Heritage Foundation – Christine Kim and Robert E. Rector April 22 2008
…Early sexual activity is associated with an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), reduced psychological and emotional well-being, lower academic achievement, teen pregnancy, and out-of-wedlock childbearing.
Abstinence education “teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school age children” and stresses the social, psychological, and health benefits of abstinence. Abstinence programs also provide youths with valuable life and decision-making skills that lay the foundation for personal responsibility and developing healthy relationships and marriages later in life. These programs emphasize preparing young people for future-oriented goals.
The Evidence. Studies have shown that abstinent teens report, on average, better psychological well-being and higher academic achievement than those who are sexually active. Delaying the initiation of or reducing early sexual activity among teens can decrease their overall exposure to risks of unwed childbearing, STDs, and psycho-emotional harm. Authentic abstinence programs are therefore crucial to efforts aimed at reducing unwed childbearing and improving youth well-being.
The Current Environment. Today’s young people face strong peer pressure to engage in risky behavior and must navigate media and popular culture that endorse and even glamorize permissiveness and casual sex. Alarmingly, the government implicitly supports these messages by spending over $1 billion each year to promote contraception and safe-sex education—at least 12 times what it spends on abstinence education. Although 80 percent of parents want schools to teach youths to abstain from sexual activity until they are in a committed adult romantic relationship nearing marriage—the core message of abstinence education—these parental values are rarely communicated in the classroom.
Conclusion. Teen sexual activity is costly, not just for teens, but also for society. Teens who engage in sexual activity risk a host of negative outcomes including STD infection, emotional and psychological harm, and out-of-wedlock childbearing.
FULL REPORT http://www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/bg2126.cfm