Argument: Abstinence-only helps youth avoid emotional damage of sex

Issue Report: Abstinence-only vs. comprehensive sex education


Robert Rector. “The Effectiveness of Abstinence Education Programs in Reducing Sexual Activity Among Youth”. Heritage. 8 Apr. 2002 – “Young people who become sexually active are vulnerable to emotional and psychological injury as well as to physical diseases. Many young girls report experiencing regret or guilt after their initial sexual experience. In the words of one psychiatrist who recalls the effects of her own sexual experimentation in her teens, ‘The longest-standing, deepest wound I gave myself was heartfelt; that sick, used feeling of having given a precious part of myself–my soul–to so many and for nothing, still aches. I never imagined I’d pay so dearly and for so long.'”

Sexually active youth often live with anxiety about the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy or contracting a devastating STD. Those who do become infected with a disease suffer emotional as well as physical effects. Fears regarding the course the disease are coupled with a loss of self-esteem and self-confidence. In a survey by the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, 80 percent of those who had herpes said that they felt “less confident” and “less desirable sexually.”9

In addition, early sexual activity can negatively affect the ability of young people to form stable and healthy relationships in a later marriage. Sexual relationships among teenagers are fleeting and unstable, and broken intimate relationships can have serious long-term developmental effects. A series of broken intimate relationships can undermine an individual’s capacity to enter into a committed, loving marital relationship. In general, individuals who engage in premarital sexual activity are 50 percent more likely to divorce later in life than those who do not.10 Divorce, in turn, leads to sharp reductions in adult happiness and child well-being.

Marital relationships that follow early sexual activity can also suffer from the emotional impact of infertility resulting from an STD infection, ranging from a sense of guilt to depression. In the words of one gynecologist and fertility specialist, ‘Infertility is so devastating, it often disorients my patients to life itself. This is more than shock or even depression. It impacts every level of their lives, including their marriage.'”

Melissa G. Pardue. “More Evidence of the Effectiveness of Abstinence Education Programs”. Heritage Foundation. 5 May 2005 – teen sexual activity is linked to emotional problems, such as depression, and increased risk of suicide. Abstinence education programs, which encourage teens to delay the onset of sexual activity, are effective in curbing such problems.