The Rebranding of Abstinence-Only Has Begun

When the National Abstinence Education Association gathered on Capitol Hill last month for their annual lobby day, the sense of fear in the room was palpable. Independent studies had definitively shown that abstinence-only programs are a failure, and their many millions of federal tax dollars were in serious jeopardy.

Faced with these facts, the NAEA and its allies discussed a new
strategy to continue its federal funding stream. Instead of abandoning
their demonization of condoms and adherence to social conservative
ideological over sound science, they would simply rebrand themselves as
curriculum that "wasn’t just about abstinence", but was all about
"holistic approaches" to "healthy lifestyle choices".

In other words, if they just put a new wrapper on their old product,
they might fool the federal government into continuing to give them
millions of dollars.

Earlier this month in Chattanooga, TN, we may have seen the first clear sign that this rebranding has begun.

WhykNOw, one of the most well-known and well-funded abstinence-only programs in the country, held a large public ceremony to celebrate their sudden change of name.
With the assistance of the PR company Maycreate Idea Group, WhykNOw is
now known as OnPoint, and they have "broadened its focus and taken on a
whole new look".

Why the big change? Well, read this and see if it sounds familiar:

As to the new direction for the group, in the tech and media-driven world of teenagers, smart
decision-making means making smart choices. It’s all about providing
teens with the tools and skills needed to successfully navigate life.

"The idea," said Lesley Scearce, executive director of OnPoint, "is
to get teens involved in new, positive directions that lead to a
healthier, more fulfilling life. Without a re-naming, re-branding and
re-positioning, this new direction wouldn’t have been possible. And
Maycreate Idea Group was the creative force behind it all.

The event was highlighted with a look at the new name, logo and
promotional materials created by Maycreate. The result is new graphics,
new colors, a new message and a new tag line-"Direction for life."

Yes, instead of touting abstinence, it is all about
teaching "healthy decision-making skills". Same garbage, different

And here is the "garbage", so to speak, within WhykNOw’s old curriculum, according to SEICUS:

Like many other abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, Why kNOw?
offers limited information about important topics in human sexuality
such as puberty, anatomy, and human reproduction, and no information
about sexual orientation or gender identity. WhykNOw? does contain
some detailed information about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs),
including HIV/AIDS, however, much of this information is outdated,
inaccurate, and misleading. In addition, the curriculum presents
information about condoms which is focused on exaggerated failure
rates, and contains almost no information about other forms of

Instead, WhykNOw? relies on negative messages, distorts information,
and presents biased views on gender, marriage, family structure, sexual
orientation, and pregnancy options. In addition, Why kNOw? teaches a
"traditionalism" that is patently religious in nature, and even goes so
far as to teach Bible stories as history. These biased and inaccurate
messages are clearly out of touch with the health needs of America ‘s

Is the curriculum going to change along with their name, logo, and talking points? Color me skeptical, for one.

The reason that this rebranding matters so much is that WhykNOw was not
just one large abstinence-only program. It is one of the largest
providers of abstinence-only curricula to public schools all over the
country. As WhykNOw rebrands itself and its curricula, it will provide
abstinence-only programs all over the country the opportunity to
rebrand themselves as something other than the social conservative
junk-science peddlers that they are.

This is why it is so important that we let our government officials
know about this rebranding rouse of abstinence-only organizations.
President Obama is currently finalizing his 2010 budget, and he will
decide whether we continue to fund these programs that have already
milked $1.5 billion from our federal government, with nothing to show
for it.
We must not let Obama and Congress fall for this silly rebranding scheme.

Please send President Obama this letter urging him to zero out abstinence-only programs.

And let your Congressperson know that whatever Obama ultimately decides on, we can’t afford to continue funding these programs.

This post first appeared on Amplify.

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  • invalid-0

    At first, I considered directing this comment toward Mr Sonka; but as I surmised that he would not listen anyhow, I decided instead to share for the benefit of those reading this post.

    I’d encourage all readers to research for themselves as they think upon the abstinence-centered vs. condom-centered debate. Ask good questions–for example:

    1. How much money do abstinence programs receive from the government, compared with the amount of money given to contraception-centered programs (such as those sponsored by SIECUS or Advocates for Youth)?

