthood if possible because if they are anything like the one i work at they will come to your school and do a sex ed class for free.

14 heather { 09.16.09 at 12:09 am }

From what I have heard, my school gets funded for teaching abstinence- only classes. It is clearly not working due to the multiple pregnant teens currently attending school. The school won’t drop the program because, with the program goes the fund. The government needs to stop funding schools for abstinence only education; It doesn’t work! If anything do some good and educate us. Im sick of seeing my peers being put into life changing situations because of ignorance when it comes to the use of contraceptives!

15 khadija { 09.29.09 at 9:20 pm }

loved the article, i’m going to site it in a paper. anyway at my highschool there were so many teen moms and pregnaunt teens that i got so sick of abstinence only education, i was the one to teach a lot of girls about safe sex in case they decided to have sex. It is funny that most of the girls i talked with had unprotected sex, and i, a virgin, was telling them about the risks involed with it.

16 Danny { 10.08.09 at 7:00 pm }

I know that teens that practice safe sex get STD’s and become pregnant. What are the percentages of teens that are abstinent with STD’s and Pregnancies? Would you put a child on top of a building and give them options. 1.Jump without the mat and see what happens. 2. Jump with a mat and there is a 4% chance your life will be over (teen with child) and a 15% you will be crippled (teen with STD). 3. Dont Jump.

It seems to me you would tell the child not to jump. The problem is, if a child is only told not to jump by there teachers during on 9 weel class are they still going to not jump 1 year, 2 years, 3 years later. Abstinence training works. It is not being taught enough or reinforced at home. Telling a 13 year old to wait, but if you dont want to wait do it this way is rediculus. Children need to be told how special they are, and be giving the rules for not having sex. Then they need to be giving the rule over and over again, and monitored. If a child knows the rules and is being watched they will follow the rule. If they are not be watched they will break the rules.
I am sure there are many high school and college boys as well as some sexual preditors that are very happy you want to tell your children it is OK to have sex as long as you

17 Jasmaine { 10.09.09 at 7:56 pm }

Thank God there are people like you out there who has their head on straight, unlike many of these narrow-minded parents who lack common sense. Sexual intercourse shouldn’t be feared like a an epidemic disease, sex is just that, sex. Yeah, it’s best if we teenagers wait til we’re a little more emotionally mature to drop it like it’s hot, but forcing us to wear a modern form of chastity belts is just going to make us rebel or make us vulnerable to the ways of this world. For the over-protective parents: Sexual education about contraceptive methods such as the pill and condoms DOES NOT mean that it encourages promiscuousity! What it encourages is scientific knowledge and advice on what to do IF they should have sex. So stop assuming that it implies that we will have sex because, contrary to your radical accusations, some of us don’t want to. I know, big shocker there. Yeah, it’s true that sex is on our minds almost 24/7 but most of us don’t always act on our raging hormones as you think. We’re not wild, sex-craving beasts that need to purified, we’re human beings with hormonal urges just like you. We also know what self-control is and how to portray it, just like you. If it’s us you don’t trust, well, learn to get over it.

18 Brianna { 10.21.09 at 1:21 am }

I am glad someone wrote an article about this. I come from a Christian background and have gone through all of those pledge assemblies and purity ring youth groups, and along with that, i have seen how ineffective they are with the girls and boys who have sex before marriage. I have also had a few girls I know ending up pregnant even with this so called “education.” The fact that the government is funding this ineffective program just sickens me. That money should be spent on other effective after school programs, school supplies, a comprehensive sex education (that teaches ACTUAL sex facts and correct contraception use), or the teachers pathetic salaries. The taxpayer’s money is going down the tubes. Thank you for publishing this! I will gladly cite it for my research paper.

19 Kim { 11.08.09 at 5:23 pm }

As a mother of children ready to enter the teen years and having to go through sex education in their school I find this topic interesting. When I was a teen I was taugh both abstience and birth control. Unfortunately I did not follow through with the abstience and fell into the category of “You are going to do it anyway, so be protected.” That was an open door for me to run and do what “felt good”. I think that true absitence education should come from loving parents that want the absolute best for their children, not teachers who are payed to say what the school board tells them to say. If my parents would have explained all the pros and cons of having sex before I was ready I am sure that I would have not fallen into that trap. Too much time is spent on talking about preventing pregnancy and not enough time is spent on preparing young men and women with the emotional devistation that comes with having sex, and then the relationship is over. When I finally meet the love of my life I had to deal with the fact that I did not save myself for him, but he did save himself for me. We need to be talking about those issues as well.

