BY Advocate.com Editors
September 25 2002 12:00 AM ET
Report: Abstinence-only sex education threatens health of youth
A report released by the New York-based group Human Rights Watch on abstinence-only sex education programs for youth says such programs are "threatening" the health of young people by excluding information on condom use and other methods of preventing HIV transmission. The report, titled "Ignorance Only: HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, and Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Programs in the United States," examined the effectiveness of several abstinence programs for youth in Texas.
Researchers interviewed staff members running abstinence-only programs, teachers, counselors, school administrators, students, and state and federal health and education professionals. They found that while most sex education programs in the state don't address condom use, some specifically assert that condoms don't work or that they are ineffective in preventing HIV transmission. The report concludes that these programs "potentially harm all youth by suppressing important HIV prevention information" and suggests that the federal government strike funding for abstinence-only programs and instead provide support for comprehensive sex education programs. The researchers also recommend that state governments repeal any legislation mandating abstinence-only education.
The full report is available online at www.hrw.org.