Top 10 Reasons Why Evidence-Based Pregnancy Prevention is Better than Abstinence-Only Education

After writing last week’s blog post about Sarah, my new teen pregnancy prevention hero, I realized that our readers might not be familiar with the term “evidence-based” as it relates to sexuality education.

I thought I’d write an explanation. But when I found myself mired deeper and deeper in more and more complex terminology, I started to worry.

How could I possibly explain this stuff without putting my readers to sleep?

Then the proverbial light bulb came on and I decided to put together a Top Ten List, a la David Letterman, comparing comprehensive, evidence-based pregnancy prevention programming with abstinence-only-until-marriage education.  So, here goes…

Top 10 Reasons for Using Comprehensive, Evidence-Based Sex Ed:

10 – Evidence-based programs involved multiple people with varying expertise to develop the curricula.

9 – They are designed to be short, focused and targeted for specific populations.

8 – They create a safe social environment for young people to participate.

7 – They focus on clear health goals — the prevention of STD/HIV, pregnancy, or both.

6 – They focus on specific types of behavior leading to these health goals.

5 – They address several factors that affect sexual behavior — like knowledge, values, attitudes, self-efficacy and they change them.

4 – They address situations that might arise and how to avoid them.

3 – The vast majority of Americans and a broad range of health and education professionals support comprehensive sexuality education.

2 – Almost all Americans have sex before marrying — a fact that has been true for decades.

1 – Evidence-based sex ed programs have been proven — through rigorous evaluation — to reduce risky sexual behavior.

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Top 10 Reasons for NOT Using Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Sex Ed:

10 – Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs contain factual errors, such as the claim that “HIV can be spread via sweat and tears.”

9 – These program shame students who have already had sex.

8 – They ignore lesbian and gay youth and show a clear bias against homosexuality.

7 – They use scare tactics, for example — “sexual activity outside of marriage may have harmful psychological and physical effects.”

6 – They censor information about contraception and condoms, except to talk about failure rates.

5 – They re-traumatize survivors of sexual abuse, rape and/or molestation by portraying all sexual activity as a conscious, consensual choice.

4 – Studies show that young people who took a pledge of abstinence-until-marriage were 1/3 less likely to use contraception when they did become sexually active.

3 – Pledgers have the same rate of STDs as their peers who haven’t taken the pledge.

2 – These programs blur religion and science, while promoting a version of morality in the guise of public health.

1 – NO study in a professional peer-reviewed journal has found abstinence-only-until-marriage programs to be effective.

Seems to me that the FPA’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program is totally on the right track, helping schools and youth-serving organizations provide students with evidence-based sex ed. Wouldn’t you agree?

~ Nancy

note: My sources for these lists include SIECUS, Advocates for Youth, and The National Campaign.

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