Abstinence-Only Sex Education Will Not Work

sperm and eggThe state of Mississippi has the nation's highest teen pregnancy rate. And until this year, Mississippi allowed schools to forgo sex education. A new state law passed mandates that school districts adopt either abstinence-only or abstinence-plus sex education policies. Before this law, any district that taught sex education had to teach abstinence-only. Under the new law, a majority still chose to teach abstinence-only.

Did I mention that Mississippi has the nations highest teen pregnancy rate?


It's great that Mississippi is trying to be proactive and get a sex education policy on the books. But it's ridiculous that so many are opting for abstinence only. Not because I am against abstinence, mind you. I was the poster child for abstinence. Catholic girl with a Latino daddy ... hello!

But let’s be honest. How often does forbidding anything work with children? I don’t care if it’s babies or teens, it doesn't work. Hell, if I'm forbidden something I want it that much more -- especially if it's something that's just sprung on me after years of having the forbidden item. (See failed diets.)

It would be so much better if parents had open, honest dialogues with their children about sex education at an early age -- rather than when their daughter comes home pregnant or their son comes home with gonorrhea. Abstinence is a moral teaching that we should impart upon our children. It is not the school’s responsibility to raise our children with ethics and codes of conduct.

Parents should encourage abstinence by explaining the concept of respecting themselves, having the maturity to make the choice like an adult, which includes taking responsibility for any and all consequences. Abstinence is truly the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy or STDs.

But coming in at the teen years and trying to teach only abstinence without the moral reasoning, is like trying to avoid cancer by not going to the doctor for check-ups. It’s a day late and a dollar short.

Sex education should be primarily the responsibility of the parents. If schools are going to teach sex education, they should educate students about the proper way to take safety precautions as well as on all the possible consequences. Students need to be educated to make informed decisions.

Whose responsibility do you think sex education is?

Image via Asiatic League/Flickr

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