Have you ever wondered what the difference is between abstinence-only education and comprehensive sex education? Choosing an educational approach for teaching teenagers about sexual health can be a daunting decision, regardless of whether you are a parent or an educator. As times have changed over recent decades, so has the discussion around proper sex education — leading to much debate surrounding which approach is more appropriate in today’s society. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the key distinctions between these two approaches as well as their respective benefits and drawbacks. Read on to better understand these different methods so that you can make an informed decision going forward!
What is Abstinence Only Education?
Abstinence Only Education is an approach to sexuality education that advocates for refraining from sexual activity until marriage. Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy and STIs, but Abstinence Only Education does not provide any information about other forms of contraception or safe sex practices.
Advocates of Abstinence Only Education argue that teaching young people about things like condoms and birth control undermines their moral compass. Abstinence Only Education focuses primarily on establishing abstinence as the expected behavioral norm, rather than providing comprehensive information regarding alternative forms of contraception and/or protection. Abstinence Only instruction can range from highlighting biological consequences to promoting religious values and beliefs.
What is Comprehensive Sex Education?
- Comprehensive Sex Education is a holistic approach to teaching adolescents and young adults about relationships, gender, sexual practices, identity, and orientation. Comprehensive Sex Education goes beyond the basics of reproductive health by teaching topics like pleasure, communication, critical thinking, and consent.
- Comprehensive Sex Education takes a healthy approach to sexuality by discussing it openly in a safe space and providing information on how to communicate your needs while being respectful of others’ boundaries. Comprehensive Sex Education fosters an environment that emphasizes respect for all people regardless of their sex or gender identity.
- Comprehensive Sex Education also encourages honest conversations about difficult topics such as coercion and sexual violence to ensure that everyone has the knowledge they need to be safe.
Difference between Abstinence Only Education and Comprehensive Sex Education
Abstinence Only Education and Comprehensive Sex Education are two fundamentally different approaches to teaching youths about sexuality and sexual health.
- Abstinence Only Education, as the name implies, focuses solely on delaying sexual activity through the total abstention from sex until marriage.
- Comprehensive Sex Education, however, takes a more detailed approach by teaching students not only about abstinence but also pregnancy prevention methods, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and communication and decision-making.
Abstinence Only Education may be beneficial for those of religious or cultural backgrounds who prefer a more conservative stance towards sexuality; whereas Comprehensive Sex Education provides students with comprehensive resources to build informed decisions when it comes to their sexual health.
Abstinence only education does not work. It has been proven time and time again that abstinence only education leads to more teenage pregnancies and STDs. Comprehensive sex education, on the other hand, is effective in reducing both of these issues. It is important for teenagers to be taught about safe sex practices so that they can make informed decisions when they become sexually active. With comprehensive sex education, teens are less likely to engage in risky behaviors, and more likely to delay sexual activity until they are older and ready to handle the consequences.