A recent Barna Group survey finds that more than two-thirds of Americans think that just teaching teens how to avoid pregnancy isn't enough – that they should also learn about all the possible consequences of sex.
The survey, conducted in July, shows 68 percent of Americans think the Obama administration's Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program – sometimes called "comprehensive sex education" – focuses solely on pregnancy prevention and falls short in teaching high school students about sexual relationships. That number is even higher (72%) when it comes to teaching students in middle school about such relationships.
Valerie Huber of Ascend, formerly known as the National Abstinence Education Association, describes the current focus on pregnancy prevention as "very minimalistic" and "not at all what parents have in mind for a holistic discussion of this."
"But even more important," she adds in a press release, "this short-sighted emphasis disregards the essential skills youth must gain as adolescents in order to give them the best opportunities to thrive into adulthood."
In contrast, Huber argues that the skills teens gain in a Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) program – which is abstinence-based – not only help them wait for sex, but also give them the tools to prioritize their education, build healthy relationships, and avoid sexual assault by respecting and valuing others.
The Ascend president says there's no more important time than now for parents to contact their legislators to urge them to support giving as much funding for abstinence education as is being allocated for the pregnancy-avoidance approach.
"Because of there being so many things up in the air, particularly in the House – which is where all spending bills begin – [it's time] for them to make a quick call to their member of Congress," she urges.
Huber points out that under current federal policy, only $1 is budgeted for abstinence education for every $24 given to the typical pregnancy-prevention sex-ed programs.