LETTER- Abstinence-only ed doesn't work

Thank you for bringing attention to the importance of sex education in your May 3  news article, "No-sex ed: Abstinence-only aims for local support." In response, I would like to create awareness of the overwhelming evidence that abstinence-only programs are not only ineffective, they are potentially dangerous.

Abstinence-only programs are part of a moralistic social agenda that has cost taxpayers over $1 billion since 1996. The curricula used by these programs are proven to be medically inaccurate and misleading, denying teens potentially life saving, preventive information. Providing comprehensive medically accurate sex education that presents facts about prevention, contraception, and family values is in the best interest for our children and public health.

A 1997 congressional study at Mathematica Policy Research Inc. found that abstinence-only education does not keep kids from having sex. Of 2000 children, over half received abstinence-only sex ed. Half of the group had sex at about age 15. Almost a quarter of them did not use a condom every time, and more than a third of the group reported having at least two partners. The study concluded that the most effective programs taught abstinence and prevention.

Virginity pledges have also failed to keep teens abstinent. Pledgers delay having sex by only 18 months and are one-third less likely to use condoms and seek treatment for STDs. 

It doesn't take a study to tell us that young people are having sex. It's naïve to think that all teens are going to remain abstinent until marriage. Having sex is not morally wrong. Not telling children the truth about sex is morally wrong. As a community, we must ensure that sex ed is factual and presents both abstinence and prevention as ways to preserve sexual health.  

Virginia Glenn