Abstinence-only education is a hazard to our children. Studies have shown that teen pregnancy rates are the highest in states (New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Mississippi, etc) where abstinence-only sex education is taught. And lowest in states where safe-sex education is taught (New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota). Instead of teaching our children to abstain from sex all together and to fear it, the US should encourage safe sexual practices that promote the use of condoms and birth control. Ignoring the fact that our kids will engage in sexual activity regardless of what they are told is not a healthy perspective to maintain. Instead, the US should ban abstinence-only programs in US public schools and reform the sexual education curriculum.
Response to Petition
By Howard Koh
Thank you for signing the petition "Abolish Abstinence-Only Education From US Public Schools."
We agree that it's important to give young people the tools they need to make healthy and responsible decisions and prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The Obama Administration is committed to supporting medically accurate, age-appropriate, and effective programs to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funds both local community organizations and states to implement a wide range of program models, including comprehensive sex education and abstinence education, as well as HIV/STI prevention and youth development interventions.
Effective prevention programs can be found both in schools and in community organizations that serve youth, including faith-based institutions, community health organizations, and youth development organizations. Because different communities have varying needs, it is important to identify a range of effective program approaches from which states and local organizations can choose to best serve their community. That is why the Obama Administration seeks to document effective prevention programs based on rigorous research standards and prioritizes funding to programs that meet a high standard of effectiveness. Detailed information on the technical approach and criteria used to conduct the review is available here (PDF).
Since fiscal year 2010, two federal grant programs, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and the Personal Responsibility and Education Program, funded under the Affordable Care Act, have provided funding to community organizations and states for teen pregnancy prevention. The majority of the funds support the implementation of teen pregnancy prevention programs that have been found effective. The remainder of the funds supports the implementation and rigorous testing of promising approaches in order to continue to expand the number of evidence-based programs available.
Congress has also provided mandatory federal funding for fiscal years 2010 through 2014 to the Title V, Section 510 State Abstinence Education program in which states are encouraged to consider evidence-based abstinence program models when designing their programs.
Finally, HHS funds family planning services for millions of low- and moderate-income women and men through direct grants to states and community organizations and through the Medicaid program. Access to family planning is a critical component of reducing unintended pregnancy and reducing sexually transmitted infections.
Working together with states, health care providers, schools, and community and faith-based organizations, we are committed to providing effective programs to help meet these needs.
Howard Koh is Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services