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What's Next For Abstinence-Only Sex-Ed Programs?

What's Next For Abstinence-Only Sex-Ed Programs?

When Obama decided not to renew the Title V grant program that funds abstinence-only sex education programs in his 2010 budget, places like McLennan County in Texas found their coffers, already depleted when their $800,000 grant ran out in 2007, dwindle from $1 million to zero.

Since 1997, $1.9 billion in government funding ($1.5 billion of it federal money) has gone to abstinence-only education, turning it into an industry unto itself. Although the Senate Finance Committee voted to restore the funding 12-11 last month, the measure needs to pass the full Congress, which is unlikely. At this point, it looks like private donors will have to cough up the funding if these programs want to survive.

Abstinence ed flourished in the late '90s and early 2000s and federal funding doubled from $80 million in 2001 to $200 million during the Bush years in spite of research that showed sexual behavior didn't change among those who had received the education.

So what's the future of abstinence-only education? Its advocates like Director Tracy Cousins of the McLennan County Collaborative Abstinence Program (MCCAP) in Texas considered tweaking their programs in order to get some funding. But they decided in the end that showing students, for example, how to put a condom on compromised their message of abstinence only. "We believe," says Tracy Cousins,"the best approach [for students] is they should not engage in sexual activity."

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
anursewhoknows anursewhoknows 5 years
I'm a nurse and a speaker to teens. If parents knew how to tell their kids about sex, using correct terms, like penis and vagina, it would be amazing. Most people don't know the basics and that's why "at home" teaching doesn't work. You need teachers specially trained, or even nurses teaching the youth about their bodies and the TRUTH about STIs/STDs for them to be able to make better choices. When they hear, from someone who has the correct information, they often listen because they DO want to know. When they find out that there is NO way to NOT get a disease, even when using condoms correctly (which teens rarely do), they can then make the BEST decision. I always hope that will be abstinence. The risks are: cancer, pain, sores, HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, etc... You decide. Good (maybe) now, or GREAT later!
sloane220 sloane220 7 years
i hope abstinence only education dies out. kids are going to continue to have sex and one of the ways to equip them to protect themselves from sti's and unwanted pregnancy is comprehensive safe sex education. if a parent wants their child to get an abstinence only education, they should teach it at home.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
Glad to see no more money is going to be poured into abstinance only programs by the government. It is not doing these children any favor to deny them knowledge on how to protect themselves should they engage in sexual activities.
Venus1 Venus1 7 years
Abstinence can be gotten rid of by persuasion, therefore it doe not work.
staple-salad staple-salad 7 years
I think that abstinence education is a waste of time. When I learned "just say no to sex" in school, I didn't know what they were talking about and made it seem like all guys were big jerks who only wanted to beat their girlfriends. I didn't really realize it meant you weren't supposed to have sex. I think schools have a responsibility to teach kids how to use condoms, and that parents should be the ones teaching about abstinence if that's what they want their kids to learn. That way, the kids get the education they should have, and get their personal morals enforced by their parents, not the government. And it takes the whole "parents who don't give a crap" problem out of the equation.
xxstardust xxstardust 7 years
*you and CG
xxstardust xxstardust 7 years
running - I'm pretty sure CG actually agree ... I read her answer as saying that if parents want abstinence, educate them on that at home; at school they'll receive a full education. Which is absolutely the right decision - abstinence IS a good idea, but for many people it's not the idea they're going to choose. Encourage abstinence, yes - but not to the exclusion of education about safe sex practices.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
Forgot to add that just yesterday I saw a young girl - maybe 16 - pushing a baby stroller .. while very pregnant. Broke my heart. Unfortunantly, from what I've seen, many parents in Baltimore city are not sitting down and talking sex with their kids. School may be the only place for it.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
That's great, CG, except when the parents don't give a siht. I wonder how many parents (who became so at age 14, by the way), sat down and had a talk with their children about the physical and emotional consequences of sex.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
Haha, fuzzles, I agree!
MissSushi MissSushi 7 years
Pointless programs just wasting money. People in GENERAL don't listen to whats best for them, much less teenagers pumped full of hormones and the urge to experiment and rebel. Blacklisting anything is a bad idea, a very bad idea. Hopefully they get education about stds, safe sex, and pregnancy. When I watched a very graphic video of a live birth in the 7th grade, it was incredibly shocking and very much a reminder to exercise caution and protection. i think they should have those giant posters like at the dentist with pictures of rotted teeth and the such, just of stds and things... lol. A four foot tall picture of chlamydia or genital warts symptoms would be pretty compelling.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 7 years
LOL fuzzles :) and very well said CG -- you are able to believe and teach what you want, but it shouldn't be government-provided if its incomplete education
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
this program shouldnt be taught in schools, if you want this for your kids YOU should teach it, not the government.
fuzzles fuzzles 7 years
Well, Tracy, you can wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which one gets filled first.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 7 years
"We believe," says Tracy Cousins,"the best approach [for students] is they should not engage in sexual activity." Yes, I think most people agree with this (even those who are for an all inclusive sex ed program in schools), however, we also know that students don't always do what is best for them. Which is why knowledge is power and educating them on the consequences (positive & negative) of having sex is important, rather than teaching them to bury their heads in the sand.
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