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

Report Education

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

August 10, 2004 1 min read Download Report

Contributors: Shannan Martin and Robert Rector

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 the 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

Authors

Shannan Martin

Robert Rector
Robert Rector

Senior Research Fellow