Programs Help Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Article excerpt

Approximately 1 million teenage girls become pregnant each year in the United States. But two different programs with supporters in opposite camps - abstinence and comprehensive sexuality education - may be helping decrease those numbers.

The 1996 welfare reform package contained $50 million to implement abstinence programs that focus on the importance of abstinence from sexual intercourse until marriage. Eighteen states did so in 1998. Mississippi's HB 1304 makes abstinence education the state standard for any sex-related education taught in the public schools and prohibits any demonstration of condoms or contraceptives. SR 158 in Pennsylvania recognized the week of May 3-9 as Chastity Awareness Week and encouraged participation in chastity day presentations for schools and youth groups. South Carolina's HB 4700 requires all pregnancy prevention initiatives funded by the county government to emphasize premarital sexual abstinence.

Many opponents of abstinence education, who endorse comprehensive sex education, believe that even the best programs are useless in promoting abstinence among those who are already sexually active. They suggest creation of comprehensive sex education programs that provide information on reproductive choice, sexual behavior and sexually transmitted diseases. …