20 InvolvedTeen { 11.09.09 at 1:09 am }

i am a conservative who fully backs “explicit” sex education.
even though i’m a Christian, i’m also a realist; it’s common sense to know that teenagers hardly ever listen. Though I’m saving myself for whoever God has for me, I still believe that both should be taught.

Good article.
using it as reference =]

21 Anonymous poster person { 11.12.09 at 4:54 pm }

WOW this is very descriptive and helpful 😀 I’m also using this for my research paper.


22 Dylan { 11.16.09 at 1:38 pm }

This is a great essay and I’d love to use it in my research paper as well. I have all the necessary citation information for your paper, but do you think you could give me a link to the Rosenbaum study? It would be much appreciated.

23 I am an "idiot" that agrees with abstinence-only. { 11.17.09 at 6:25 pm }

Statistics, schmatistics. The point is not “what is working”…the point is, what is right? What is best for the student? The answer to both questions is: abstinence. You cannot argue against that, and if you do, you are sadly…sadly…sadly misguided.

I am a 16 year old girl. I’m staying abstinent not because some teacher stood in front of me in class and made the students fill out a diagram with the symtoms of pubic lice…or because my teacher put together a powerpoint with a pie chart about how many students who have sex get pregnant of infected…I am abstinent and I will stay abstinent until my wedding night. It’s called moral value, folks. Not “scary” statistics.

Oh, and “Anonymous poster person”… I’m staying “under” my rock, thank you very much. I like it here.

Sex before marriage is bad, simple as that. Abstinence works, simple as that. Therefore it should be taught, simple as that.

24 Carissa { 11.19.09 at 3:24 pm }

Anyone who believes in teaching abstinence only, you’re all a bunch of morons. Honestly, me being a teenager, I know what it is like to have urges…but so do adults. If you all have something against teenagers and how we are rebelious, its funny, because YOU were all teenagers at one point as well. I can guarantee you had urges just like we do. Sex Education is SO IMPORTANT. If someone is going to have sex, let them know about condoms, birth control, I mean don’t you want your kids to be protected? Because of my education at my school when I was in high school, I got on birth control. And if someone wants to teach their children Abstinence, they can do it on their own time at home. Not everyone has the same beliefs as all you people. I just think you and your beliefs should be kept to yourself, because people who do not believe in the same thing as you get defensive. And another thing, don’t try to push your abstinence on teens. They can make their own educated desicions. We are not stupid.

25 Rachel { 11.23.09 at 10:01 am }

loved the article and using it in my thesis, thank you

26 Dan { 11.25.09 at 1:04 pm }

Wow, some of these comments verge on full out retarded (is mentally handicapped more politically correct?). C’mon, HIV rates in Washington as high as Africa? And a 4 year “healthy” relationship w/o sex? And yes, condoms are effective.

27 Kara { 11.29.09 at 11:23 pm }

Dan, it’s clear that since condoms are not 100% effective, that is the same thing as them being INEFFECTIVE. Because the point is to be able to prevent unwanted outcomes 100% of the time. I’m glad to be a virgin at 30 who’s engaged to the man I always wanted. Try not to let your bitterness be that obvious.

28 Emily { 11.29.09 at 11:57 pm }

Ha, go Dan.

Little Miss 16-year-old probably took the abstinence only sex ed program yesterday and therefore has no personal idea as to its effectiveness.

Also, before you spout moral propaganda from your keyboard, use spell check people.

29 To the 16 yr old abstinence lover { 12.01.09 at 12:25 am }

Abstinence only is the best route to head to, but open your eyes. Shit happens. I was taught abstinence only in my school and i there did not know how to protect myself when i was put in a position of sexual intercourse. I was 17 years old and i didn’t know better because of how faulty “abstinence only” is. I contracted HIV before my senior year of high school was over. I had always planned on waiting until i too was married like most girls my age strived for, but on prom night things got a bit out of control and thats when things went down. That night was my first time having sex and that night i contracted the worst sexually transmitted disease possible.

