Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs: Ineffective, Unethical, and Poor Public Health

The vast majority of Americans support abstinence from sexual activity for school-age children, especially younger adolescents. Yet, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, currently being taught in many schools, are at odds with what most Americans want schools to teach. The public supports a broad sex education curriculum that stresses abstinence as the best way to avoid unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) but that also conveys complete and medically accurate information about contraception and condoms.1
Despite these strong public preferences, the federal government has invested more than $1.5 billion in state and federal dollars since 1997 into prescriptive abstinence-only and abstinenceonly-until-marriage programs2 that are, at best, ineffective and wasteful and, at worst, misleading and dangerous to America’s youth

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