Editorial: Abstinence-Only Education Doesn’t Work

Talon Smith, Reporter

Abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method of birth control, said my health teacher during my freshman year. However effective abstinence may be at preventing pregnancy, it won’t work as long as people want to have sex. Schools should teach medically accurate and comprehensive sexual education in order to properly educate youth on safe sex and proper birth control methods.

Abstinence-only education is not only ineffective, but harmful to teenagers.

A report published by the Journal of Adolescent Health concluded abstinence only education does not prevent teenagers from engaging in sexual activity. “[…] it leaves our young people without the information and skills that they need,” said Laura Lindberg, a coauthor of the report and a research scientist at a reproductive health research group, according to NPR.

The report’s analysis finds that abstinence-only education does nothing to decrease rates of teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It also states that these programs do not even help to delay intercourse in adolescents.

Abstinence-only education clearly fails at achieving its own goals. And in addition, it is actively harming students.

“[…] Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs leave all young people unprepared and are particularly harmful to young people who are sexually active, who are LGBTQ, or have experienced sexual abuse,” said Leslie Kantor, assistant professor of Population and Family Health at the Mailman School of Public Health, according to a Columbia University press release.

These forms of sex education are harmful because they stigmatize and shame youth who have participated in sexual activities. They also exclude LGBTQ students, leaving them with no scientifically accurate information on how to remain safe.

One purpose of schooling is to teach students how to live safely in the world, and continuing with abstinence-only education does the exact opposite of that.

The clear solution to this issue is to replace abstinence-only programs with more accurate, comprehensive, and inclusive sex education.

These inclusive sex ed programs have been shown to be more beneficial, according to a study published by the Journal of Adolescent Health.

This study found that those who received a comprehensive sexual education had significantly lower rates of teen pregnancy.

In order to work towards fixing this issue, you can contact your federal and state representatives to inform them of your support of a comprehensive sexual education over an ineffective, abstinence-only program.