Im now 26 years old and i just finished my masters in criminal justice, but it doesnt matter anymore because of one simple mistake when i was just a teenager. Every day i literally fight for my life. Yet, every day that passes i only get weaker. The doctors say i wont make it to 30.

I hope that perhaps someone will read this and this could save their life. “Abstinence only” is unrealistic, dangerous, and even dishonest.

Please educate yourself.

30 Best Read Ever! { 12.01.09 at 6:00 pm }

Did anyone actually sit through and read all of the other comments? I lol’d at how sheltered/close minded people are sometimes. “Anonymous poster person” obviously has the best post here and the 16 year old abstinence “waiting untill im married” chick had such a horrible comeback post for that.

anyway on to my real post

I did a speech on why abstinence only sex ed is fail and a comprehensive sex ed program is the way to go and it didnt make people run out and buy condoms and immediately have sex which is pretty much what all of the abstinence only sex ed people believe. Even if condoms aren’t 100 percent effective does that mean you shouldn’t learn about them and other contraceptives? Oh, and danny, That was a stupid example you tried to use….since when did jumping off a building relate to sex in any way shape or form??????

31 kelz { 12.07.09 at 1:05 am }

With the whole jumping off of a building thing…. When you tell your child “don’t touch that. ITS HOT” what does he do? 9 times out of 10 he touches it. Most people learn through experience. If you gave a baby a CHOICE and EDUCATED that baby he/she would know the dangers of “jumping.” Telling the baby doesn’t give him a choice, you’re making that choice for him. He doesn’t know what will happen until someone tells him or he does it on his own. If we did teach abstinence only children will be misguided and misled by other misguided and mislead friends. “You can’t get pregnant while on your period”…”oh really sally, lets just have sex then” so would you want your child learning Facts or Fiction? However, for the rest of America, we need not sugar coat the world. We must educate to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

32 Miranda { 12.15.09 at 10:31 am }

I really don’t agree with abstinence. That’s just my opinion though.
You only live once. It’s called a condom, and birth control, there is millions of options for birth control. Don’t be so close minded. Live a little. And if a teenager gets pregnant, it’s their own fault

33 Anonymous Female { 12.19.09 at 10:16 pm }

Thank you for the article. I’m saving it as a reference as well.

My concern about abstinence-only education is it only covers premarital sex. It does not cover the whole concept of sex, including sexuality and issues of sexual assault (including what to do should it happen). Heck, when I was subjected to it in school it didn’t even teach females could orgasm (which has been proven since the 60’s, and I graduated almost ten years ago). No one is saying we shouldn’t or should encourage teen sex; it’s about properly informing teens about what it entails so they can make proper decisions with a better understanding of themselves.

34 Jim { 12.26.09 at 11:48 am }

You have all been driven silly by being rational. Studies? Statistics? Scientifically based conclusions. Experiential observation? Makes no difference. We’re into an age of anti-science/anti-rational thinking.
Our media screams for us to be fearful, and there’s no quicker, better solution for fear than some ignorant, authoritarian, bible-toting bloviator telling the “truth”.
The greatest threat to democracy is the zealot claiming to have THE exclusive franchise on truth.

35 Educated Teen { 12.31.09 at 3:00 pm }

Reading all of the back and forth banter in these comments is ridiculous. Poster: “I am an “idoit”…” I understand where you are coming from, but you sound more like a mother lecturing a group of neighborhood kids. Yes, abstaining from sex is the only 100% effective way to keep from becoming pregnant. However, there are other ways to be “safe”. Call this cliche, but kids will be kids. Teenagers make stupid mistakes everyday, but if that “mistake” is engaging in intercourse before marriage, they should be informed of how to protect themselves as well as they possibly can. Sex happens “simple as that”. But that doesn’t mean that pregnancy and infection aren’t preventable to a certain point. Informing teens of all stages about abstinence AND protection is the only way to get through to everyone.

