Effectiveness of Abstinence-Only Sexual Education

7 pages
1754 words
University of California, Santa Barbara
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Research paper
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Sexual education is a diverse and broad discipline that deals with matters human sexuality and responsibilities about sexual developments among different groups and ages of persons. Among the critical aspects relating to sex education include, emotional development, reproduction, an age of sexual consent in the various countries, sexual abstinence among other varying factors in human sexuality (Underhill et al. 67). Over the years in diverse communities and cultures, there have been discussions about the age of sexual consent. It thus refers to a period that the law recognizes the ability of persons to enter any sexual involvement.

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The age of sexual consent varies from one country to another and has witnessed amendments in different countries (Sather et al. 76). Another aspect that has seen the discussion on matters sexuality widely embraced is the reality of numerous diseases that spread through sexual engagements with infected individuals. This has seen debates on the need for persons to adopt abstinence from sexual activities more so among the unmarried. Further, teachings from cultures like the Christianity discourage the unmarried from engaging in any form of sexual involvement (Starkman et al. 65). As a result of this, some communities have adopted education on the need for abstinence until marriage. The discussion around abstinence-only as measures of preventing early teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease has witnessed controversial reactions (Lindberg et al. 198). In the United States, it is reported that the measure, abstinence-only education, has been a massive failure (Underhill et al. 67). Despite the high adoption of abstinence education propelled by different social, religious groups and even the government, it is reported that the US is among the primary industrial nations in the high number of adolescent pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. In the light of this, the paper will attempt to discuss the issue of education of abstinence-only adopted in the United States about teenage pregnancies and the overall effectiveness of the program in early 2000.

Governments across the world are profoundly affected by the cases of teenage pregnancies and more so the possible infections that are contracted as a result of premarital and unprotected sexual intercourse (Underhill et al. 76). Besides, adopting an agreeable age of sexual consent, the governments and the community as a whole have gotten involved in sensitizing the targeted generations on the risk in irresponsible sexual behaviors. In the United States, the governments over the years have sponsored sexual education programs in public institutions that target the young generation (Collins et al. 98). Before the year 2000, research revealed that the use of birth control declined in males from 81 percent to 66 percent. For females, abstinence increased from 74 percent to over 83 percent. According to Collins (99), the research carried out by the National Survey of Adolescents and the National Survey of Family Growth the resultant lower proportion was as a result of lower formal instruction about birth controls and abstinence. Additionally, the research discovered and unveiled that teenagers who receive formal instruction on abstinence and sexual education have a higher chance of engaging in sexual activities than teens who do not get any sexual instruction. The findings concluded that substantial instructions on sexual matters increase chances of young adults, engaging in sexual practices than those without any formal instructions. However, a different study by World Health Organization in 2002, revealed that before the year 2000, teenagers who never received any form of sexual instruction became the greatest victims of sexual abuse and engagement and practices than those who receive a formal education in sexual matters. Collins (100) maintains that the stark differences in the two findings reveal that despite any form of formal education on matters sexual, chances of teenagers engaging in sexual practices remain high.

However, it is worth noting that before the year 2000, information broadcast and access to information was limited. The revolution of information technology and the internet has exposed a large number of teenagers and young adults to a world of adult material, compromising on their moral values and principles (Jemmott 34). In the early and late 70s, the society had well-established moral guidelines on matters sexual as compared to late 2000. It is worth noting that before the year 2000, the society paid more emphasis on child rearing as a collective responsibility that helped many parents raise children of sound moral and ethical values. Teenagers were provided with instructional education on life skills, which included aspects such as family life, marriage, and their responsibility in the society. These skills in conjunction with the overall input of the society as a whole helped shape young adults into responsible adults later in life.

Controversy in Sexual Education

Owing to high cases of teenage pregnancy in the US, despite the Abstinence Only Education sponsored by the State over the years, there has been a controversy in the effectiveness of this education plan. The central message of abstinence-only education is avoiding sexual involvement until attaining a certain age. Compared with other nations where comprehensive sexual education is organized in public schools, there are low rates of teenage pregnancies (Underhill et al. 67). Comprehensive sexual education makes it clear possible safe sexual activities that persons can undertake to prevent the possible uncertainties of sexually genital diseases and early pregnancies. The ability of options in broad sexual edification in the initial years of 2000 has provided the opportunity for teenagers to adopt other safe sexual practices hence avoiding the possible extreme outcomes (Collins et al. 109).

