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Do you think abstinence education should be taught in public schools?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on June 25, 2008

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Photo of Sarah Roenfeldt

“No, I don’t. I think kids are naturally going to be more likely to try anything that adults shy away from talking to them about. They need to learn as much as possible so that they understand the risks and consequences.”

Photo of Tom Girard

“I would say yes, but I think they should touch on both sides of the issue. If it doesn’t work for them, they need to know about the alternatives.”

Photo of Mary Moss

“I think abstinence can be a good thing, and it’s definitely a conversation that needs to be going on in schools. I think it should be an element of the sexual education program, but I don’t support any religious agenda being involved.”

Photo of Jasper Krueger

“No, I don’t think so. It’s just not an honest or reasonable expectation.”

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Kat Christian 8 years, 1 month ago

If the school of going to teach abstinance then you might as well have the parents band TV, magazines and don't let them walk by the GAP. Too many commericials, magezine ADs, store displays, etc. sell their products with sexual overtones. You can not walk through our society anymore without having it crammed down your throat. Teens are naturally feeling compelled (if you know what I mean). Its like their love of sugar - they get exposed to these suggestions (like the cereal Ads) they are going to want it. Then they try it their addicted. Additionally, peer pressure add to this also. We need to turn the tables and make abstinence and responsible sex the fad. Yes, expose them to the choice, but let them also know the alternatives and to understand the consequences - which goes hand in hand with a parenting program as well. Also, parents should be involved in this. they need to also take a sex education class becuase most of them I bet haven't a clue about how to abstain or what responsible sex really means and that is part of the reason they don't teach their own kids about responsible sex. Kids are usually taught the basis, but not the psychology of sex and how one feels to compell them to want sex. These same feelings are what kids need to understand in order to know how to abstain = not so much the act itself, but the feeling of holding back. You can tell a kid until you're blue in the face but if they don't understand the gut reasoning about something they may never get it. Also open communication (can't stress this enough) with your child is the most important and the most difficult thing to maintain throughout their years of growing up. But it is the most important.

fu7il3 8 years, 1 month ago

Abstinance isn't only a value system issue. It's a health issue as well. It is the only way to totally eliminate the possibility of pregnancy or STD's, both of which can have a profound, lasting effect on a person's life.That being said, it should be taught along with safe sex practices.

canyon_wren 8 years, 1 month ago

Really good comments so far. I think kids need to be aware that abstinence is a choice and probably a very wise one, but they need more information than that, certainly. As sunshine points out, trying to teach abstinence in school when the society is permeated with a preoccupation with sex is an exercise in futility--like trying to dip water out of the ocean. A lot more can be accomplished by starting early to teach children to think for themselves and not to trust the values of their peers so readily--otherwise, it is a case of the blind leading the blind, and "both will fall into a pit," as the saying goes. A good example set by parents is probably more effective!

sunflower_sue 8 years, 1 month ago

Unless sex ed is on the state assessment tests, the school doesn't really care if it gets taught or not. I would not trust any school district to teach my child about sex, or lack thereof. I wouldn't want it to be the only option they were proponing.

Ceallach 8 years, 1 month ago

I can see how it would be beneficial for a nudist to be the master of his/her own domain.

Confrontation 8 years, 1 month ago

Just google some images of "perianal warts," show them to your kids, and explain that condoms don't guarantee protection against herpes, HPV, pregnancy, etc. That'll make them reconsider their actions faster than any abstinence-only/mental health repercussion psychobabble.

Ceallach 8 years, 1 month ago

I can see you haven't met my children :)

craigers 8 years, 1 month ago

I'm with Ceallach on this.I prefer aged cheddar TOB. Preferably 2-10 years aged has some great flavor!!! How do you cut the cheese? Now that could be controversial...

canyon_wren 8 years, 1 month ago

What's next? There are just the three (historically) taboo subjects--sex, religion and politics--and we ae ALL sick of politics! Cheese does sound like an acceptable substitute!

Flap Doodle 8 years, 1 month ago

Cheese loves us and wants us to be happy.

sgtwolverine 8 years, 1 month ago

Wow. First religion, now sex. They're really going for controversial topics here. What could be next?

acg 8 years, 1 month ago

I don't think they should teach abstinence only but they should definitely put it out there as a very good choice to make. I'm not at all a prude, I know kids are going to have sex, but I surely wish more of them would wait and think harder about their decision.