    2. What do studies show about the effectiveness of contraception-based programs?

    3. What is the difference between abstinence-centered and contraception-centered programs?

    You might be wise to dig around and see what you find!

    p.s. The answers to the above are as follows:

    1. In 2008, DHHS spent more than $600 million toward contraception-based programs, versus $177 million for abstinence-centered programs (

    2. The National Campaign for Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy performed a 20-year review and found no connection between studies of 112 contraception-based and any decline in teen pregnancy or STD rates (

    3. Both abstinence- and contraception-centered programs are about self-control; the first encourages young people to be self-controlled with their entire bodies, making decisions for their physical, emotional, and mental well-being, while the second encourages them to be self-controlled enough to use various contraceptive methods every time they engage in sexual activity, in hopes of avoiding physical consequences alone. Which, then, is truly more comprehensive?

  • invalid-0

    I’m with you. And so are more than 900 religious leaders from across the country who have endorsed the “Open Letter on Sex Education”. The Obama administration has already made the first ever reduction in abstinence-only programming, but there is a long way to go. There’s hope, but hope needs the support of all of us who care about sexual justice.

    Rev. Debra W. Haffner

  • jodi-jacobson

    Don’t you think you should check your own facts before you start sharing websites that dispute your own statements?


    The summary paragraph from the National Campaign, based on research conducted by Douglas Kirby, states the following:

    A growing number of sex education programs that support both abstinence
    and the use of contraception for sexually active teens have now shown positive effects in delaying
    first intercourse, improving contraceptive use, and preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted
    disease among teens, according to a new report released today by the National Campaign to
    Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Other interventions—several that mention sex little or
    not at all—have also shown effective results.

    Translation: Well-designed comprehensive programs—which, being comprehensive include by definition information on all aspects of safer sex, protective behaviors, abstinence and delay of sex–do indeed have positive outcomes.  Abstinence-only programs don’t.

    This and many other studies including those funded by the US Government show the same.

    Under the Bush Administration, no funding was allowed for contraception information or training in the $1.5 billion we spent on abstinence-only-until marriage programs.

    And please also compare apples to apples: Your citation of funding for contraceptive services and supplies is equally deceptive as you are comparing school-based programs with services for the entire general population, including all adults.

    But….I should not be surprised since evidence and facts have never been of great concern to proponents of abstinence-only programs, just ideology and funding of groups who seek to spread misinformation, stigma and discrimination.


    Jodi Jacobson

    • invalid-0

      People agree and disagree with regard to abstinenece- only programs as major funding is involved in these programes as well as PR suppourt and lobbying influences the masses!
      Social Media Marketing Services

  • invalid-0

    The second. The program that includes support for both abstinence and contraception.

  • invalid-0

    David R.,

    First of all, we must be attributing different meanings to words somehow. When I went to, as you suggested, everything I found emphasized that (1) abstinence-only programs do not work and (2) effective programs convey information about both contraception and abstinence. I certainly do not advocate that teenagers have sex just because everyone else is doing it (I’m 61 by the way, so I claim some emotional distance from the matter), but that brings me to my second point.

    Your implication that the only decision a teen can make for his/her physical, emotional, and mental well-being is to abstain from sex is so utterly divorced from reality, I am having trouble getting my mind around it. Sex can be, and should be, a positive contributor in all of those areas of well-being. If you do not recognize this, you must have had a very unfortunate adolescence.

    There are many legitimate reasons for a teen to abstain from sex (not emotionally ready, no suitable partner, no access to contraception/STD prevention, etc.), but the notion that there is something inherently beneficial about celibacy is not among them. Looking at celibacy alone is not a comprehensive approach at all, but looks at sexuality from only one angle, and gives a distorted view of it at that, as evidenced by your post here.

  • scott-swenson

    Holistic means “characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.” Abstinence-only programs by design EXCLUDE information about sexual health. So fascinating how the far-right abuses language so freely when in fact it is those who argue for comprehensive sex ed that promote holistic attitudes, personal responsibility and wise decisions when it comes to intimacy.

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • invalid-0

    Hi, Jodi–

    I absolutely agree, we ought to compare apples to apples. And so, the standards which abstinence-centered (AC) programs are currently held to ought to be applied also to contraceptive-based (CB) programs.

    The Kirby review published by the National Campaign found no school/curriculum-based CB programs that had decreased the number of teens who used condoms consistently–that is, every time they have sex–over a one-year period. This timeframe is the standard which studies consistently hold abstinence programs to. The Kirby review also found no school/curriculum-based CB program that had produced a decrease in teen pregnancy or STD rates for any period of time. Only 5 of the 112 programs were found to have increased some measure of non-consistent condom use for 12 months; there is no evidence that these reduced STDs.

