Thursday, December 20, 2007
A Debate About Teaching Abstinence
To prevent teen pregnancy, should students be taught only the merits of abstaining from sex? Or should they also learn about contraception, just in case? Believers on both sides are facing off again, after a government announcement in early December that teen birthrates rose 3 percent last year following a 14-year decline. Some public-health experts blame increasingly popular sex-ed programs that preach abstinence only and keep kids in the dark about other pregnancy-prevention methods: A study published recently in the American Journal of Public Health attributed most of the 14-year birthrate drop to wider contraceptive use. "Abstinence-only programs are ideology driven," says Marilyn Keefe, director of reproductive health and rights at the nonprofit National Partnership for Women and Families, "and not a good use of our public-health dollars."