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 1 month ago

Of course abstinence should be taught as the best way to prevent STDs and pregnancy. However, without rigorous sex education along side, abstinence education only does more harm than good.Both abstinence and sex education should be taught.

jonas 8 years, 1 month ago

This is a rather overly simplified question. Abstinence education should be taught in schools. Abstinence-Only education should not be taught in schools.

ksuone1 8 years, 1 month ago

A man's morality will dictated his theology and or philosophy ......the truth should be taught and the principles taught by abstinence could work for those that are indeed aware of the moral laws in force. These have deterred unwanted pregnancy and allot of the STD's that are out there which are more of a possibility and more damaging then the plain how to sex ed. Condoms fail at an alarming rate.. So really if it is my kid they will indeed know the facts not the "cool" excuses of self gratifying self serving wham blabbers who make fun of anything that stand against plain common sense ......Just say no .....because there are cost involved that may last for a lifetime.....or longer.....believe it or not will still be held accountable.....someday....absolutely .....there are it or not....

coolmom 8 years, 1 month ago

i think parents should teacher their own children however knowing that that doesnt always happen i think that absinence should be a part of the education and information kids recieve about sex and sex related topics.

Victoria 8 years, 1 month ago

Students need to understand how the human body functions and the reproduction system is part of that. Just as one learns how the heart and circulatory system functions, one should know how reproduction occurs, parts involved and how it happens. To not do so would be similar to teaching biology but not discussing the brain and nervous system.As far as teaching abstinence, that is a value system issue. It is debateable as to whose values we are going to teach the students, who are captive audiences. That is a whole different issue.

hockmano 8 years, 1 month ago

In this day and age, and with all the sexually explicit material on television and the internet, abstinence should be discussed in school, as well as disease prevention, sexual harassment, and how to protect yourself from all the sexual deviates of the world. All parents should educate their children and if the schools want to jump on the bandwagon so be it.Teach them prevention at home first!

KSManimal 8 years, 1 month ago

Abstinence only sex education is about as effective as "just hold it" potty training.What the abstinence only folks fail to understand is that sex education isn't just for teen years. Sex education, like any education, is providing students with the knowledge and skills they need to function effectively in society....well into their adult years.Abstinence only sex education is akin to refusing to teach teens about personal money management because we don't want them to have credit cards or checking accounts as teenagers.Stupid.

sunflower_sue 8 years, 1 month ago

I want them to stop showing "that film" to young children in which the pubescent person sprouts hair like a chia pet. It left my little one permanently scarred. It's just mean-spirited and onery to scare children like that!Don't ask me about my cheese preferences. That's none of your business!

Satirical 8 years, 1 month ago

I think we are seriously underestimating the cognitive ability of many teenagers. While they do not have the reasoning skills of an adult they are capable of making choices, such as to have sex or not have sex. After all if they couldn't make a choice, then they couldn't choose whether to have safe sex. I think abstinence should be strongly encouraged and routinely suggested in any Health class; we shouldn't treat them as a pile of raging hormones that have no control over their own actions. However, I also think it is prudent to discuss brith control and safe sex because realistically some kids will choose to have sex and they should have the information they need.

sunflower_sue 8 years, 1 month ago

An unforgettable quote from a good friend of mine delivered completely deadpan:"I've resigned myself to being a young grandmother...I just hope one of your children isn't involved."

Ceallach 8 years, 1 month ago

Yes, it should be included in the educational program. The question does not ask about abstinence only, it asks whether abstinence should be taught.

kusp8 8 years, 1 month ago

Teaching abstinence ONLY is a horrible idea. However, teaching abstinece as A PART of general sex education is a good idea. When I went to high school they showed a slide show of STDs and what each one of them look like. Unfortunately, wink, I was at a tennis tournament and I didn't want to waste the wonderful teacher's time by reshowing it just for me.

Ceallach 8 years, 1 month ago

I hold myself responsible . . . I thought it was NyQuil :\

Bone777 8 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, along with free salt-peter and chastity belt check-out.

stuckinthemiddle 8 years, 1 month ago

"math, reading, writing, science, history, social studies, geography and the basics to get into college"the local public schools do an excellent job of teaching all of these subjects and have an excellent record of preparing students for college...of course... the students have to want to learn these subjects and prepare themselves for college... and... if they don't, it's not the teacher's job to motivate them... the motivation falls on the individual student... and of course, the parents... if it is important to for teaching abstinence: kids can be taught about- abstinence: but in the end they will weigh the pros and cons: and do what they will do:

dajudge 8 years, 1 month ago

Liederkrantz cheese used to be really good.Now it is extinct, since about 1985.Abstinence works. But it is extinct also.Except for us old marrieds.

canyon_wren 8 years, 1 month ago

BTW--those were really good points you made, agnostick! Lots of thoughtful comments this morning--better than just the ordinary harangue about religion vs. sex as if they were at opposite poles!

OnlyTheOne 8 years, 1 month ago

Ha ha ha hardy har har.At what class level? Anytime after Kindergarden now and it'd be too late!

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

Parents preach abstinence from day one and it's at the top of a Planned Parenthood list of other means in which to prevent pregnancy.Explicit and comprehensive sex education is valuable and would be a display of not living in a pretend world.

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