Argument: Abstinence-only discourages condom-use, increases risks

Issue Report: Abstinence-only vs. comprehensive sex education


“Editorial: Sex ed/Abstinence-only is unrealistic”. Star Tribune. 6 Dec. 2004 – Most polls show that 50 to 65 percent of all high schoolers become sexually active before they graduate. After reviewing hundreds of thousands of programs, the previous surgeon general concluded that students exposed to only abstinence education were less likely to practice safe sex when they did become active, thus increasing their risk for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Stephanie Luke. “Sex education a must”. The Daily Collegian. 4 Dec. 2008 – Are people more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections if they are educated about the dangers and preventative measures, or if they are not? If people are not taught how to use contraceptives, they are not going to know how to use them properly, which could result in unplanned pregnancies or the contraction of STIs. Sexual education makes sense.

Stephanie Luke. “Sex education a must”. The Daily Collegian. 4 Dec. 2008 – Programs such as the “Silver Ring Thing” encourage teenagers to buy promise rings with the intention of remaining virginal until marriage. The “Silver Ring Thing” also teaches that condoms do not work at all.

Minister Denny Pattyn, creator of this particular program, has said that he tells his own teenage daughter not to use condoms if she breaks her pledge of abstinence. “I don’t think it’ll protect her. It won’t protect her heart,” said Pattyn in an interview with “60 Minutes” correspondent Ed Bradley.

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health was a nationwide study of adolescent sexuality. This federally funded $54 million study investigated thousands of teenagers who had taken a purity pledge.

On the up side, taking the pledge delayed sex for these teens for around 18 months. On the down side, when these teenagers became sexually active, they were one-third less likely to use a condom. Why? It’s because they hadn’t been educated about condoms.

These teenagers were just as likely, the study found, to contract STIs as the teenagers who had sexual education in their history. Not only this, but the pledges were more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as anal and oral sex, because they associated virginity with vaginal sex. And because of their public pledge to remain abstinent, these teenagers were much less likely to get tested for STIs.