    This is me simply trying to compare apples to apples. Consider the well-known Mathematica study which concluded that abstinence-centered programs do not work. Mathematica studied only four school-based abstinence programs, then measured the programs’ results 4 years later. If applying the same standard, no CB program has produced positive results after 4 years.

    Please feel free to share the other sources you mention, which conclude that AC programs are ineffective–but please only reference those studies which hold A-C programs to the same standards as studies preformed on CB programs. I would love to know if you can find any.

    In reference to the government funding, the author’s argument is that the government should not be funding AC education at all; it does not matter to Mr Sonka whether those funds would be used in schools or in general population services. However, the figures I gave are accurate.

    I’m not trying to pick a fight, honestly. Let’s just reason through these things together!

  • invalid-0

    Hey there, Gordon–thanks so much for even looking into the links I posted, I sincerely appreciate that! I left a reply above which explains why I linked to the Emerging Answers report–the data of this report, when applied to the same standards that abstinence programs are held to, actually states something very different than its general conclusion.

    I’m not trying to imply that abstinence is the only decision a teen can make for their whole-person health; I am saying it is the best. Abstinence is not perfection. Abstinence does not mean you will have a completely easy life, or ideal relationships forever and ever. But it is the best way to avoid both the physical consequences of pregnancy and STDs, and the emotional consequences (which, according to students I’ve known in the past, include depression, anger, jealousies, grief, shame) and mental consequences (sexual addictions, body image issues, etc.). I’m 31, so I can tell you these are very real among our young people.

    I agree wholeheartedly that sex should be a contributor to all areas of well-being, though. Sadly, removed from the context of whole-person loving commitment, it fails to do so. Commitment really makes an enormous difference–agree?

  • invalid-0

    I actually really love words, and labour to find the best possible word when I can. So I can gladly confess that I don’t abuse language, nor, I hope, abuse other people in my use of language.

    Your comment, Mr Swenson, leaves me wondering how many abstinence-based curricula you’ve personally read? I’ve read several (as well as several contraceptive-based materials), and found loads of sexual health information. They even include information about the effectiveness of various contraceptive methods–whether one likes those statistics or not.

    I agree with you on two points. Contraceptive-based sex ed does promote responsibility: it attempts to convince young people that they must be responsible enough to use contraceptive methods every time they have sex. That is certainly responsibility. They also promote wisdom: if someone purposes in their heart to engage in sexual activity, it is absolutely wiser for them to use those methods than not to use them. (But does that, therefore, make it the wisest decision? Obviously, I would answer no.)

    But I cannot agree on the third point. They are not holistic if they are only concerned with avoiding physical consequences, and not concerned with possible psychological, emotional, social, or moral/spiritual consequences as well. As one who has attended several HIV Prevention Conferences, I can sadly attest to the reality that all of these aspects of our human existence are ignored.

  • amanda-marcotte

    ….then why the need to pretend it’s something it’s not? 


    What’s especially weird about the people who tout abstinence-only is that they either never were teenagers or have no recollection of what it was like, or they’d know that when you wag your fingers, talk down to, and lie to kids, they tune you out.  The only thing abstinence-only is really effective at is giving kids an excuse to skip condoms.  


    Which I suspect is the point.

  • amanda-marcotte

    If you’re as exacting in your language as you claim to be, why are you using inexact, hedging words about "emotional consequences"?  You aren’t dealing with people who haven’t read the materials in question.  To be exact, there’s a great deal of promoting the idea that sexually active people, particularly women, are ruined and unlovable.  These are the so-called "emotional" consequences, and the reason you’re hedging and refusing to spell them out is they are demonstrably untrue.  95% of Americans have sex without being married at some point in their lives.  To suggest that the majority preference and behavior has created a nation of unloved, unmarriageable, depressed, housebound social invalids is just silly. 

  • amanda-marcotte

    These are public schools we’re talking about. They’re restricted by the Constitution from pushing religious dogma.  When you tell them, even by insinuation, that there are "spiritual" consequences (that god will punish you for having sex, in other words) for having sex, you are establishing religion in a straightforward manner.


    Again, the most comical thing about this is the fantasy that kids really listen to this nonsense.  There’s no reason to think that.  Most educational experts have known for a long time that you only get through to kids when you’re talking about something they’re interested in knowing, and they’re not interested in knowing that a bunch of uptight Christian right stalwarts think sex is dirty.  First of all, they know that.  It’s tautological.  