Aspects resulting into controversies between comprehensive sex education and abstinence-only until marriage

Comprehension Sexual Education Abstinence only Measure

Focuses on sexual activity being a healthy and natural part of human life. Concentrates on the negative consequences of indulging in sexual intercourse before marriage about social and even psychological effects.

Responds to abstinence as central in preventing early pregnancies and transmitted genital infections. Under abstinence-only, abstinence is considered the only accepted behavior.

The measure gives teenage pregnant women with different options that include; carrying the pregnancy to its fullness of adopting measures like abortion that will terminate the pregnancy. Once pregnant, the strategy abstinence only recommends that there is no any other option for the pregnant teenagers if not carrying the pregnancy.

Appreciates the existence of religious values that influences sexually related decisions. However, encourages individuals to exercise their personal and family values. Majorly promotes specific religious beliefs.

Promotes the use of modern forms of contraception in preventing unplanned pregnancies among the married. Does not recognize the use of modern forms of contraception.

Gives several positive messages about sexuality of persons and also appreciates the need for abstinence including the benefits of abstinence Adopts some measures to encourage people to embrace total abstinence.

Reactions to the topic of Abstinence only Mechanism

There are different views upheld by persons in different societies that seem to support the need to encourage persons to adopt total abstinence to sexual engagements until marriage.

Supporters of the abstinence-only Mechanism

The supporters of the strategy have argued that the device helps in promoting desirable morality standards among teenagers and the unmarried. The morality standards set focuses on preserving the marriage institution as it places forth both physical and emotional consequences that persons will face in the event of the first indulgence into sexual activities. Comparing this to the general mechanism, abstinence-only helps in reducing the possible cases of teenagers contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections that could be adverse regarding their effects (Collins et al. 65).

Opposition to the Mechanism

Contradicting arguments to abstinence-only as a strategy to reducing instances of early pregnancy puts forth some concerns. Firstly, there is an argument that the policy does not provide the younger generation with adequate information about their sexuality. It thus opens up the possibility of the targeted group of persons indulging in practices that could be misleading, the hence possible realization of early pregnancies, abortions and even increasing rates of sexually transmitted infections (Doan et al. 87).

High Teen Pregnancies, Abortion and Birth Rates

Unexpectedly, embracing abstinence has witnessed relatively increased instances of early pregnancy and many cases of abortions within the country. Abstinence Only education fails to recognize the fact that many teenagers and the unmarried in general are at risk of indulging in these sexual activities. Kirby (16) maintains that the education plan, therefore, does not provide measures that these individuals could adopt in the event of sexual activities. Also, this education has also been seen to focus on pre-marital sex as gross misconduct hence teenagers have continued to shy from consulting widely on matters affecting them sexually. This fear has contributed to unwarranted pregnancies and even abortion by teenagers (Bowden, Rodney 43).

The role of the Family Unit

High rates of teenage pregnancies in the country can also be attributed to the statistics that shows that parents have shied off from engaging their growing children on matters sexual education. The government is solely the body that strives to spread the message of sex indulgence on upon marriage (Stanger-Hall et al. 341). Sexual abstinence traces its foundation on certain cultural or religious principles. The family unit often plays a critical role in guiding any principles to be adopted. Apart from the programs adopted in public institutions, the family should provide an environment that makes it possible for the promotion of certain values and principles (Kohler et al. 98).

Influence of the Social Media

The United States as a country is technologically advanced hence the massive subscribers to the different social sites. The young generation is placed to be the primary users of these social sites besides their high access to the internet platform in general. It has apparently been argued that access to these social media has played a role in influencing the perception of teenagers concerning early sexual activities (Perrin et al. 65). For example, accessing pornographic films that are readily available on the internet has been a major source of moral decay among the teenagers. In reacting to those found articles and videos, the teenagers have often tried these practices resulting in earlier pregnancies and abortions upon fearing of the unknown outcomes (Bleakley et al. 132).

Peer influence is another tool that impacts the ability of the younger generation to embrace abstinence. Statistics show the teenagers are easily influenced in actions that they adopt. Due to the large social media platform, there is exist high risk in teenagers being influenced by changing the sexual behaviors. The changes could be in support of the need to abstain and also to the negative edge which could involve force that encourages teenagers to blindly indulge immature sexual activities (Kohler et al. 65).

Adoption of abstinence is discussed to be important an important behavioral measure in reducing the number of HIV infections and early pregnancies. It is worth noting that a large...

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