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An Interdisciplinary Journal on Sexual Health

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M-DIAMOND-Sex Education

Abstinence-only Sex Education:

Potential Developmental Effects


Milton Diamond and Hazel G. Beh

 Abstract:  In the United States the federal government has spent over $170 million annually to subsidize states and community organizations that provide abstinence-only sex education or abstinence until marriage sex education programs. Such an education not only stresses that abstinence until marriage is to be practiced but that any sexual activity outside of a monogamous heterosexual marriage is not only morally wrong but is the only way to prevent pregnancy or avoid developing a sexually transmitted disease. Any other method except for abstinence is said to fail. The government’s decision was based on politics rather than science. Those who argue against abstinence-only instruction and for comprehensive sex education programs claim the current programs are not only ineffective but also dangerous to the children it is supposed to help and bad for society as a whole. Comprehensive sex education has been shown to increase preventive behaviors against unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and other sex-related complications. Many professional organizations have testified against continued funding for abstinence-only programs and for comprehensive instruction. Also, the large majority of parents of junior and senior high school students believe it is important that sex education be complete and cover such topics as birth control use, prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases, and contraception use and skills. It has evolved into a political debate to define American values. This essay is a commentary on this governmental conservative policy and the negative effect it has on students’ mature development. The positive influences of comprehensive sex-education are presented.

 sex education, abstinence-only programs,  sexually transmitted disease, teenage pregnancy

SexuS Journal ● 2018 ● 3 (9): 657-664


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