Comprehensive sex education programs in public schools fail to drive home the importance of abstinence and focus instead on encouraging the use of contraception to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, concludes a report released last week by the Heritage Foundation.
For the analysis, researchers at the Washington think tank sifted through nine abstinence-only curricula and nine comprehensive sex education curricula. The report says comprehensive sex education programs, also called abstinence-plus programs, do not criticize teenage sex—rather, they present it as normal, and even promote the idea of free sex.
It also estimates that less than 5 percent of the content of comprehensive sex education curricula is devoted to abstinence. In contrast, it found that “authentic” abstinence curricula devote 54 percent of their content to abstinence-related material.
The report comes soon after one released by U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., that found that some widely used abstinence-based sex education programs financed by the federal government teach erroneous information.
A version of this article appeared in the February 16, 2005 edition of Education Week