By the time individuals begin attending college, they should possess basic sexuality knowledge. Unfortunately, many students arrive on campus with little actual knowledge about sex due to abstinence only instruction in high school. There is nothing wrong with teaching kids to abstain, as long as its not the only sex education they receive. The Just Say No message has been around for many years and it has failed. Vows of abstinence are often broken, especially in todays atmosphere of growing peer pressure and the sexual influence of the media. Millions of young people continue to make the choice to engage in sexual intercourse each year. Withholding information that can preserve their health and save their lives is unfair, counterproductive, and immoral.
While abstaining from intercourse is the most effective way to avoid pregnancy and disease, fewer than 50% of young people are abstinent. When abstinence is presented as the only choice, students who have already rejected that choice are made to feel condemned and guilty. This stigmatization may harm them emotionally. They may become isolated and depressed.
Teaching young people that there is only one acceptable choice does not help them develop critical thinking skills, clarify their own values, and achieve empowerment all things one learns in college. Good education isn’t just for todayit’s for life. Very few people will choose life-long sexual abstinence. Young people need to acquire the information and decision-making skills that will guide them throughout their lives For the sake of their health and lives, these young people need and deserve straightforward information on sexuality this includes information on abstinence, but shouldnt be limited to this type of information. The goal should be to promote healthy and satisfying sexual relationships. Appropriate knowledge and skills will help young people to become sexually responsible and healthy adults when they are ready.
Young people need to know the potential consequences of sexual intercourse before heading to college. As adults, they need to make decisions based on facts and not conjecture. Every young person urgently needs accurate information about contraception, STDs, and unintended pregnancy. Consider the following:
Proponents of abstinence-only education assume that, if young people do not learn about contraception, they will not have sexual intercourse. We know this to be false. Today, highly effective methods of birth control are available, if one knows about them and has access to them. Many abstinence-only programs discuss modern methods of contraception only in terms of failure rates (often exaggerated). Thus, many of these programs keep young people in ignorance of the very facts that would encourage them to protect themselves when they eventually become sexually active. We shouldnt fool ourselves into thinking they wont eventually become sexually active. By age 18, about 71% of U.S. youth have had sexual intercourse. By the time young people reach age 20, about 80% of males and 76% of females have had sexual intercourse.
Sexual urges are healthy and normal for young people, and they need to learn how to handle those feelings in ways that are responsible and caring. Sexual intercourse is a natural behavior that most human beings practice at some time in their lives. When it is respectful, responsible and healthy, it can be a positive, life-enhancing experience.
College is often a more liberal environment than students are accustomed to and often sex is regarded more casually than in high school. This may limit the influence of abstinence programs in college. Thoughts on sex can change drastically from high school to college and remaining abstinent can be hard in an environment based on sex and alcohol. Sex may no longer be thought of in a momentous, life-altering way. The freedoms of college, including sexual freedom, might mean that abstinence is harder to sustain.
A recent study by the American Psychological Society (APS) found that over 60% of college students who had pledged virginity during their middle or high school years had broken their vow to remain abstinent until marriage. No program of any kind has ever shown success in convincing young people to postpone sex from age 17, when they typically first have intercourse, until marriage, which typically occurs at age 25 for women and 27 for men
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