Abstinence-only ed wastes tax payer money

President Bush’s 2008 budget proposal is giving an extra $28 million to an interesting cause.

We’ll give you a hint, it’s not for national security, higher education or social welfare programs. No, Bush wants faith-based initiatives that promote abstinence to receive a nice, big extra chunk of change.

This puts the total amount of money spent annually on such programs to $191 million. That seems a little excessive to us. Bush has continually given a lot of money to faith-based programs (which doesn’t make sense in the first place; what happened to separation of church and state), but there is major controversy about abstinence-only education.

There is little proof that abstinence-only sex education works. According to Planned Parenthood, 88 percent of students who pledge to not have sex until they’re married still have premarital sex.

There is just more to sex than “just say no.” Everything about sex involves a personal decision. Giving teenagers only one “correct” interpretation is not only unfair, but unhealthy.

These abstinence-only programs are ineffective, and they provide young people with incorrect information. The decreased amount of information about contraceptives could also make these students less likely to use condoms or other forms of birth control.

Even the American Medical Association and the National Institutes of Health have noted that abstinence-only programs are not working. The NIH has maintained the policy that more money should be given to comprehensive sex education programs because they are successful in reducing “risky sexual behavior.”

Instead of abstinence-only programs, comprehensive sex education is clearly the way to go. Students who go through reality-based sex ed are more likely to use contraception and do not have sex any earlier than students who were taught abstinence-only.

Sorry, Bush and anyone who supports such excluding education, but it’s time for a wake up call — sex among teenagers is going to happen. Keep in mind, out of developed nations, the United States is home to the highest teen pregnancy rate.

It looks like something’s not working.

Yes, abstinence is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, but failing to provide middle school and high school-aged students with the proper information can only hurt them. It’s time to take the facts and apply them to the federal spending budget, not just hopeful, right-wing thinking. We can think of 28 million other places that money should have gone. If anything, a compromise should be made where a comprehensive education is executed that balances contraceptive and sexual awareness and a promotion of abstinence.

Let’s be honest, the government is not going to hold the hands of America’s young people and walk them through these kinds of decisions — we don’t expect them to. That is why the government and the educators they support need to provide students with the facts, and only the facts, and allow that information to help and guide them make educated decisions.