    But if you tell them contraception doesn’t work, well, they might hear that, even though it’s a lie.  Why?  Because getting contraception and using it responsibly is already too hard for kids, and they’ll be eager to have an excuse to skip it or use methods that only work in urban legends (pulling out, douching with Coke, smoking marijuana first—all ones I’ve heard people swear by, all ineffective).  If your goal is making sure teenagers get pregnant when they do have sex, then abstinence-only works really well.  

  • invalid-0

    …I have to say I agree with David R. I find it interesting that all of the other commentors have responded to this guy so vehemently. He has given us stats to review and has been respectful in his arguement. I think we can all debate this without the unkind comments and name calling. Ms. Marcotte, Mr. R mentioned spiritual/moral implications along with a list of other concerns. Some people are spiritual people–we should include them in this discussion. I would also like to disagree with your belief that all abstinence only educators are “finger wagging…uptight Christian right stalwarts.” First, I have a few friends who are abstinence educators and I would not decribe them that way at all. Secondly, Yikes! That is pretty judgemental. I also disagree with your view that those of us who are abstinence proponents “think sex is dirty.” Sex is great! We need be respectful of how we participate in it. I waited until I was married and so did my husband; and now we enjoy it in a healthy and faithful marriage. I can’t see what is so wrong with that.

  • invalid-0

    The best? I pertain that sex can be good for your health, and I am happy to have a great sex life with my partner. Abstinence until marriage would deny everyone this, and would only result in younger marriages. I’ve been having sex for 10 years and I am not disease ridden, I’ve never been pregnant, and the emotional consequences you list is just bullshit. You can experience all that w/out sex, and usually is not how you feel WITH it. (come on, sex and love feel just as good to a teenager as an adult!) Do you really think it makes sense to remain abstinent until your 30s or your whole life (like if you can’t get married) or to marry when your 17? Those all seem like miserable choices.

  • invalid-0

    I waited until I was married and so did my husband; and now we enjoy it in a healthy and faithful marriage. I can’t see what is so wrong with that.

    Nothing is wrong with YOU choosing to do that. But it IS wrong to lie to our kids to encourage them to do it your way. Your way is not the only or best way.

  • invalid-0


    All I can say to this is, God forbid that anyone should hear such a message as that! No one, whether they are sexually active or not, is unlovable or ruined. I know of one major abstinence-centered curriculum which has an entire lesson about that very truth: that regardless of a person’s choices, as a person they truly are priceless! Sexually active, abused, hurt, wounded, angry, or none of these; all are precious! Any teacher/program who teaches otherwise is wrong and wicked.

    The emotional consequences to which I refer, I may have listed in another comment: they include depression, shame, anger, hurt, regret, and more. These are not my answers but the words used by young people I have met over the past few years. They do also talk about the good feelings one experiences during sex; but they realistically admit that most sexual relationships end badly with more negative feelings.

    Granted, I’m using anecdotal evidence here; there are national surveys which confirm the same, but I’m not sure it would help to supply them here anyway. If we are going to be realistic and not live in a fantasy, as you rightly suggested elsewhere, then we have to deal with all of these outcomes of sexual activity; something which contraceptives do not protect from.

    p.s. Would you give the reference for your 95% statistic? I think that would be rather useful! Thanks!

  • invalid-0

    Sorry, David R., but you and I just have very different ideas about the rightful place of sexuality in human life. First of all, I do not agree that abstinence is the best way to avoid the negative consequences you mention. The best way to avoid unwanted pregnancy and STDs is to use birth control and condoms, although abstinence works too. As for the emotional and mental consequences, except for sexual addiction, I suspect these are as common among abstinent teens as among sexually active ones. Adolescence is not an easy time for anyone.

    You still don’t seem to get it that sex makes very positive, if largely intangible, contributions to life, and abstinence precludes them. I am sure most people would agree that sex with someone you really love is something really special, but that is not a reason to reject other experiences. Living and learning is part of growing up, and that applies to sexuality as well as to any other aspect of life.

    I don’t quite know what you mean by “whole-person loving commitment”, but I suspect it is a euphemism for abstinence until marriage. Having been married to the same woman for more than 40 years, I can certainly attest to the positive aspects of a committed relationship. Nonetheless, neither of us was a virgin when we got married, and I am completely certain that the sexual experience we brought to the marriage enriched it, rather than detracting from it.

