The Harmful Inaccuracies Of Abstinence-Only Education

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The Harmful Inaccuracies of Abstinence-Only Education For many reasons, including both moral and financial, “Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage” sexual education programs are taught all across America. These are programs that emphasize abstaining from sex until marriage, and generally tell students that this is the most effective way to avoid pregnancy and diseases. These programs often do not teach about other forms of contraception, with the belief that abstinence should be enough. Unfortunately, these programs are still taught despite the mounting evidence showing that not only are they ineffective, but actively harmful to the student’s health. This evidence includes high rates of teen pregnancy and STDs across America, cases of misinformation …show more content…
Human trafficking victim and sexual assault prevention advocate Elizabeth Smart says, when asked why she didn’t try to run away from her captors when she had the opportunity, that the lessons taught in Abstinence-Only programs taught at her school made her feel so ashamed about herself that she felt worthless (Culp-Ressler). In her retelling of her situation, she said that her teacher compared sex to chewing gum, and after she was assaulted she thought to herself “I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away” and after that moment began to feel as though even if she called out for help and even if she was rescued her life would “still have no value” (Culp-Ressler, “Elizabeth Smart: Abstinence Education”). Shame-based messages like the one taught to smart are clearly harmful, and make people feel afraid to discuss issues involving sexual health or possible assault. Frequently, the shame based attitude prevalent in America leads to children feeling too afraid to approach someone when they are sexually abused, and the abuse continues. An effective way to combat this would be to begin teaching people to be unashamed of their bodies, without having to relate the lesson to sex at all. This has proven to be effective after programs in Chicago, dubbed “kindergarten sex ed” programs, began teaching children about their anatomy and …show more content…
In one study of different programs across America, states that required abstinence-only programs to be taught had teen pregnancy rates up to 33% higher than rates in states whose laws do not mention abstinence at all (Stanger-Hall 5). These rates remain high even after factoring in racial, religious, and socio-economic differences between communities. Unfortunately, teen pregnancy rates in America are considerably higher than other first world countries even in states that allow comprehensive sex education and even compared to countries with similar demographics (Stanger-Hall 9). This is possibly because even in states that allow it, comprehensive sex education is not required to be taught in most schools, and sex education is not required to be taught at all in 30 states (Stanger-Hall 9). In addition to this, 25% of teachers report being specifically instructed not to teach about contraception at all, or to teach abstinence as the only form of contraception, despite 90% reporting that they thought it should be taught (Starkman and Rajani 315). Unsurprisingly, in a country where two thirds of young adults are sexually active, this often contributes to higher rates of STDs among young adults (Starkman and Rajani 315). A lack of education about contraception or worse, treating contraception as useless and even

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