Comprehensive Abstinence

, Richard Thompson, Leave a comment

In a report put out by this month by majority staff of the U. S. House of Representatives’ Committee of Energy and Commerce, Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) has been lauded as the best approach to avoiding teenage pregnancy.

According to the report, “CSE [Comprehensive Sex Education ] has failed to lower rates of teenage pregnancy because it assumes that preteens and teens are fully capable of making decisions without adequate guidance.” It teaches that contraception is the most effective way to avoid teen pregnancy, while ignoring the moral ramifications by claiming that abstinence before marriage is unrealistic.

Nevertheless, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has allotted $200 million to fund 31 CSE programs. One such program is the Aban Aya Youth Program, which targets children in African-American community. The report stated that “the biggest problem with the program is its design, which falls beyond the scope of evaluation. The median age of children in this study was 10.8 years.” In addition to the problem of age-appropriateness, the program relied on self-reporting methods that were generally ineffective. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has continue to provide support for programs such as this without considering any alternatives.      

The SRA method is the better option for dealing with teen pregnancy prevention because it teaches both teens and their parents how to manage the risks, such as reckless driving and underage drinking, which are most prevalent among those who engage in sexual activity. The report offered proof that those who have a strong relationship with their parents are less likely to participate in high risk situations, citing a poll in which “nearly half [of teens aged 12-19] reported that parents had the most influence on their decisions about sex.”

By strengthening the relationship between parent and child, SRA helps to promote the teen’s sense of genuine self-esteem. The child is given the confidence to deal with societal pressures and therefore is encouraged to practice abstinence rather than rely on contraception.

HHS needs to realize what works and what does not work when it comes to teenage pregnancy prevention. Millions of dollars are being put towards CSE programs that are doing nothing to curb sexual risk. It is time to invest in the SRA method as it shows great potential and offers hopeful results.

Richard Thompson is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.

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