  • invalid-0

    As a professional sex educator who has done research on the effects of a variety of sex ed curricula, I assure you there are no ‘contraceptive-based’ curricula out there. Nobody uses that term so I’m going to call a spade a spade on David R. attempting to name ‘comprehensive’ curricula (most of which do, in fact, encourage abstinence as the first, best choice) something they’re not.

    I can also tell you that ‘abstinence’ curricula encourage an overly legalistic perspective on what ‘is’ and ‘isn’t’ sex–consider the not at all uncommon phone call I received from a student not long ago:

    “I’m not sexually active, but…I performed oral sex on this guy over spring break…do I need to get tested?”

    Students are tricked into thinking that because they aren’t having vaginal sex, they aren’t at risk. Considering that more than 50% of genital herpes diagnoses in college students are acutally HSV-1 (oral herpes), there are an awful lot of college students who ‘aren’t having sex’ and are winding up with sexually transmitted infections. Abstinence education is on the hook for this.

  • invalid-0

    It’s great that you enjoy sex in marriage, and comprehensive science-based sex education people aren’t telling people to have sex before marriage, they are telling them how to have sex safely. One can enjoy sex and be safe when NOT married.

    Why must all people wait till marriage for sex?…people should be allowed to chose either or…wait for marriage, or have sex before marriage. What about gay people who can not get married in the majority of US states? Should they never have sex? Either way, people should know how to prevent STDs, HIV and pregnancy in marriage and while not married.

  • invalid-0

    I was referred to this site and continue to regret having clicked the link. What a nightmare this is. And I thought had a liberal agenda. WOW. Anyway, Amanda and Julie, I bet you two are a real hoot at the local “Women Power” rallies. Julie, what exactly is a pro sex educator? That was not in the list of degrees I was presented at Harvard (for the record I did not go there but simply was presented a list when I asked). Must be some sort of vocational specialty. Anyway, do you people (I like to use “you people” in this context when referring to people with no conviction and think that anything should go as we are just evolved monkeys floating around in the sea of life whose purpose is to tolerate everyone else) actually believe what you are writing? David R. is the only one that can back up what he says. He presents study/fact (which btw I would like to see your study Julie, I bet it is thorough… maybe as thorough as my study about which kind of beer is the best). How can one actually say “abstinence doesn’t work”? Absurd. Will everyone listen? Of course not. But you can’t say it doesn’t work. 100% effective 100% of the time. No need for a poll there. Pregnancy and STD’s (or STI’s in Julie’s case, infection doesn’t sound near as bad as disease, most likely a new age term) don’t jump across the table. Condoms on the other hand, not so much. They “kind of” work. They work some of the time. Maybe David R could help me with a stat on their effectiveness. Lastly, Julie, blame Abstinence programs for the college students outbreaks? Really? Do you actually believe that? Are they handing out Abstinence Education brochures in the nurses office? Nope, Condoms when I was there. Maybe you should do a better job. “Your” preferred program gets a lot more funding. Not doing a very good job no are you? And you are a “Pro”.
    One last thing, so what if a program uses stories from the Bible (which most likely is not the case unless it is a church curriculum)? Does that somehow negatively affect you? Has that infringed on your freedom of religion? Boo Hoo. For the record it’s God, not god.

  • invalid-0

    But you can’t say it doesn’t work. 100% effective 100% of the time.

    Well, yes, if you remain abstinent from any sexual activity forever, it’s effective. Is that what you’re proposing?

    No? Well, then, when people do start having sex, married or not, straight or gay, shouldn’t they know how to do it without getting pregnant or getting STDs?

    And saying they don’t work is a flat out lie. That is why most families in the US are not with 20 kids – it’s not because they don’t have sex!! It’s because they practice one the many available effective contraceptives.

  • invalid-0

    i could only skim your novella, drake. but, i read enough to know it’s ridiculous and your opinion is both fairly ignorant and based on YOUR religious beliefs. (“it’s God, not god” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!) i have only 2 responses to what i did read of your OPINION:

    1. is there not one conservative nut case out there smart enough to realize that “liberal agenda” is NOT an insult to liberals. i could just hear you spitting that term out with disgust. and gee, imagine that – a reproductive rights website being liberal???? no way!!!! really??!!!

