Teen sexual health outcomes over the past decade have been mixed. On one hand, teen pregnancy and birth rates have fallen dramatically, reaching record lows. On the other hand, rates of sexually transmitted infections STIs among teens and young adults have been on the rise. Many schools and community groups have adopted programming that incorporates abstinence from sexual activity as an approach to reduce teen pregnancy and STI rates.
Skip to content. Everyone has an opinion about sexuality education. From vocal parents at PTA meetings to state governors who must decide whether to apply for federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs or more comprehensive sexuality programs, or both, or neither. From school principals who have to choose which sex education speakers to let into their schools to presidential candidates who have to defend their views from the most zealot activists.
Comprehensive Sex Education vs. Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs
Abstinence is the practice of not engaging in sexual activity. Depending on who you ask, sexual activity can mean many different things. Unlike most safe sex alternatives, abstinence is percent effective in preventing sexually transmitted infections STIs and pregnancy.
AIDS: Safe-sex education appears to be more effective than abstinence education in influencing risk behavior among young people, however, political pressures dictate that more funding be directed toward abstinence programs. The first randomized controlled trial of safer-sex vs. Both approaches were effective in reducing HIV exposure, but safer-sex education influenced behavior for a longer period of time. Of the students who were not sexually active across both groups, the ones in the abstinence group were more likely to defer sexual activity in the 3 months following the program. However, the safer-sex, the abstinence, and the control groups reported the same levels of sexual activity after 6 and 12 months, with only the safer-sex group reducing the amount of unprotected sexual intercourse.