Doctors Respond: Are you for or against abstinence-only education?

Sex education vs abstinence only education

While many people believe that abstinence is the best policy, others argue that teen pregnancy rates are higher when only abstinence is taught. We asked American doctors on SERMO about their thoughts on sex education. Should it be a comprehensive lesson or do you think abstinence should be taught?

Of the 550+ doctors who responded to our poll asking, “Abstinence-only education: For or Against?” 73% were against…

“Teaching abstinence is a legitimate undertaking. Teaching the consequences of sexual behavior is also good. Teaching about birth control and disease prevention is controversial, I believe it can be done in such a way as to explicitly discourage promiscuous and dangerous sexual behavior.” – A family medicine doctor

“People gonna have sex. Teach how to NOT get pregnant. Teach how to NOT get STIs. If you know how, teach how to NOT make others feel betrayed or used. Teach HOW to be strong and make good choices.” – A general surgeon

“Knowledge is power. The more, the better!” – A pediatrician

“It’s an easy question – No, because it doesn’t work. Laws and education structures that ignore human biology and behavior in favor of ideologies never work.  Countries that have explicit sexual education programs and ready availability of low cost or free contraceptives have much lower unplanned and teen pregnancy rates.  That being said, I also believe that part of a comprehensive sex education course should include discussions about love, and responsibility, and psychological needs and why ’hooking up’ and random sexual encounters are dangerous to our psyche as well as our bodies. Encouraging young people to be very choosy and discriminating by boosting their self-esteem is key. Many young women confuse sex with love. We need to be a lot more open about these kind of discussions.” – An OB/GYN

Of course, being “against” abstinence-only education does leave room for identifying the merits of discussing abstinence as a sure-fire way to avoid pregnancy and STI’s…

“Teach sex education… Recommend abstaining. It does not have to be an either/or situation.” – An internist

“One needs to be practical. However it is not a bad idea to also teach the idea that it is hard to get it dirty when you don’t take it out of the wrapper.” – Pain medicine doctor

“Abstinence is one thing that should be taught mainly by the family.” – Ophthalmologist

“Ignorance is not bliss here. It should be mentioned however as 100% effective, as opposed to other almost as good methods.” – An internist

Are you a physician? Login or join SERMO to let your voice be heard and share your opinion on this topic.

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