Robert Rector provides data about the STD epidemic and details ten abstinence programs that have shown to be effective in curbing teen sexual activity. (Note Mr. Rector's point that several prominent organizations promoting "safe sex" [Planned Parenthood, NARAL, SEICUS] oppose abstinence education because a decrease in teen sexual activity threatens their funding.)
Abstinence education programs for youth have been proven to be effective in reducing
early sexual activity. Abstinence programs also can provide the foundation for personal
responsibility and enduring marital commitment.
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including incurable viral infections, have
reached epidemic proportions. Annually, 3 million teenagers contract STDs; STDs afflict
roughly one in four teens who are sexually active.
- Early sexual activity has multiple negative consequences for young people...young
people who become sexually active are not only vulnerable to STDs, but also likely to
experience emotional and psychological injuries, subsequent marital difficulties, and
involvement in other high-risk behaviors.
- Conventional "safe sex" programs (sometimes erroneously called "abstinence plus"
programs) place little or no emphasis on encouraging young people to abstain from early
sexual activity. Instead, such programs strongly promote condom use and implicitly
condone sexual activity among teens. Nearly all such programs contain material and
messages that would be alarming and offensive to the overwhelming majority of
- Despite claims to the contrary, there are 10 scientific evaluations showing that real
abstinence programs can be highly effective in reducing early sexual activity.
Consequences of Early Sexual Activity
- Young people who become sexually active enter an arena of high-risk behavior that
leads to physical and emotional damage. Each year, influenced by a combination of a
youthful assumption of invincibility and a lack of guidance (or misguidance and
misleading information), millions of teens ignore those risks and suffer the
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- In the 1960s, the beginning of the "sexual revolution," the dominant diseases related
to sexual activity were syphilis and gonorrhea. Today, there are more than 20 widespread
STDs, infecting an average of more than 15 million individuals each year.
- Two-thirds of all STDs occur in people who are 25 years of age or younger.
- Each year, 3 million teens contract an STD; overall, one-fourth of sexually active
teens have been afflicted.
- There is no cure for sexually transmitted viral diseases such as the human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and herpes, which take their toll on people throughout life.
Other common viral STDs are the Human Papillomavirus (HPV)--the leading viral STD, with
5.5 million cases reported each year...
- ...and the cause of nearly all cases of cervical cancer that kill approximately 4,800
women per year...
- ...and Chlamydia trachomatis, which is associated with pelvic inflammatory disease
that scars the fallopian tubes and is the fastest growing cause of infertility.
- ...condom use offers relatively little protection (from "zero" to "some") for herpes
and no protection from the deadly HPV.
- ...condoms failed to prevent the transmission of the HIV virus...between 15 percent
and 31 percent of the time...while condom use has increased over the past 25 years, the
spread of STDs has likewise continued to rise.
Emotional and Psychological Injury
- Young people who become sexually active are vulnerable to emotional and psychological
injury as well as to physical diseases. Many young girls report experiencing regret or
guilt after their initial sexual experience.
- Sexually active youth often live with anxiety about the possibility of an unwanted
pregnancy or contracting a devastating STD. Those who do become infected with a disease
suffer emotional as well as physical effects.
- Early sexual activity can negatively affect the ability of young people to form
stable and healthy relationships in a later marriage.
- Individuals who engage in premarital sexual activity are 50 percent more likely to
divorce later in life than those who do not.
Correlation Between Sexual Activity and Other High-Risk Behaviors
- Pediatrics magazine found that sexually active boys aged 12 through 16 are four times
more likely to smoke and six times more likely to use alcohol than are those who describe
themselves as virgins.
- Among girls in this same age cohort, those who are sexually active are seven times
more likely to smoke and 10 times more likely to use marijuana than are those who are
- Today, one child in three is born out of wedlock. Only 14 percent of these births
occur to women under the age of 18. Most occur to women in their early twenties.
- Nearly half of the mothers who give birth outside marriage are cohabiting with the
child's father at the time of birth. 15 These fathers, like the mothers, are typically in
their early twenties.
- Out-of-wedlock childbearing is not the result of teenagers' lack of knowledge about
birth control or a lack of availability of birth control...part of a crisis in the
relationships of young adult men and women.
- Out-of-wedlock childbearing, in most cases, occurs because young adult men and women are unable to develop committed, loving marital relationships. Abstinence programs... which focus on developing loving and enduring relationships and preparation for successful marriages, are an essential first step in reducing future levels of out-of-wedlock births.
The Silent Scandal: Promoting Teen Sex
With millions of dollars in sex-education programs at stake...groups that have
previously dominated the arena have taken action to block the growing movement to
- The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SEICUS),
Planned Parenthood, and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League
(NARAL), have been prime supporters of "safe-sex" programs for youth, which entail
guidance on the use of condoms and other means of contraception while giving a
condescending nod to abstinence.
- Many of these programs also implicitly encourage sexual activity among the youths
they teach. Guidelines developed by SEICUS, for example, include teaching children aged
five through eight about masturbation and teaching youths aged 9 through 12 about
alternative sexual activities such as mutual masturbation, "outercourse," and oral sex.
16 In addition, the SEICUS guidelines suggest informing youths aged 16 through 18 that
sexual activity can include bathing or showering together as well as oral, vaginal, or
anal intercourse, and that they can use erotic photographs, movies, or literature to
enhance their sexual fantasies when alone or with a partner. Not only do such activities
carry their own risks for youth, but they are also likely to increase the incidence of
- The actual content of most "abstinence plus" curricula would be alarming to most
parents. For example, such programs typically have condom use exercises in which middle
school students practice unrolling condoms on cucumbers or dildoes.
Effective Abstinence Programs
- There are currently 10 scientific evaluations (described below) that demonstrate the
effectiveness of abstinence programs in altering sexual behavior.
- Each of the programs evaluated is a real abstinence (or what is conventionally termed
an "abstinence only") program; that is, the program does not provide contraceptives or
encourage their use.
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