I’m certainly glad that at the very least, my argument could make Megan giggle. Coincidentally Megan is quite correct; like some of you who have commented on my debate I also am skeptical of the effectiveness of abstinence-only sexual education and I realize that my argument is the “underdog” here. In spite of this, Keisha very objectively and wisely points out that “We cannot ignore the variety of effective abstinence-only sex education programs simply because we personally support comprehensive sex education. We must actively search for supportive data from both sides to be truly informed about the effectiveness of different sex education programs”.
Thus I am continuing the fight for abstinence-only sex-ed, and defending the legitimacy of this argument. In doing so, I am speaking on behalf of the worried mother, who sees how her middle-school-aged son is starting to get “serious” with his girlfriend; on behalf of the confused teen in a broken family with no role-models to tell her about the dangers of pregnancy, and how by abstaining from sex she has a better likelihood of graduating from high school; on behalf of the boy on the football team who feels daily pressure from his friends to have sex when truthfully he wants to wait until marriage; and finally on behalf of our society in general and what type of people we ideally want our impressionable youth to grow up into.
Like I said in my initial argument, many abstinence-only advocates worry that comprehensive sex-ed could be putting such a strong emphasis on the likelihood of becoming sexually active that it might actually pressure teens in that direction. As I found in an article from the Heritage Foundation entitled “The Case for Maintaining Abstinence Education Funding”, the comprehensive theory “presume[s] teen sexual activity and convey[s] that protected sex is a safe and acceptable alternative to abstinence” (Bradley, Kim). Abstinence-only education, on the other hand, not only ensures that youth know they can choose abstinence over sex but also teaches “life and relationship skills and help[s] lay the foundation for personal responsibility”.
What’s more is that it teaches them invaluable decision-making skills. If a young teen has the education, practice and training to say “no” to sex, they will be more likely to have the courage and confidence to turn down other harmful things like drugs and alcohol. The moral fiber it takes to avoid becoming sexually active in such high levels of peer pressure and amidst such a heavy influence from the media would inevitably help these teens in any difficult situation as they grow up (even into their adult life).
Multiple people who commented on my debate implied that abstinence-only education doesn’t fit the current trends of teen behavior, and therefore we should just succumb to this change in attitudes and convert to comprehensive sex-ed. But this is basically sending young teens the message that they should just “go with the flow” and not stand up for their morals. It is saying that the majority (yet again) wins and that since “everybody’s doing it” even school programs should promote the ideology of the masses. How is it beneficial to society’s future as a whole if we don’t encourage kids to stand up for themselves and to have personal integrity? What kind of people are we raising?
Education is supposed to shape our young individuals into productive and respectful adults. So when we look at the “effectiveness” of the various types of sexual education (comprehensive vs. abstinence-only), we shouldn’t ONLY be looking at statistics and numbers, but also at the behavior and values of our youth. Not only does abstinence prevent pregnancy and the spread of STDs, but it also imbues a strong sense of dedication, loyalty and commitment in people. I realize that one could argue that condoms essentially have the same results regarding the prevention pregnancy and STDs as abstinence, but does the act of putting on a condom require the same internal resolution and fortitude as vocalizing one’s values? Beside that, condoms break. The Pill doesn’t work every time. As stated in the Collins, Alagiri and Summers article, many abstinence-only groups point out that “condoms are not fool-proof in preventing pregnancy or STIs”. Like I said previously, abstinence is the only way to be 100% fetus/STD-free.
I will admit that the strength in Colleen’s argument for comprehensive sex-ed comes from the numbers and the fact that there have been many studies showing that comprehensive education results in fewer teens getting pregnant and getting STIs. However, I would like to point out that not enough time has elapsed to truly evaluate the long-term success of abstinence-only sexual education, because it is not all about the numbers. Of course they are critical, but these studies don’t take into account the fact that abstinence is about more than just decreasing STIs and pregnancy, but also about instilling in individuals a sense of self. Thus in this response, my argument has focused less on the numbers and more on the ideals and goals of our society.
Alagiri, Collins, Summers. “Abstinence Only vs. Comprehensive Sex Education: What are the arguments? What is the evidence?” Progressive Health Partners, 2002.
Bradley, Kim. “The Case for Maintaining Abstinence Education Funding.” The Heritage Foundation. (July 2009) <http://www.heritage.org/Research/Abstinence/wm2562.cfm>