August 10, 2004

August 10, 2004 | Special Report on Sex Education and Abstinence

Comprehensive Sex Education vs. Authentic Abstinence: A Study of Competing Curricula

Sexual activity in the teen years is linked to a number of important social concerns, including sexually-transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy, out-of-wedlock childbirth, and depression. Two basic approaches to these problems have emerged: The “safe sex” approach, which encourages teens to use contraception, and traditional abstinence education, which focuses on delaying the onset of sexual activity, teaches the harm of casual sexual activity, and encourages students to view sexuality as part of a process of developing intimacy and lifelong commitment.

In recent years, a new approach, termed “abstinence-plus” has played a prominent role in the public debate over sex education. This approach is presented as the middle ground between safe sex and abstinence.

Research conducted by Heritage Foundation analysts, however, reveals that traditional abstinence and abstinence-plus curricula differ radically in their contents and messages. It also revealed that the claim that abstinence-plus curricula place an emphasis on abstinence is false.

As this Heritage Foundation Report proves, "abstinence-plus" is simply not abstinence education.

Read theĀ full report:

Comprehensive Sex Education vs. Authentic Abstinence: A Study of Competing Curricula (1.6 MB PDF download) by Shannan Martin, Robert Rector, and Melissa G. Pardue

About the Author

Robert Rector
DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society