Abstinence Essay Writing Tips

The question of abstinence is a hot political topic in the USA, and even crops up occasionally in other countries. It’s an interesting topic for an essay, whether arguing for one side or outlining both positions. So, what does it take to write a good essay on the subject?

Firstly, it’s necessary to explain what abstinence actually means. It can cover any kind of self-denial, but in modern political discussions usually means not having sex before (or outside of) marriage. The main target of abstinence education is teenagers.

Who supports abstinence? It’s often associated with right-wing American Christians, but in fact it’s a belief held by many religious people in different societies. As a political issue, though, the main supporters are the Republican Party in the USA. In the recent past Republican administrations have provided funding for abstinence-only sex education in American schools, and in fact it has become the main focus of sex education. In other advanced countries, though, it’s barely even discussed.

Does abstinence work? Obviously, yes it does. People who practice abstinence have no risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases; women and girls who practice abstinence have no risk of unplanned pregnancies.

But does it really work? No. Several recent studies have looked at the effectiveness of abstinence as a method of reducing risky sexual behavior and unwanted pregnancies; one of these studies included a very large sample of over 15,000 American teenagers from 13 abstinence programs. All studies found that, in practice, abstinence doesn’t happen; teenagers who are taught abstinence, including those who join pledge groups such as True Love Waits or Silver Ring Thing, are no less likely to have sex than others. In fact at least one other study has found that abstinence education makes teenagers more likely to take part in potentially risky behavior like oral and anal sex, because it allows them to continue to claim to be virgins.

Can abstinence have harmful effects? It’s likely. There are signs of a correlation between the peak of abstinence-only sex education in the USA and an increase in teenage pregnancies. Many researchers think the two are connected, and that teaching only abstinence leaves teenagers just as likely to have sex but ignorant of contraception. On the other hand, teaching abstinence as an option as well as teaching about proper birth control is not likely to have this effect.

What are the religious implications? If you’re arguing in favor of abstinence it’s best to avoid openly religious arguments, as these can be seen as attempting to force your own religious beliefs onto other people.

The abstinence debate is a difficult issue, and feelings can run high on both sides. It does raise some interesting issues though, especially about the morality of teaching only one aspect of sex education.

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