36 ~HIS~ { 01.07.10 at 7:21 pm }

To the Virgins… CONGRATULATIONS!!! Do not be discouraged by some of the comments. Instead continue to hold your heads high and stay strong. No it is not always easy remaining pure,but it is definitely achievable. I’m a living proof and so are you. For the young lady in the 4 yr. relationship may God bless you and your mate for your faithfulness to Him first and to yourselves. For individuals who may be active, it is never to late to commit to celibacy. This might cause you to lose some friends or acquaintances who may wish to continue to engage in sexual activities, but you will not regret it in the end. Abstinence is the key. ~Purity Rocks~

37 Brittany { 01.14.10 at 8:58 pm }

I pledged abstinence when I was 15 years old. I had a high school boyfriend for 3 years. We never had sex, never touched each other…we just made out. And THAT was even too much for some of my Christian leaders.

Anyway, I was obsessed with sex at the time. With not having it, that is. All of my religious leaders were concerned with me making that pledge and keeping it. But, they never took the time to really explain what I was missing. As I got older and started to learn about sex from people’s honest and completely detailed experiences, I began to realize that I made a promise not to do something without knowing anything about it.

As I got older, I realized that I should never have made that “til marriage do I do it” pledge because I don’t, as an adult, agree that it was necessary for me and my religious beliefs. I also realized that I should never have been asked to make such a life-changing in the first place. I was a child. I had no idea.

I’m not saying teens should go out and have sex, but I do think that they should be given all the information available so that they can consider things for themselves. That means telling them about the virtues of abstinence if you want and also telling them about the virtues of sex. It’s the only fair and respectful way to do it.

38 Hal { 01.24.10 at 6:37 pm }

I think it’s important to distinguish between ‘abstinence’, and ‘abstinence-only-education’. Abstinence serves its function 100% the time, while abstinence-only-education serves its function very poorly. To choose abstinence is fine and good, but to expect 100% to obey is not going to happen.

39 Pete { 01.26.10 at 4:53 pm }

seems like a great justification to end all failed government programs.

40 Jazmin { 01.31.10 at 5:46 pm }

Abstinence as the only method of “safe sex” is not effective. Not from schools that is. I am a witness. I was a pregnant student in high school. So were about 20 other girls of my class alone. Sex ed starts at home. The sad thing is PARENTS are too ashamed to talk about these issues with their teenagers because they don’t know how. I mean, most parents might mention it to their teens, but if it’s a “just wait till your married” talk… Where is the education? When I wanted to have sex.. we were so embarrassed to go to the store to buy condoms, because sex was portrayed as such a bad thing that I didn’t want anyone to know I was doing it.

41 historyshowsus { 02.03.10 at 2:15 pm }

This is a horribly one sided article that only tells half the story. The most recent study that actually compares abstinence training to sex ed training shows that the abstinence training is drastically more effective. Only one third of 6th/7th grade students who received abstinence training started sexual activity within two years. Over half of the same age students who received standard sex ed and contraception training were sexually active for the same time. With the Obama administration cutting funding for abstinence training they are cutting a more effective plan that reduces the number one contributor to poverty in the country. Of course maybe reducing the populaces reliance on the government is not part of the left’s agenda.

42 Anjail { 02.03.10 at 3:15 pm }

I like this article and I completly agree with whats being said. AOE is a waste of time and money. I’m 17 years old and what alot of people fail to realize is that as teens the decision is left up to us. Not the adult. The best thing for them to do is teach us everything they can, and because nobody can make that decision for us they better teach us the truth.

43 Thomas { 02.03.10 at 10:51 pm }

Actually, at the time this article was written it reflected the data thoroughly and accurately. We have written an updated post, based on the results of the previously mentioned study:

44 Sierra { 02.11.10 at 6:52 pm }

If abstinence only programs have been proved NOT to work why is our government still spending millions of dollars on it? At sixteen I have chosen myself to what until marriage but others have’nt it’s about having an open mind schools that pass out condoms or ne other form of contraceptions has seen a decrease in STDs and pregnancy and in some cases comprehensive programs have DECREASED the frequency of sexual intercourse among teens…. now say something to tht.

