The debate about the type of sex education to give is an age long one. When we were young, many of us were taught using the abstinence-only approach. As we can confirm, it wasn’t the most effective approach.
In an online poll, 89% of the population (parents) confirmed that the abstinence-only approach is ineffective.
Okay, let’s analyse both approaches:
Abstinence-only sex education is a method of sex ed whose basic idea is ‘not having sex outside of marriage’. It very frequently omits other vital parts of sexual and reproductive health education, such as contraceptives and safe sex.
Research does not support its effectiveness. It has also been discovered to be ineffective in reducing HIV risks. (Chin, Ann, Randy et al. (2012). It does not reduce rates of unplanned pregnancy or sexual activity, especially in comparison with the comprehensive approach.
Disadvantages of the abstinence-only approach
- In the United States, 11 states evaluated the impact of their abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Their findings revealed that none of the programs reduces teen sexual activity. More, those who take the virginity pledge often find loopholes to keep their pledges intact by participating in oral or anal sex — which is risky on its own. They also tend to neglect condom use when they begin to have vaginal intercourse.
- These programs often contain inaccurate information or blur the truth. For instance, they distort information about the effectiveness of contraceptives, by emphasising on the fact that condoms burst. They misrepresent the risks of abortion by indicating that it can kill one or destroy the uterus. And they frequently treat stereotypes about girls and boys as scientific fact.
- The abstinence-only approach has minimal backing, except for religious institutions. Unless it is your goal to promote fundamentalist Christianity, we discourage this approach.
A significant disadvantage of the abstinence-only approach is that it can be detrimental to those who were sexually abused. At least according to 60% of the population.
Comprehensive Sexuality Education
This is a system of sex education that believes in teaching and learning about the emotional, cognitive, social and physical aspects (the complete package) of sexuality.
Because adolescents and teens often receive conflicting information about sexual issues, there is an increasing need for reliable information.
Advantages of Comprehensive Sex Education
- Well-delivered age-appropriate comprehensive sex education empowers young people to make educated decisions about their sexuality and relationships.
- It helps teens and adolescents steer clear of issues such as gender inequality, gender-based violence, early and unplanned pregnancies, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can cause severe health risks.
- Without age-appropriate sexuality and relationship education, children and young people become vulnerable to sexual exploitation and harmful sexual experiences.
Major concerns parents have about the comprehensive sexuality education is that it would encourage sexual behaviours. The opposite is, in fact, the case.
In one Research, (Ekrut, Grossman, Frye, Ceder & Charmaraman, 2013) exposed fifth-graders to comprehensive sex education. They found that those exposed were 30% less likely to initiate sex in the next year than their counterparts who weren’t.
The findings indicate that early comprehensive sex education can delay the onset of sex and sexual behaviours.