Watch this animation about a campaign in China to do just that: Ten Square Metres of Love.
The vast majority of Americans support abstinence from sexual activity for school-age children, especially younger adolescents. Yet, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, currently being taught in many schools, are at odds with what most Americans want schools to teach.
The public supports a broad sex education curriculum that stresses abstinence as the best way to avoid unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections STIs but that also conveys complete and medically accurate information about contraception and condoms. Federally funded abstinence-only programs must adhere to a stringent eight-point definition of education.
Program guidelines explicitly prohibit any discussion of contraceptives, except for failure rates. This limitation is particularly problematic for sexually experienced adolescents, a group with reproductive health needs distinctly different from the needs of sexually inexperienced youth.
By emphasizing marriage as the expected standard, programs also exclude gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth and ignore their needs. A few of the reasons — practical, public health, and ethical — for questioning public investments in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are outlined below.
The study concluded that two of the curricula were accurate but that 11 others, used by 69 organizations in 25 states, blurred religion and science, and contained unproven claims and subjective conclusions or outright falsehoods regarding the effectiveness of contraceptives, gender traits, and when life begins.
Among the misconceptions and outright falsehoods: A day-old fetus is a "thinking person. Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse.
Women who have an abortion "are more prone to suicide.
Such obligations extend to state-supported health education and health care services. Health care providers and health educators have ethical obligations to provide accurate health information.
Patients and students have a right to receive the most accurate and complete information — information that will allow young people to achieve good health outcomes.
Current federal abstinence laws and guidelines are ethically problematic because they limit the information — including accurate information about contraception and safer sex — available to young people. There is no evidence to date that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs bring about the desired long-term behavioral outcomes at which they aim — outcomes such as delays in sexual activity and reductions in unintended pregnancies and STIs.
Although abstinence-only-until-marriage programs have the enthusiastic backing of some right-wing constituencies, the congressionally mandated, long-term evaluation of four highly touted abstinence-only programs finally released in April does not support continued funding.
Programs did not achieve later sexual initiation or lower rates of pregnancy or STIs. By the end of the study, abstinence-only participants had their first sexual encounter at the same average age as the control group. In both the control group and study group, only 23 percent reported always using a condom when having sex.
Although there is no one silver bullet, effective programs include curriculum-based sex education that includes information about both abstinence and contraceptive use. Have a narrow focus and a clear message that not having sex or that using contraception consistently and carefully is the right thing to do; Last more than few weeks; Address peer pressure; Teach communication skills; Reflect the age, sexual experience, and culture of young people in the program.
According to a poll, conducted in by the Kaiser Family Foundation, National Public Radio, and Harvard University, only 15 percent of Americans believe that schools should only teach abstinence from sexual intercourse and should not provide information on condoms and other contraception.
Thirty-six percent of those polled believed that abstinence is not the most important thing, and that sex education should focus on teaching teens how to make responsible decisions about sex. This illogical promotion and funding crowds out effective approaches to health education and related services.
In23 percent of sex education teachers in secondary schools taught abstinence as the only way to prevent pregnancy and STIs, compared with only two percent who had done so in Between andthe proportion of adolescents who had received any formal instruction about methods of birth control declined significantly from 81 percent to 66 percent of males and from 87 percent to 70 percent for females.
Byone-third of adolescents of each gender had not received any instruction about birth control methods. The Bush administration has integrated abstinence promotion into Title X family planning as well as into domestic HIV prevention programs.
At publication date at least 33 percent of U. The impetus for abstinence education came from evangelical born-again Christians who tend to have very different views from other Americans about sex and sexuality.
More than twice as many evangelicals 49 percent vs.
HHS also agreed that any future funding would be contingent on compliance with federal law that prohibits the use of federal funds to support religious activities. This agreement remains in effect until September 30, As a result, recipients of federal abstinence-only funds as well as the teachers who provide federally funded health education to their students operate under a gag order that censors the communication of vital sexual health information.
Comprehensive sexuality education is supported by a broad range of health and education professionals. Over national organizations support comprehensive sex education.
Common sense as well as available research, suggests that in the real world, it can and does fail routinely — as evidenced by the staggering proportion 95 percent of Americans who have had premarital sex. Researchers found that over 60 percent had broken their vow to remain abstinent until marriage.
The study also found that teens who took virginity pledges begin engaging in vaginal intercourse later than non-pledging teens, but that pledgers were more likely to engage in oral or anal sex than non-pledging virgin teens and less likely to use condoms once they become sexually active.
The study found that pledgers were much less likely than non-pledgers to use contraception the first time they had sex and also were less likely than other teens to have undergone STI testing and to know their STI status.Scientific American is the essential guide to the most awe-inspiring advances in science and technology, explaining how they change our .
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