Congress Scrutinizes its Sex Education Approach

April 25, 2008 04:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Abstinence-only sex education, which the White House has encouraged for years, is getting another look in Congress. Critics say it doesn’t work.

30-Second Summary

Congress is examining its policy of funding sex education programs that encourage teens to abstain from sex and emphasize the failure rates of birth control methods.

“We are showering funds on abstinence-only programs that don't appear to work, while ignoring proven comprehensive sex education programs that can delay sex, protect teens from disease, and result in fewer teen pregnancies,” said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the committee’s chairman, AP reports.

Last year, during the first session of a Democrat-controlled Congress, abstinence-only funding was increased, which incensed some.

At the time, James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, said it was ironic the “first domestic policy the Democrats will endorse on the prevention front will be to fund abstinence-only-until-marriage programs for young people up to the age of 29! Good work, gang. You make me proud to be a Democrat—NOT!”

Health experts have called for a different approach to sex education, saying abstinence-only doesn’t work. An Advocates for Youth study concluded the programs show little impact on long-term behavior.

According to a 2007 fact sheet from the National Abstinence Education Association: “Once they understand what abstinence education actually teaches, 6 out of 10 parents would rather their child receive abstinence education vs. comprehensive sex education.”

Headline Links: Experts slam abstinence-only sex education during Congressional hearing

Opinion & Analysis: Democrats disappointed in 2007, parents support abstinence-only; doctors don’t

Reference: House testimony, abstinence-only reports

Related: Sexually transmitted infection rates rise for teen girls


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