45 Kayla { 02.26.10 at 4:11 am }

I believe the main point, and most important point of a comprehensive sex ed class is to TEACH the students about sex, the consequences, safe sex methods and even how to put on a condom properly. Some teens don’t believe in waiting, and thats alright, its their belief. Abstinence only teachs DON’T have sex until after marriage, which may or may not decrease or inscrease the rates of sex. However, whats more important is that the teens don’t get STDs, or STIs and don’t get pregnant. Yes, it’s true the best way to prevent those things in abstinence, but for those that don’t want to, they need to know how to protect themselves. Therefore a comprehensive sex ed class is more effective.

46 Karen DeLeon { 03.05.10 at 1:02 am }

From the comments I have read, people are very much one sided and sometimes very irrational when it comes to their arguements. In my opinion, all options should be taught at school because it’s the school’s JOB to educate. By leaving out certain details we are only hindering our children’s ability to be fully aware of sex and the ALL the options they have. The first mistake, in my opinion was Margreat Sanger’s invention of the contraception. That encouraged teens to have sex and see sex as a pleasurable activity instead of its real purpose: reproduction. In a study conducted many years back, from the time contraceptives were invented to 1990, the sexual activity has sky rocketed. Therefore, there is not a lot we can do about this contraceptive problem anymore. The only solution we have is to make the students fully aware of it’s usage. In fact, I propose an idea on the community. The teachers should have the parent’s consent whether or not they can teach the children about contraceptives just like in Junior High, the parent’s had to sign a paper to allow their children to learn about sex in general. This way a majority of parents and teens can be pleased. Additionally, I’d like to make a statement to Kelz who is misinformed. In abstience programs,they don’t blindfoldedly tell the kids to “not do it” that would be an even BIGGER waste of money. They tell them not to do it and WHY so the children know what they are getting into. They are not touching the stove hot without realizing they might get burned. (as you so kindly put it) So in conclusion, I don’t believe in abstience ONLY programs because that woulfd take us back to the old times where evolution was not allowed to be taught in school, and many of us were uneducated in that aspect. We should be educated BUT with the permission of the guardians

47 Susie { 03.19.10 at 10:13 pm }

I was taught abstinence only but also taught of the risks of sex before marriage. It worked for me and all of my siblings so far, so I am all for it. When taught, one does need to know all the facts about how emotionally, and physically one can be hurt by having sex before marriage. Also, the risk of pregnancy is a good topic to talk about too. I have many friends who were trying not to get pregnant and yet they did (married mostly). This is always a risk when having sex and if someone is mature enough to understand this, they are mature enough to wait for sex with the one that will wait for them also. I think that young people need to hear from people like me who have a wonderful sex life with my husband especially because we waited for each other. It is the most romantic thing and also the smartest thing to do. I never have to worry if he is comparing me to someone else or the other way around. If we encourage young people and let them know that the best things in life are worth waiting for, the smart, deserving, and teachable people will make good decisions. I think the parents in young people’s lives need to bring their children up teaching them things like this.

48 Shelby Noble { 03.25.10 at 10:39 am }

I do not believe in abstinence classes. People are legal to be sexually active at the age of 16, and the government is contradicting themselves when they make teens pledge to be sex-free until marriage. We are taught how to drive a car, and how to apply for college but we’re not allowed to learn how to have sex safely? Try making sense of that, and it’s likely you’ll fall short. Abstinence teaching is a big waste of time.

49 Ryan { 04.03.10 at 9:55 pm }

When are public schools going to include texting as part of the driver’s ed. course? After all, their going to text and drive anyway, might as well teach ’em how to do it safely. Telling them to stop texting while driving, because it’s dangerous, is foolish, or asking them to wait until the car is parked before texting, naive; their texting urges are uncontrollable, they’re only kids.

50 mary { 04.09.10 at 12:15 am }

It is unfortunate that we as a society have to rely on our government for everything. Alot of the parents’ responsibilities have shifted to the government. Sex education should be taught at home and not in the school. Parents need to be adults and speak with their children about this subject. Thus, the money used for abstinence, or comprehensive sex education or whatever the name of the sex program is, could be put to better used elsewhere. If we as a society still held on to old fashion values, in this case, waiting to have sex unti marriage, there would not be so many STD’s! For those promiscuous people out there, which seems to be the majority of Americans, stop , you are the reason for the STD’s!

