Abstinence-only sexuality education has been ineffective in reducing teen pregnancy
and sexually transmitted infections (STI) in the U.S., which has the highest
adolescent STI and pregnancy rates of all the developed nations.
It is clear that contraceptive use is a greater indicator for teen pregnancy rates than
sexual activity itself. The average age at which people first engage in sexual behavior
is the same in the U.S. as all other countries of the world, yet American teen
pregnancy is a prevailing issue. The United States approaches extramarital sexuality
from a well-intended moral standpoint: Its history describessexuality as a moral
issue and labelscontraception information "obscene."
In contrast with the moral approach of the U.S., the Netherlands, a developed
country with low teen pregnancy and STI rates, addresses teen sexual health and
safety by integrating sexual health topics into many other school subjects, as well as
answering theirstudents’questions with truthful information.
Comprehensive sexuality education, or health instruction that includes pregnancy
prevention methods beyond abstinence, became increasingly common in the U.S.
between the 1970s—with the rise of STIs and AIDS—and1995, when the Adolescent
Family Life Act (AFLA) was instated. The AFLA, now replaced by the Pregnancy
Assistance Fund, provides grants to organizations that strictly adhere to an
While no studies show abstinence-only education to be effective, the American
Psychological Association, the majority of parents, teachers and students all express
a desire for more comprehensive sexuality education in schools. This report
advocates that the AFLA be overturned and a new policy be written that creates
incentive for teaching comprehensive sexuality education in schools.