The omnibus government spending bill that was signed into law two weeks ago did away with funding for abstinence-only sex ed programs.
These programs have long been criticized for effectively denying young people important information regarding sex, available forms of contraception, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted illness.
Several studies have suggested abstinence only programs are not simply infective but dangerous.
This summer, researches from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their analysis of national data spanning five years between 2002 and 2007, which found elementary and middle school students who received abstinence instruction were just as likely to have sex in the following year as students who did not get such instruction.
What’s more, following an increase in abstinence-only programs, birth rates among teens were on the rise, with an estimated 16,000 pregnancies happening among girls between 10 and 14 in 2004. One third of the teens surveyed had never learned about the different available methods of birth control before the age of 18.
Between 2003 and 2004, about one-quarter of girls between 15 and 19, and 45 percent of women between 20 and 24 had a human papillomavirus infection. In 2006, one million young people were reported to have chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis. That same year, most new diagnoses of HIV were among men and women between 20 and 24.
The nation’s progress in reducing abortions, on the other hand, has been noted in states that are committed to providing young people with sex ed.
This new $114 million initiative will be administered by a spanking new entity at the Department of Health and Human Services: the Office of Adolescent Health.
Ignorance is not strength. Glad you’re getting with the program, DC.
Image from Rolling Stone, featuring our go-to promiscuous teens, the cast of Gossip Girl. Information from The New York Times.