Sex education effectiveness

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education: sex education: effectiveness


The effectiveness of sex education can be measured by how well it achieves its goals, which are:

  • reduction of unwanted pregnancies (reducing the burden to society of unwanted children)
  • reduction of sexually-transmitted diseases (improving citizen health)
  • increased understanding of human biology/sexuality (universal education as applied to this particular topic)

Choosing between different sex education philosophies must not only take into account whether a particular method helps to meet those goals or not, but also its effectiveness relative to other methods.

The two prime candidates for sex education philosophy appear to be "inclusive", i.e. conveying all of the most relevant information, and "abstinence-based".

Effectiveness of Abstinence-Based Education

Abstinence-based sex education essentially teaches that sexual abstinence is the only reliable method of preventing both pregnancy and spread of disease (both claims being untrue) and carefully omits any information about any of the other methods – including their various degrees of effectiveness. It also tends to discourage any teaching about how effectiveness is measured in general. It essentially blinkers the student so they have an all-or-nothing choice of believing completely that abstinence is the only method, or choosing to question everything the teacher says.

Some numbers are needed, however, to determine how these facts translate into effectiveness.