51 amy { 04.13.10 at 2:35 pm }

These comments are interesting and while I am for abstinence (simply because God said it was best and I believe him) I agree that both sides should be taught. There will be consequences for what we choose to do, but God gave us that choice, so I don’t condemn someone who does not believe how I do. Mostly, we hurt ourselves and we may never know what we are missing when we insist on doing things our way.

52 Jon { 04.21.10 at 12:12 am }

Very good article. It is sad to see that the Democrats have joined the Republicans on this issue. I was shocked that they restored the funding for this terrible program as part of the Health Care Bill.

53 Anonymous { 04.22.10 at 3:35 pm }

Texting fool:
Texting and driving is NEVER safe. Sex is a hormone driven natural act. Texting while driving is stupid. Can you see the difference between these two things?

I don’t get why parents should disapprove of schools giving out condoms. Walmart will give your kids condoms too, for $3. At least this lets the prudish kids get over their embarassment issues and still be protected.

Kids need sex education though because they don’t know ANYTHING. They don’t even know the contraception options! “A condom? What’s that?” They don’t know what an STD is! Seriously, the same people telling you that you should be abstinent so you don’t get AIDS are the same people telling you that AIDS is a gay disease! You spread that rumor and you wonder why a young heterosexual couple would think they have nothing to worry about!

54 kaylnn and aliyson { 04.29.10 at 3:05 pm }

as young teenagers we believe that sex ed is a good thing.
it is important and teaches the importace of being virgins until honeymoon time.. (; it does not encourage sex. nor does it scare you away from it. our friends and us have daily discussions about sex and kids are going to do what they want no matter what teachers or parents say.. im sorry but its true. sex is a beautiful thing not something dispicable and nasty.. society has made it that way. which very sorry. and sadens me..

55 EDUCATE our youth { 05.20.10 at 10:18 am }

As a young, new sex ed. teacher in a school that has a comprehensive (yet still very limited sex ed program), its amazing to me how many peoples religious views are still getting in the way of educating children. OBVIOUSLY, abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and STI’s, however teaching abstinence is teaching a lifestyle. It should not be about waiting until some sacremental vow you take in front of god, It should be about how abstinent lifestyles promote better HEALTH in all three aspects (Physical, Social, and Emotional), since it is a HEALTH class. But in order to call it SEX EDUCATION, we should be informing students about all aspects of sexuality and what a sexual lifestyle entails. I don’t beleive in using scare tactics to EDUCATE students about their sexuality. It shouldn’t be something that is feared, but rather embraced because its a part of life. When a 5th grader (during the puberty lesson) asks me what sex is, i as the teacher shouldn’t feel limited in what i’m able to talk about especially when it comes down to basic human anatomy. You don’t teach a kid how to ride a bike without talking about helmets, and the right side of the road to ride on. At the same time you stress how dangerous riding in the middle of the road is. Its education, simple. Witholding valuable information because we’re scared it might cause kids to go buck wild, would mean that we’re not doing our job, simply educating.

56 Lisa { 06.15.10 at 11:57 am }

I have read all these comments, and I suppose my response is– to each their own. I’m living proof that abstinence only is not comprehensive enough and ineffective. I applaud those strong enough to wait, my own husbad did and that is wonderful. For the teenagers posting on here that have chosen abstenince, good luck, for as you get older it will be a greater challenge to remain that way.
EDUCATE our youth- amen, you have said it all. Its about doing our jobs, not only just teachers and schools, but as parents. Educating the children means teaching them all aspects of the subject, health, emotion, and social areas. I fully agree with you that the schools and teachers shouldn’t be so limited in educating the youth, but I wish more parents too would get on the bandwagon. It is our responsibility to protect our children and instill in them the tools they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

57 Dave H { 06.18.10 at 6:35 pm }

I wonder how many hours Sarah Palin spent with Bristol teaching abstinence, and you’d have to agree with me that in the end it didn’t matter, did it?
Education is just that, educating about human anatomy, and showing cause and effect. Having sex with no protection is playing Russian Roulette. This doesn’t mean having sex before marriage is OK or not. The Religious Right must think that all teachers educating all forms must be standing there saying how great sex is and showing porn movies every week.
Responding to Danny (17th quote), telling your child not to jump at 9 works only if (1) they’re scared getting in trouble; (2) they don’t understand the pain of jumping. Eventually, they’ll jump, because kids don’t have the mental fortitude to not do something when they really really want to. Heck, ADULTS are the same way.
The facts don’t lie. What drives me batty is there have been MULTIPLE studies with the same results, and we get people making excuses. Oh, the program was new. Oh, it’s not being reinforced enough. OK, so let the government spend over $200 million a year of our tax dollars. It’s insanity to keep doing the same thing and expect different results, but don’t tell the Republicans that.

