Abstinence programs claim to concentrate on psychological and social aspects of sex, and emphasize love, intimacy and commitment. On average, about 54% of curricula in abstinence-only programs are devoted to the subject of abstinence. Abstinence-only education programs include information on healthy relationships and the benefits of marriage, neither of which is incorporated in most comprehensive sexuality education programs. Abstinence-only programs, nonetheless, are being accused of teaching gender stereotypes, religious beliefs, scientific and medical errors presented as fact, as well as misinformation about contraceptive effectiveness and abortion risks. Two evaluations of state-funded abstinence programs even found an increase in sexual activity among youth.
The primary goal of comprehensive sexuality education, on the other hand, is risk reduction, with an average of only 4.5% abstinence curricula. It is often criticized for using the name “abstinence-plus” due to the low percentage of abstinence curriculum actually included in the program. Comprehensive sexuality education focuses on the physical risks associated with STDs and pregnancy, and generally includes two times more page content on STDs than abstinence-only curricula. It consists of approximately 28% contraception curricula, compared to 0% in abstinence-only programs. Comprehensive sexuality education programs also provide students with alternatives to intercourse, which is also not included in most abstinence-only programs.
Comprehensive sexuality programs have proven to reduce HIV-risk behavior, teach sexual communication skills, delay the onset of sexual intercourse, encourage proper condom use and promote abstinence. Abstinence-only programs are much less effective in the above areas. Programs advocating both contraception and abstinence are more successful in delaying the initiation and frequency of sex, and increasing condom use among teens. Research at Columbia University has indicated an increased risk for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections for those in virginity pledge programs. Even though 88% of them ended-up having sex before marriage, pledge-takers were less likely to use contraception or seek testing for sexually transmitted disease when they did have sex.
The promotion of adult sexual health is the main goal of sexuality education. Sexuality education should provide students with knowledge and skills that assist them in decision making and caring for their sexual health throughout their lives. It should also help them obtain a more positive view of sexuality. In order to supply precise information about human sexuality, sex education programs must include information about anatomy and physiology, growth and development, human reproduction, masturbation, sexual orientation and response, contraception, pregnancy, abortion, childbirth, parenthood, family life, and sexual abuse, as well as provide information about sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Students in sexuality education programs should also have the opportunity to develop their own values and increase self-esteem via questions and exploration which should promote the evaluation of family values and help students to recognize their responsibilities and obligations to family members and others.
Science and ideology are at war with one another at the forefront of sex education in the United States, as the battle between scientific efficacy and moral convictions continues. Scientific analysis and review on the subject of federal funding for abstinence-until-marriage and abstinence-only education reveals scientific problems and raises questions regarding government support of A.O.E. Sadly, global HIV-prevention efforts are greatly influenced by the U.S. so abstinence-onloy policies in this country reduce the accessibility of STD prevention information and the availability of condoms throughout the entire world.