    2. and is there not one conservative religious nut out there smart enough to understand that when intelligent adults say abstinence only doesn’t work, they don’t mean that women can still get pregnant having never had sex and men can still get women pregnant while still virgins. SHEESH!!!! i know this is complex, so let me try to dumb this down for you, drake: humans enjoy having sex. humans have always enjoyed having sex. since humans enjoy sex so much, expecting humans to remain 100% abstinent 100% of the time DOESN’T WORK.

    oh, i do have a 3rd thing i’d like to add: once again “you people” (and i like to use “you people” when speaking of people who base their opinions upon some “thing” that lives in the sky somewhere, possibly, and not on reality or scientific fact at all) show your beautiful true religious colors. it’s so very spiritual of you to have something against the concept of being tolerant of your fellow human beings. you, like most religious nuts, are sick. you really, truly are.

  • invalid-0

    Have we forgotten who the “people” are that we are talking about? Children, pre-teens and teenagers- not adults. These are children; the same young children who have to be awoken each morning to go to school; who are driven to school sometimes; have bedtimes; have curfews; who can’t drive (sometimes); can’t vote; can’t drink (legally). The same young children who are constantly seeking approval, acceptance, love and guidance from just about anyone and anywhere they can find it. And to think that these children are mature enough to handle a sexual relationship with each other is truly crazy. “Hey mom, I finished my calculis homework, Frank and I are going to be in the bedroom awhile….”. “Okay honey, make sure you use a condom- you do love him right????”. Really?? This is something we aspire for our children to do and experience while in middle and/or high school? And sure, if we tell them to practice safe sex, then they will. Why not encourage them to wait until they are older; until they are in a committed relationship; until they are ready to handle the consequences of their actions. Don’t we owe them that much? Shouldn’t we tell them they can do it instead of lowering the standard just because it is easier to handout condoms.

  • invalid-0

    “Independent studies had definitively shown that abstinence-only programs are a failure,” This is a fact. If you don’t believe it, look at the data and cost of providing care for teens whom have become pregnant (one or more times), have been treated for one or more STDs, or are infected with AIDS before they graduate high school. Federally funded programs that teach abstinence-only education are one sided and not cost effective. Furthermore, these programs do not allow teens enough information to make an educated decision about how they should respond to their natural desires and sexual awareness. Research supports teens make good decisions when they have fact-based, teen friendly information that allows them to approach their sexual awakenings well informed, support the development of a healthy sexual attitude, and promote sexual awareness that is best for their lifestyle, gay or straight. Abstinence-only education has its place; but healthy sexual education will present teens with useful information they can use without putting limits on the type or amount of knowledge they have available to use when they make their sexual decisions.

  • invalid-0

    Hi David – I’m just curious, is your last name Reardon?

  • invalid-0

    Teens have a right to comprehensive sex education, including birth control and information about protection from disease. Any less, is doing them an injustice!! Teenage hormones and young adult hormones are pretty powerful things. We have to be realistic and give teens the tools to protect themselves, should they make the majority decision to have sex! Abstinence only is unrealistic. That is the TRUTH!

    • invalid-0

      sex education should be started at school level and abstinence from sex should be a vital point in educating the kids.

      Morality of this subject is very vital in taking theses things forward.
      Social Media Marketing Services

  • joe-sonka
  • jodi-jacobson

    misleading use of words that is so rife in this debate and so counterproductive.


    No one–and I mean no one–in the reproductive and sexual health community advocates for children having sex.  The fundamental premise of comprehensive education programs is to delay sexual initiation as long as possible.  And the success of comprehensive programs in promoting delay of sexual debut in younger and older adolescents is well-documented.


    However, in no country for which I have seen data do even the majority of people remain abstinent until marriage.  The opposite is true: the majority of adolescents and young adults initiate sexual activity sometime between the ages of 15 and 19.  As age at marriage rises in most societies–which actually is a good thing especially for girls–the gap between first sexual initiation and marriage grows (which sidesteps the fact that none everyone can or wants to get married).


    Our goals have to be twofold. One is to delay sexual intiation for as long as possible.  The other is to make sure that on that day any given individual becomes sexually active, they have been equipped to do so safely, only in completely consensual circumstances (and there is a lot inherent in this) and only because they are ready to do so.