58 RoseMom { 08.19.10 at 7:45 am }

Abstinence and Sex ed are not mutually exclusive. Teach them both, because each by themselves isn’t working. And I know plenty of mothers in committed relationships who live valued lives who would be willing to teach abstinence without a budget!

59 Tiffany { 09.21.10 at 8:58 am }

“theres nothing wrong with sex, its just the way you handle it”

60 VS { 09.23.10 at 9:21 pm }

Teen pregnancy can be easily fought with contraception. A combination of both the birth control pill and the condom has a .002% chance of failure. STDs are a bit harder to fight.

61 name is no more important than choice { 10.10.10 at 6:17 pm }

Reading and understanding. Perspective, oppinion, experience. What has everyone gone through? What is everyones real concern? Why do people care?

What i did was make the promise to not have sex before marriage at a very young age because my mom was honest with me at a young age about why i should wait with all the education of comprehensive sex education&religion. But when i looked at my mothers life i realize that marriage is just a title that people depend on. My mother got married to my father at age 20, two days after they met. three months later she was pregnant with me. I didnt know any of this till i was older but ill never really forget that information. She waited till marriage to have sex but in a reckless pursuit of needing codependency she married him. And in the end it didnt work out with them. So back to me, i believe in marriage, but with time. As for sex, i found the right person, weve been together for five wonderful years. And yes, weve had sex. But he has been my one and only partner and we are engaged.

As for actual education on the matter- Everything needs to be taught. Personal experiences, bad experiences, safe sex, stds,whatever relates. Educate our youth- let them make there own descesions. There going to anyway no matter what.

I believe the way we value sex is determind with how we value ourselves and if we educate ourselves then the descision will be easier. We should be able to pridefully choose with no regrets.

62 Caitlin { 01.21.11 at 2:29 am }

People are getting so angry at each other when I think we are all in the same boat. We both don’t want sex before marriage to these teens that truly dont know what they’re doing. I agree that it should be abstinence only and that is so much of what is right. I ALSO know that kids these days aren’t all conservative Christians, and knowing this they will most likely have sex in their teen years. It would be much wiser (using our HISTORY SO IT DOES NOT REPEAT ITSELF) to teach students what to do to prevent abortions (most people on this page will agree is an extremely horrible thing). I guess it all comes down to, do you want to continue in your stubborn ways (however justified) and just want to keep their virgnity in tact. Or rather, would you like to save lives just by drilling it to them to use a condom or birth-control.

That is not to say that the two can not go hand in hand, show your reluctance to having sex and saying abstinence is the way to go but if they are going to slip up or whatever else, use a condom.

Nobody here is a “moron” “idiot” or “under a rock”. We are all on the same issue just going around the circle a different way.

63 Holly { 03.12.11 at 12:17 pm }

To the “Idiot” who agrees with abstinence only, I want to congratulate you for standing up for what you believe in. I, myself, am an “18 year old virgin” because I am also waiting until marriage. Everyone who believes that premarital sex is okay, you’ve lost the original purpose of sex in the first place. When some of you become a parent, do you want your daughter to be sexually active? Most likely not, and if you do, I am concerned for you.
Every time you give your body sexually to someone you lose a little piece of yourself that you can never get back. It’s about going to the alter on the day you and your husband/wife will marry and being able to say, yes, I can fully give myself to you, and no, there are no pieces floating around with five (most likely more) different men. Take a rose for instance. Every time you sleep with someone a petal falls off and by the time you marry, most likely, your left standing with only a stem. When I go to the alter, I want to be able to stand in front of my husband with a beautiful rose without missing any petals.
How can you “anti-abstinence” people sit there and argue about something that society has made acceptable? You all sound ignorant. Sorry.

