Abstinence is the only 100% sure way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. We know that, and it should be taught that way as part of a broader sex education curriculum.
However, what we have seen over the past few years is an abstinence only curriculum. In fact, this agenda, which removes all other forms of sexual education, is damaging, because it is ineffective. A study by the American Society of Pediatricians cites statistics that 45% of high school girls and 48% of boys have engaged in sexual intercourse. For these students, who are not practicing abstinence, there needs to be a recognition that ignorance is more dangerous than providing a discussion of birth control, STD's and other topics contained in a sex ed class.
In fact, abstinence only education is a recent development, and it is (as I posted on July 21) liberal solutions that have worked over the past generation to reduce the abortion rate to half of what it was in the mid 1970's.
Now, however, we see a new tactic being used by groups which favor a broad based sex education curriculum (and despite what conservative pundits say, no liberal proposes not teaching the benefits of abstinence, but rather we support teaching it as the best, but not the only option for avoiding pregnancy and illness). These groups are challenging abstinence only by the use of an obscure law that allows "affected persons" to seek the correction of information disseminated by federal agencies, the groups said Tuesday that the abstinence education programs contain erroneous and ineffective information. They asked the Health and Human Services Department to correct it.
According to James Wagoner, the President of Advocates for Youth, one of the two groups challenging the programs, the programs state that condom use reduces the incidence of HIV/AIDS by 69-90%, while in fact the rate is at least 98%.
Now, abstinence is still the best plan, and I hope that my younger daughters practice it. But my older daughter did not, and I hope that if they also do not then they will use birth control and protect themselves in every way they can.