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The Ineffectiveness of Abstinence Programs

            The issue of sex education in schools has been a debate among parents, school administrators, health officials, and religious organizations for years. We all know that the safest sex is no sex at all, yet we continue to engage in that activity. If we are not, then we are thinking about it, planning on doing so in the future, or being bombarded by it in the media. Abstinence-only sex education persuades teens to wait until marriage before having sex, but totally ignores all other aspects of comprehensive sexual education, like safe sex and the use of contraceptives and birth control ("Truth About Abstinence-Only Programs," n.d.). Abstinence-only programs are not effective at delaying sexual activity, preventing unwanted pregnancy, or reducing Sexual Transmitted Diseases (STD's).
             According to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SEICUS), since 1981 the federal government has funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, even though scientific research has shown that they are unsuccessful ("A History of Federal Funding for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs", n.d.). In order for these schools to receive money from the government, they must comply with certain rules; one being that sexual activity outside of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects, and another stating that having children out of wedlock will possibly have damaging consequences for the child, the child's parents, and society (Impacts of Four Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Programs, n.d.). The schools are not allowed to teach students about safe sex and cannot mention contraception unless it is to point out its' failure rates. .
             Today, sexual education is mandatory in public schools in 22 of the 50 states in the U.S., including the District of Columbia (D.C) (State Policies on Sex Education in Schools, 2015). In President Barack Obama's proposed budget for fiscal year 2015, he eliminated funding for abstinence-only education, which was a big part of the funding for school programs in his 2010 Affordable Care Act (Nelson, 2014).

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