A good abstinence program consists of much more than just saying “don’t have sex”. It covers positive consequences of saving sex for marriage, such as longer lasting, happier, often lifelong marriages, higher self-esteem, and children with the benefits of being raised by united parents; and covers potential negative consequences of sex outside of marriage, including STDs, becoming single parents (whether having children before marriage or from divorce - more common when parents didn't save sex until marriage) with increased incidence of their children being poor, quitting school, going to jail, and increased risk of suicide and depression among sexually active adolescents.
Abstinence programs discuss contraceptives, but focus on their limitations; “comprehensive” programs focus on promoting their use.
Both sex ed programs feature role-play exercises: "abstinence" teach how to say “no”; “comprehensive” teach how to get your “partner” to use a condom.
“Comprehensive” programs I examined spend about 85 percent of the time promoting contraceptives for sex and less than 15 percent giving lip service to “abstinence is best”. Contrary implications of promoters of “safe” or “safer sex”, abstinence programs provide good accurate scientific information.
If someone with STD(s) has sex, they are less likely to transmit the STD(s) if they do use a condom (and I see no teens who do not know this); even using a condom there is still risk of transmitting STD(s), therefore having sex with them even if they use a condom is not safe.
When I first came to Moultrie, I prescribed oral contraceptives to teens who requested them, figuring it preferable to their seeking abortions. But I found that about 50 percent of those teens became pregnant within a year. Reported pregnancy rates among married couples using condoms is as low as 5 percent a year; the overall average is about 15 percent; reported rates among teens is up to 50 percent.
Germs that carry most STDs are significantly smaller than sperm, can be transmitted every day of the month, and condoms don't cover all infected skin area involved in some STDs. No, using “protection” does not make sex safe.
(There is not space for details on individual diseases. Nor are condoms or other contraceptives going to lower the emotional sequelae or risk of subsequent divorce and its consequences that having sex outside of marriage involves.)
Those promoting “comprehensive” sex ed should take their heads out of the sand - see that the “comprehensive” programs of the 80’s and early 90’s didn't prevent teen pregnancy or STDs which rose exponentially during those years.
Pregnancies in the middle schools were common in Colquitt County before their abstinence programs.
In the CRMC nursery we see that these numbers have dropped tremendously, except for Hispanic immigrants, many who never attended school here.
Despite ever-increasing promotion of premarital sex in the media, nationwide teen pregnancies dropped from a peak in the 1990’s, which corresponds with more school abstinence programs and parental notification laws.
Sadly, funding limitations have recently removed our more extensive CIS after-school abstinence program.
Rather than promote sex with condoms, let's offfer our children the best: improve and expand abstinence programs, including addressing where to draw the line (drawing it far enough back to limit the temptation to go further).
Patricia Lee June, M.D.