64 Anonymous { 04.14.11 at 6:33 am }

Who is the publishing company?

65 Lady Jaade { 04.15.11 at 1:21 pm }

I am doing a persuasive speech in one of my classes. I will be doing it on abstinence. I agree with abstinence being taught in school; however I also can see this from the other side. If you just tell someone not to do something they are more likely to do it, I say teach abstinence as a main point but let the students know what will come if they choose to have sex. Incurage them to make their own choices but make sure they have all the information needed to make the right choice for them. I wish I hadn’t had sex for the first time but when I think about it I learned a lot about myself. I don’t think I would change anything but I know when it comes to the children I will have, I want them to feel confortable in makeing the choose that best suits them.

66 Moral Values { 05.10.11 at 6:51 am }

Big up for those who are standing up for moral values- we are many who have chosen to uphold and preserve the moral standards in a decaying world and those who have failed in abstinence you should instead keep quiet and admit you failed instead of discouraging others. The truth is those who can’t say no to sex can’t also say no in many other things- it is a manifestation of internal corruption in values and lack of self control.

Man is not a beast who is driven by hormones and feelings but a principled being with capacity to restrain himself and say no not only to sex before marriage but also unfaithfulness in marriage and other vices that make the society rot and stink.

For the sake of the generations behind me, i stand for purity till marriage and faithfulness in marriage and i don’t care even if the rest of the world disagrees with me after all am not a photocopy of another but an original one.

I will remain pure till marriage and teach my children to walk in my ways!

67 Moral Values { 05.10.11 at 7:13 am }

by the way Pioneers are always very few! majority want to hang out with the crowd and flow along with the popular opinion. Am not among the majority, am a Pioneer and i believe abstinence works when you put necessary structures in your life and most importantly let God who created you be the absolute truth and every man a liar because it is working for me and am now a 26 years old man joyfully abstaining. The path that my friends took of condoms and contraceptives has only led them to regrets, guilt and consequences they can’t reverse and they will have to endure for the rest of their lives. In life you can choose your actions/behaviors but you don’t choose the consequences and the principles is you reap what you sow.

Science and statistics ( which are mostly twisted to fit the interests one who funded the research and trumpeted by the media who are hungry for profits ) can say what they want but i was created by God in His likeness and image NOT science- simple! America society is going down because people choose to live like animals but they forgot they can’t choose the consequences.

My father and mother did not wait till marriage but i made a decision not to follow their path and the course of history would change with me and am grateful God’s grace has enabled me stand despite the strong opposition and most of my lady friends (from whom among one of them will be my wife) we share the same values and strongly abide in them.

Let’s not trade our future, some treasures once lost are gone forever.

68 Sam { 05.12.11 at 8:38 pm }

I think the reason abstinence only education fails is because it tries to tell people what to do rather than enable them to make informed decisions. I believe that I had sex young BECAUSE of two reasons: my older sisters made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal, and the abstinence education I received was so flawed that sadly I disregarded any GOOD information in in. For example, the program at my school had a man talk to us in 8th grade who said that his first child was born without part of its brain because he and his wife had had premarital sex……this makes NO sense, your BODY doesn’t know if it’s married or not!!! That type of stupidity eclipsed any good in the program. Sex Ed programs should teach teens how to know themselves, how to set boundaries that THEY are comfortable with, how to communicate about sex with a prospective partner, how to be assertive, and how to protect themselves. Now, I am in a great relationship where we have both been tested for STI’s, we use two forms of birth control, and we always communicate and respect each other. This is the first guy who hasn’t tried to coerce me into sex and has no problem letting me know when he’s not in the mood, leaving me free to turn down sex also. Sex Ed should be about RESPECT not SHAME!

69 Sherry { 05.19.11 at 3:06 pm }

Trying to decide whether to believe this or not.

70 Breanne { 05.23.11 at 12:00 am }

I think absinence_only is wrong. I am a Bible thumper Christian or whatever you want to call me and I believe in waiting till marriage, but abstinence -only doesnt work. It should be taught as the focal point but not the only point. Safe sex is important I say if your going to give yourself to someone physically you should AT LEAST be smart about it. But again I don’t think sex before marriage is ok. But I do like the article, very informational.

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