Comprehensive Sex Education vs. Abstinence Only Education


Comprehensive Sex Education or Abstinence Only Education? Which is the best way to teach adolescents about sex?
There are a lot of strong opinions on both sides of the debate.

Comprehensive sex education is just that-comprehensive. It includes safer sex education, discussion and teaching about birth control, condoms, pregnancy options, intimacy and romantic relationships between all genders. Depending on the curriculum you may find skill building exercises, self esteem and body image lesson plans, sexual assault and how alcohol and drugs can influence sexual decision making. Abstinence is also taught as part of comprehensive sex education. Which comes as a surprise to a lot of people. There is a stereotype that teaching comprehensive or safer sex education leaves abstinence at the curb. That is not true. Comprehensive and safer sex education seeks to include all topics and is supportive of abstinence as an appropriate practice for adolescents.

Abstinence only education is just that. Abstinence only. There is no discussion of condoms, birth control, or any options for sexual behavior other than abstinence until marriage. The marriage discussed in abstinence only education is between a man and a woman only. This leaves out anyone of a different sexual orientation. Students who ask questions in class about condoms and safer sex are told only that the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases is to practice abstinence.

What is interesting is that abstinence is the method of birth control that has the highest failure rate. People mean well, they intend to abstain from sex. But then when the moment comes they do have sex,it is usually unprotected because they are unprepared, uneducated and have been taught that if they do have sex they should feel guilty and ashamed.

The best, most effective sex education is where abstinence is combined with safer sex education and information. Take that a step further and have parents be involved to take factual information and talk to their kids about incorporating their values into the mix and society will have the best of both worlds. Well educated adolescents and parents involved to help them make good sexual decisions.


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