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Abstinence vs. Sex Ed.

Which approach is most reasonable for today's kids?

Which Approach Is Best?

To advocates of the abstinence-only approach, these disturbing statistics make it abundantly clear that a simple message of "no sex outside of marriage" for teens is the only appropriate one for educators to take. "The responsibility of a public institution serving kids is risk avoidance, not harm reduction," says Peter Brandt, President of the National Coalition for Abstinence Education in Colorado Springs and the parent of twotwenty-somethings. "Schools teach 'no smoking' and 'no drinking.' They don't say 'if you smoke, use a filter' or 'if you drink and drive, wear your safety belt.' Why should sex be treated differently?"

To advocates of an approach that includes contraception information, the answer to this question is easy. "Unlike smoking, which is always bad for you, sexual behavior is a basic human need which can be a positive experience -- although it requires maturity and responsibility," says Michael McGee, vice president for education at Planned Parenthood Federation of America in New York City and the father of two teenagers. When it comes to prohibiting or limiting information about contraception, McGee says,"pregnancy and STDs are not something teens should be ignorant about preventing. I think it is morally irresponsible to deprive young people of information that can save their lives."

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