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Abstinence-Only Sex Education: Arguments For And Against

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Proposition 1
  3. Proposition 2
  4. Conclusion
  5. References

NEGATIVE: Abstinence is a window of clarity through which one can better find one’s work and one’s mate.

— Lance Morrow, an American essayist and writer for Time Magazine


Hello Judge. My name is Preston Peterson, and I am the first speaker for the negative side of the resolution: The United States Board of Education should continue to teach abstinence in schools as it is the most effective way to prevent teen pregnancy. Abstinence-only sex education is defined as a: morality-based approach that focuses on encouraging students to refrain from engaging in sexual activity until they are married. This approach presents abstinence as the expected standard for teen behavior, as well as the only fail-proof method of preventing STIs and unwanted pregnancy. (Sex Education, 2017)

Supporters of this form of sex education prefer it from a comprehensive standpoint because they believe the “teachings undercut family values, promote wanton sexual activity and, in effect, cause teen pregnancy and disobedience” (Comprehensive, 2013, p. 18). In addition, they have a strong belief that premarital sex is threatening to the physical and emotional well being of a growing teenager as they develop into young adults. Typically, abstinence supporters feel as if it is their given parental right to instruct their children on the basis of sex and their own religious and personal beliefs revolving around the topic; saying that the education system infringes on their right as a parent and a citizen in the United States as the first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law […] prohibiting the free exercise” of religion by American citizens” (Comprehensive, 2013, p. 18). Our opponents are against the teaching of abstinence sex education so they will be arguing the fact that the comprehensive approach is the most effective way to teach sex education. Proposition 1. Abstinence is the only true way to prevent pregnancy and protect against STDs; Proposition 2. Abstinence helps prevent physical and mental harm that are effects of premature sex.

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Proposition 1

Majority of advocates for a comprehensive approach to sex education argue that due to their methods of teaching, teen pregnancy rates have dropped significantly. This is true, however:

The rates of teen pregnancy in the United States are in decline; but even so, 2 out of every 100 teenagers in the U.S. become pregnant. In 2015, more than 220,000 teens between the ages of 15 and 19 gave birth. Most are adolescents living below the poverty line, minorities, and those in rural communities. (Langford, 2018)

The teen pregnancy rate continues to remain the highest and therefore reaps repercussions which is a “substantial economic cost to society” (Langford, 2018). This is displayed in 2010 when “teen pregnancy and subsequent childbirth resulted in nearly $9.4 billion dollars in public costs for prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum care, and first year of infant life care” (Langford, 2018). This method also reflects overall American values as surveys showed that “90 percent of parents want their children to be taught abstinence in school” (Sex Education, 2017). There is evidence of effectiveness based from the principles that stem from the practice and teachings of abstinence that were shown in seventeen studies that were conducted throughout the years. These studies reported “statistically significant positive results, such as delayed sexual initiation and reduced levels of early sexual activity, among youths who have received abstinence education” (Kim, 2010). These programs offer preparation pointed at making a difference in young people in order for them to create a solid ethical character, work out self-discipline, make capable choices, and center on their future (Sex Education, 2017).

Proposition 2

Abstinence helps prevent physical and mental harm that are effects of premature sex. For example, “delaying sexual activity until adulthood improves students’ academic performance and makes them more likely to graduate from college, thus increasing their employment options and reducing their chances of living in poverty” (Langford, 2018). “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” (Kim, 2010). Through the utilization of these programs, it will allow teenagers to engage their time in planning for their future and allowing them to have a better understanding of who they are. Research has shown that “abstinent teens report, on average, better psychological well-being and higher educational attainment than those who are sexually active” (Kim, 2010). In recent years, a survey was conducted online by Seventeen magazine and the Ms. Foundation which discovered that majority of people that chose to engage in sexual activities before marriage experienced increased levels of remorse and the feeling of being peer pressured. The survey reached out to a thousand 13 to 21 year-olds, which found that an overwhelming 81 percent of the girls who had already had sex wished they’d waited until they were older; and 60 percent of the boys had agreed (Hymowitz, 2016). This only further proves the idea that adolescents should wait until marriage to prevent regrets in their adult lives as well as further disappointments until they are able to find the correct moral guidance in a world that “glamorizes sexual freedom” (Hymowitz, 2016).


Today’s youthful individuals confront solid peer pressure to lock in unsafe behavior and must explore media and prevalent culture that underwrite and indeed glamorize tolerance and casual sex (Kim, 2010). “Teenagers who engage in sexual activity risk a host of negative outcomes including STD infection, emotional and psychological harm, lower educational attainment, and out-of-wedlock childbearing” (Kim, 2010). Having an authentic abstinence education is therefore crucial to the physical and mental well-being of the nation’s youth (Kim, 2010). “In addition to teaching the benefits of abstaining from sexual activity until marriage, abstinence programs focus on developing character traits that prepare them for the future” (Kim, 2010). This is not only for the benefit of the parents as it should be their rightful decision to decide what is best for their children and not the choice of the school; but also for the child itself as to avoid any unnecessary circumstances to arise from engaging in any form of sexual activity that they may later learn to regret. Thank you for your time judge, and please vote negative.


  1. Comprehensive v. Abstinence-Only Sex Education in Public Schools: A Debate over Individual Health and Religious Belief, 13-33. (2013). Retrieved from &cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us.
  2. Hymowitz, K. S. (2016, January 26). Regrets on Teen Sex. Retrieved from
  3. Kim, C., & Rector, R. (2010, February 19). Evidence on the Effectiveness of Abstinence Education: An Update. Retrieved from
  4. Langford, A. (2018, August 07). Preventing Teen Pregnancy: The Impact of Dolls, Abstinence, and Sex Education. Retrieved from
  5. Sex Education. (2017). In Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit, MI: Gale. Retrieved from

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“Abstinence-Only Sex Education: Arguments For And Against.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022,
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