Global Resources

Abstinence-Only Education (in the USA): Fact Sheet

Publisher: Planned Parenthood Federation of America Incorporated
Publication Date: Jun 2001
Since the 1980s Christian right-wing fundamentalist groups in the USA have been lobbying for abstinence-only-before-marriage education instead of sex education in US schools. Their efforts have met with some success. Between 1997-2002, approximately US$500 million in federal and state matching funds was spent on abstinence only education, and President Bush has recently increased support for such programs. This is in spite of evidence suggesting that students who receive abstinence education rather than comprehensive sexuality education do not abstain for longer, but are more likely to have unsafe sex when they do become sexually active. The USA has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world, and American adolescents are contracting HIV faster than almost any other demographic group in the USA. Such trends have been attributed to restrictions on comprehensive sexuality education, lack of availability of condoms for teenagers, and widespread attitudes that adolescents should not have sex.