Abstinence-only education is entirely ineffective and has been, on many occasions, proven to be a complete failure. These programs are not helping students stay safe. Instead, they fail to equip our youth with the needed tools to navigate a sex-centric nation. In America, countries use sex to sell just about everything. Look at this actual ad campaign from Tom Ford's male fragrance line...
So here's the problem: American pop-culure and the advertising industry glorify sex at every corner. Turn on the radio, flick around on the television, or look at a magazine next time you're at the doctor office. I guarantee you'll find countless examples of sex being glorified in our culture. But instead of talking about how kids stay safe, happy & health, abstinence-only programs mislead students.
When we start digging into the facts, these programs become increasingly more scary. The Unites States House of Representatives released a detailed report on the Nation's most popular federally funded abstinence-only education programs. A whopping 80% of the programs use a curriculum that "distort information about the effectiveness of contraceptives, misrepresent the risks of abortion, blur religion and science, treat stereotypes about girls and boys as scientific fact, and contain basic scientific errors." We have a country that props sex on a pedestal, but an education system that reinforces gender stereotypes and lies to kids about basic sexual health practices. It is unsurprising that absolutely no abstinence-only programs have been proven to have any effect on the sexual health of teens.
In 2016 the Center for Disease control reported more than 2 million new cases of the three nationally reported STD's (chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea). This is the highest number ever reported. The group that contributed most to this number... young people ages 15 to 24.
You can read the full report here!
This is undoubtedly a public health crisis. Teenagers are contracting sexually transmitted infections and diseases at record rates while schools lie to them about how to properly use contraceptives and prevent common ailments.
We need to act quickly before this gets any worse or potentially unmanageable. Many activist are already working hard to mandate comprehensive sex education, which is a model that treats sexuality as healthy and normal while acknowledging that abstinence is the only way to stay 100% safe from unintended pregnancy and infections.
If you are at all concerned about the health of young people, this should be alarming. We need to change the way our country teaches sex education. Programs need to be inclusive and comprehensive. They should be medically accurate and unbiased. You can learn more about the fight to change sex education programs and how to get involved here.