I have chosen to complete a summary on the article “Abstinence-Only and Comprehensive Sex Education and the Initiation of Sexual Activity and Teen Pregnancy” from the Journal of Adolescent Health, by Kohler et al. In this article, the authors explore the role that various methods of sex education have on the initiation of sexual activity, the risk of teen pregnancy, and the risk of sexually transmitted diseases/infections (STD/STI) among adolescents. This article is American, but I believe there is relevance to Canadian curriculum as well.
The article begins by sharing with the reader that STIs and teen pregnancy rates are higher in the United States than most other countries. In the article authors will look into the effectiveness of sexual education in helping prevent these issues. Kohler et al. explain that in formal school-based or church-based sexual education, instruction is either abstinence only education, or comprehensive sexual education (345). In Abstinence only education, students are taught that sex should be saved for marriage, and very limited information is shared about contraceptives; although statements are made about their ineffectiveness. In comprehensive programs, students are taught not only abstinence as an option, but are also taught information on various forms of contraceptives, and information on how to prevent STIs.
Kohler et al. conducted their research through in-home interviews that included self-assessment of teens aged 15-19 on topics such as their demographics, beliefs about family planning, self-reported sexual behaviour, and history STI diagnoses. Their research found that “abstinence-only programs had no significant effect in delaying the initiation of sexual activity or in reducing risk for teen pregnancy and STDs” (Kohler et al. 349). However, their research found that comprehensive sex education programs significantly reduced that rate of teen pregnancy, and slightly decreased the likelihood of a teen becoming sexually active in their adolescence compared to teens who received no sex education.
My next steps in completing a critical analysis of the idea of comprehensive sexual education is to find two other articles on the topic, which will help me analyze the ideas brought forth in the article by Kohler et al. I believe sexual education is a subject that does not get enough attention in our society and is one that needs some curricular updates. It is my hope that this critical analysis will provide me with an outlook on how I can better teach the subject in the future.