‘Abstinence only’ programs lost on today’s teens

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, but the Bush administration should realize a lot of ignorance is much worse.

A new government Web site for parents promotes “abstinence only” sex education. The site, www.4parents.gov, has drawn criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union for dictating values and from gay right groups for referring to sexual orientation as an “alternative lifestyle.”

This site is only one instance in the overall scheme of President Bush’s unfortunate plan for abstinence-only sex ed. In the past five years, President George W. Bush has more than doubled funding for abstinence programs, according to an article on the Reuters wire. Last month, Bush proposed increasing funding for abstinence programs by $39 million to $206 million. This amount would increase to $270 million by 2008. That is an astounding amount of money for a dubious cause.

While it is true that not having sex is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections, it is also true that sexually-active teenagers without information about contraceptives are at an increased risk for those effects.

Furthermore, it doesn’t seem as though abstinence-only programs are even effective. For example, a study released in February showed that students in 29 Texas high schools became increasingly sexually active despite being enrolled in courses emphasizing abstinence, according to an article on MSNBC.com. The study was conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University.

Bush needs to put money toward sex education that is inclusive and provides information about different ways of preventing infections and pregnancies.

The best decisions are the ones that are the most informed.