Abstinence-only education policies and programs: A position paper of the Society for Adolescent Medicine

      Abstinence from sexual intercourse represents a healthy choice for teenagers, as teenagers face considerable risk to their reproductive health from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Remaining abstinent, at least through high school, is strongly supported by parents and even by adolescents themselves. However, few Americans remain abstinent until marriage, many do not or cannot marry, and most initiate sexual intercourse and other sexual behaviors as adolescents. Abstinence as a behavioral goal is not the same as abstinence-only education programs. Abstinence from sexual intercourse, while theoretically fully protective, often fails to protect against pregnancy and disease in actual practice because abstinence is not maintained.
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      Linked Article

      • Abstinence and Abstinence-Only Education
        Journal of Adolescent HealthVol. 39Issue 2
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          The January 2006 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health included a Society of Adolescent Medicine position statement on abstinence education. Although the intention of the position statement is to promote adolescent health, it misrepresents abstinence education and adds little to the discussion on the relevance of abstinence to healthy adolescent outcomes.
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      • Abstinence and Abstinence-Only Education
        Journal of Adolescent HealthVol. 39Issue 2
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          Policy is not created in a vacuum; it can reflect various aspects of our culture including health concerns, social trends and mores, and political considerations. Policy has to continue to be driven by and based on the best science that is available.
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      • Abstinence and Abstinence-Only Education
        Journal of Adolescent HealthVol. 39Issue 2
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          I am writing in response to the letters and statements received by the Journal commenting on the Position Paper, “Abstinence-Only Education Policies and Programs: A Position Paper of the Society for Adolescent Medicine” [1]. The position of the Society is clearly stated in the cited paper. The Society gave serious consideration to all viewpoints and all available data in deciding to promulgate this paper. The Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM) stands by that decision. SAM welcomes discussion of this serious issue as long as discussion is rooted in evidence and seriously considers the health and welfare of all adolescents.
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