Teen pregnancy has become an epidemic in the United States alone.
The United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the industrialized world. Each year, one out of three teenage girls becomes pregnant. Although teen pregnancy rates have dropped from 61.8 births per 1,000 in 1991 to 41.7 births per 1,000 in 2003, pregnancy rates in the U.S. still are declining at slower rates than those in other developed nations (Block et al., 2005. para, 1).
These sobering statistics are the basis of an ongoing battle: the fight for abstinence-only versus comprehensive sex education. Although proponents of both types of sex education aim to reduce teenage pregnancy and STIs, their approaches vary greatly (Block et al., 2005). Abstinence-only advocates believe that sex before marriage is immoral and harmful; they promote abstinence as the sole option to help young people avoid STIs and teen pregnancy, mentioning condoms and contraceptives only in terms of their failure rates (Block et al., 2005). Abstinence advocates feel that "Americans are not suffering from a lack of knowledge about sex but an absence of values” (Block et al., 2005).
Although comprehensive sex education programs have greater recorded success in delaying the age of sexual initiation and in reducing teenage pregnancy, abstinence-only programs have gained increasing political support and federal funding over the past twenty years (Block et al, 2005). According to Debra Viadero (2010), “The researchers note that progress in curbing teen pregnancy rate began to stall at the same time that sex education programs began to focus on teaching abstinence as the only means of birth control and that teenagers’ use of contraceptives began to decline. At the same time abstinence-only programs believe that the programs that they offer have helped prevent teen pregnancy more than other teen pregnancy prevention programs that have been developed.
Debates have been ongoing on what type of program is the most effective, which programs are too explicit, and what curriculum should be included in these programs. There have been several programs that have been developed to educate our adolescents on teen pregnancy and prevention. Programs have been implemented in schools, government funding has been provided for prevention programs, and television shows have focused on the struggles of becoming a teen parent. Teen prevention programs focus on teen pregnancy prevention, but contain different curriculum to educate adolescent. Some programs focus on abstinence-only, sexual behavior, parent-adolescent communication, contraceptive use, the outcome of becoming a teen parent, and there are some more precise programs that focus on long term outcomes with adolescents that start at early as the age of ten years old all the way up to high school.
Abstinence-only programs have been the main front for the debate when it comes to prevention programs. ...