    These are facts.  They may scare you.  You may not like them.  But we have to deal with facts.  Scaring people about sex and leaving them ignorant does not result either in delay in sexual activity nor in safer sexual activity once it is engaged.  Comprehensive programs are designed to do both.  There is no conflict–whatsoever–in a comprehensive program for those individuals who choose to remain abstinent until marriage, and even in this case people need to know how to make sure their relationships are based on good communication, self-respect, mutual consent and the ability to effectively prevent pregnancy if that is a desired outcome.


    Comprehensive programs teach abstinence and delay of sexual activity.  I am not sure what the folks writing here to argue against these don’t get.


    Jodi Jacobson



  • invalid-0

    Wow, this is very interesting. I would say that I use to support comprehensive sex education until I found out what it was and some of the things they teach. Did anyone see Oparah with Dr. Laura Breenman (?) who was detailing what compressive education is- that was an eye opener both from the kids and her thoughts on what parents need to do. She asked the kids about staying together (they were 14 I believe) and they answered they would be together for a long time. She then asked the boy what a long time was and he said six months.. that floored his girlfriend who thought a long time was forever. The second thing was stating that parents of girls should think of buying their daughters vibrators and their sons porn while they are in high school… I was shocked and so I even checked out seicus guidelines – they are shocking what is written in their especially towards the end.

    Why is it in this country these kids, can’t vote, can’t buy beer or cigarettes, join the Army or drive until a certain age – but they can have sex when ever?

  • invalid-0

    Wow, this is very interesting. I would say that I use to support comprehensive sex education until I found out what it was and some of the things they teach. Did anyone see Oparah with Dr. Laura Breenman (?) who was detailing what compressive education is- that was an eye opener both from the kids and her thoughts on what parents need to do. She asked the kids about staying together (they were 14 I believe) and they answered they would be together for a long time. She then asked the boy what a long time was and he said six months.. that floored his girlfriend who thought a long time was forever. The second thing was stating that parents of girls should think of buying their daughters vibrators and their sons porn while they are in high school… I was shocked and so I even checked out seicus guidelines – they are shocking what is written in their especially towards the end.

    Why is it in this country these kids, can’t vote, can’t buy beer or cigarettes, join the Army or drive until a certain age – but they can have sex when ever?

  • invalid-0

    You should include a warning, Joe. There’s a special place in hell for people who set about to ‘prove’ that pregnant rape and incest victims are damaged by abortion and should be forced to carry their rapist’s child to term for their own good. I’ll be slightly sick to my stomach all day.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Hi Parker,


    I’d love to have you back up your statement by posting the exact langauge you have "found" in SIECUS guidelines to which you refer.


    Two things about your points.  Good comprehensive sex ed uncovers exactly  the kinds of things that you have suggested were broadcast on Oprah….e.g. that girls and boys are conditioned to think differently about sex, sexuality, and relationships.  Only by talking about these things, and by ensuring that both boys and girls (men and women) "hear" each other, can they understand for both sides the real meaning of consent, mutuality, and relationships.  It is a good thing to know what teens are thinking and how they think differently…if we don’t know that, we can’t approach that set of issues effectively.  Having these two that you cite talk to each might actually encourage one or both to rethink having sex at all at their ages–whatever they were–or ensure that both were making decisions based on their joint, clear understanding of what the relationship is/was.  If I am in a relationship with someone–friendship, romantic, business–i value clarity and communication to make sure that we are on the same page or that the same words mean the same things, or different things, so that i know where i stand.  why is that a bad thing as you make it out to be here?


    Moreover, I will wait to see the language you state you found on the SIECUS site.  If it exists, I am betting it talks about having honest conversations with kids about masturbation (horrors!!!), including as a way to get to know their own bodies and as a means of delaying sexual activity.  or are you grossed out by the idea of a teenager touching themselves?  All kids do.  it’s normal, it’s healthy, and there is no shame unless you place it there.  But…like I said, I’ll look forward to having you post the reference materials you have cited.


    Thanks!  Jodi Jacobson

  • invalid-0

    Abstinence is a great idea but in the real world where sex is promoted on the radio tv and movies and teens can’t get away from it teaching abstinence will never work. Just a little unsure as to degree science has in preventing teen pregnancies other than abortion. we simply need to educate the consequences of sex and promote a sense of self worth.

  • invalid-0

    The latest news that really disturbed me is that abstinence only education promotes the “pull-out” method of contraception. Yes, it’s better than nothing and really suits to different religious groups. But I wonder when do we get the reasonable and comprehensive sex ed? If I had at least one dollar for every baby who was conceived with the “withdrawal” method, I would be a millionaire!