, Salem, MA

April 10, 2014

Letter: Abstinence a failed policy

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

Joseph Sciola (”Condoms have no place in schools,” April 4) advocates abstinence-only education when he asks “Whatever happened to telling kids that sex outside of marriage is wrong, it’s immoral, it’s sinful?” The easy answer is that it failed, and horribly so. It fails to delay first sexual engagements, it fails to prevent teen pregnancy, it fails to halt the spread of sexually transmitted infections, and it fails to account for homosexuals (upward of 10 percent of the population) who cannot marry in more than 30 states.

We can pretend that high school students are ignorant to what sex is or entirely capable of repressing their desires (especially if we ignore the research that shows the young adult brain isn’t fully developed, particularly in the realm of self-control), but we do so at a larger cost: a cost to the families’ lives made more complicated by pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and a ripple effect throughout the community.

The abstinence-only approach to sex education can at best be compared to telling a 16-year-old to never step into a car or fool around with a car until it’s time to drive into what may be the most important race of his or her life and that somehow, everything will go smoothly. And given that the length between sexual development (early-to-mid-teens) and marriage (late 20s) continues to widen, who believes it’s realistic or useful to tell teenagers, “Oh, you have working sexual organs, but since it may be a decade or more until you’re married, clench your morals together real hard!”?

However, the most damning thing about advocating abstinence until marriage is that by placing such a high price of one’s sexual interaction as the cornerstone of marriage, you ultimately water down marriage to little more than a license to fornicate. Talk about upholding the sanctity of marriage!

Lance Eaton