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Over the weekend, 15 editorials echoed Planned Parenthood’s push to end dangerous “abstinence-only” programs that don’t work and to instead invest funding in comprehensive sex education that teaches teens about abstinence as well as contraception, healthy communication, responsible decision making, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections.

This brings the total to more than 20 editorial boards at newspapers across the U.S. that have given careful consideration to one of the most important health and safety issues facing our nation today — all have concluded that the abstinence-only policy is a failure, and a comprehensive approach to sex education is a must.

Last week, an alarming study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that one in four teen girls has a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and that more than three million teenage girls have an STI.

Planned Parenthood is a leading advocate for comprehensive sex education programs in America’s schools that keep teens healthy.

A roundup of editorials calling for comprehensive sex education and prevention policies:

New York Times editorial: One in Four Girls. “The new findings strengthen the case for providing HPV vaccine to young girls and for regular screening of sexually active girls to detect infection. There is also a clear need to strengthen programs in sex education. Exhortations to practice abstinence go only so far. Teenage girls who are sexually active need access to contraceptives and counseling.” [https://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/17/opinion/17mon4.html]

Anchorage Daily News editorial: Don't say 'Just say no'. “A national study of sexually transmitted diseases found that one-fourth of teenage girls nationally are infected with at least one of the common diseases. That's outrageous, and it proves that the Bush administration's policy of promoting abstinence-only has failed our young women. We should be especially concerned in Alaska, where STD rates are high…. Condoms properly used also prevent STDs. Youths of both sexes should know about them and have easy access to them. Yet the Bush administration continues to focus its money and energy on abstinence-only education programs. The president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, called the national policy of abstinence-only programs ‘a $1.5 billion failure,’ according to the New York Times. Fortunately, the state of Alaska takes a broader approach. ‘In fairness to all teens, educating them about all of the options is the best thing,’ said (Stephanie Birch, the state chief for women's, children's and family health).”  [https://www.adn.com/opinion/story/347411.html]

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial: Abstinence-only education needs to go. “It doesn't matter if you're the pro-sex education or abstinence-only type, the statistics speak for themselves, and what matters most is that something be done to make our children more sexually responsible and safe. Let's start with re-tooling the failed abstinence-only approach backed by the Bush administration. Let's teach teenagers about contraceptives and other precautions that could help protect them if they are sexually active. Educators and parents should also point out the long-term risks that STDs pose, including abnormal pregnancies and susceptibility to HIV/AIDS.” [https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/sfl-317stdedit,0,3582726.story]

Detroit Free Press editorial: Give teens the facts on sexual diseases. “Twenty years ago, telling teens to just say no seemed a simple way to talk about sex. Today, it's flat out irresponsible, because they just don't. Slogans and hope are a poor substitute for the frank discussion needed to combat the astounding rate of teen girls contracting sexually transmitted diseases…. Girls across the board need access to fact-filled sex education. What a better investment that would be over the near $2 billion that has been devoted to ‘abstinence only.’ Young girls are not abstaining, and in the process they are jeopardizing their health, some clearly because they have no clue about the risks.” [https://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080317/OPINION01/803170308]

Philadelphia Daily News editorial: THE BIRDS, THE BEES & THE STDS. “Clearly, this alarming incidence of sexually transmitted diseases and high rates of teen pregnancies in America reflect a breakdown of parental influence ... to say nothing of the failure of a $1 billion abstinence-only program favored by President Bush. Parents of teenage girls grapple with a tough choice; they may worry that urging girls to use condoms encourages sexual promiscuity, even though it's their daughters who carry the burden of contraception. Our choice as a society is much simpler. We need to make sure that every pre-teen in public school girls and boys is enrolled in a sex-education course that provides facts, not dogma.” [https://www.philly.com/dailynews/opinion/20080317_THE_BIRDS__THE_BEES___THE_STDS.html]

Daytona Beach News Journal editorial: Sex, lies and teens. “Public-health experts see a linkage between these statistics. ‘Abstinence-only’ programs pushed relentlessly by the Bush administration have had little measurable effect on teen sexual behavior, but have all but ensured that more teens are embarking on sexual activity without the knowledge to protect themselves…. The good news is that the same measures better information, more readily available contraception work in fighting both pregnancy and disease. But the administration's short-sighted policies fail to acknowledge that. Instead, they leave too many girls relying on their friends or popular culture for information about their sexuality.” [https://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/Opinion/Editorials/opnOPN90031708.htm]

Muskogee (OK) Phoenix editorial: Educate teens about protection. “Let’s face it. We’d all prefer teenagers didn’t get involved in sexual relations at a time most agree they’re not emotionally equipped to handle them. But they’re doing it, whether we like it or not. We owe it to them to educate them to the dangers they face.” [https://www.muskogeephoenix.com/opinion/local_story_077013509.html]

Mankato (MN) Free Press editorial: Our View: Improve sex education. “And yes, that means they’re having sex. Unprotected sex. And that means abstinence-based sex education, which many school districts teach, including Mankato’s, is obviously not doing the job. In Mankato 32 percent of female 12th-graders who said they are sexually active said they rarely or never use a condom. Teaching abstinence is not a bad thing. But it doesn’t anticipate real behavior of many teenagers and it is only part of the big picture when it comes to discussing choices.” [https://www.mankatofreepress.com/editorials/local_story_077004755.html]

Austin American-Statesman editorial: Sex education that can last a lifetime. “With so many teenagers testing positive for serious sexually transmitted diseases, it’s not a leap in logic to determine that they are not being well served by sex education courses. The new information calls attention to the need for sex education courses to provide detailed information about condoms and sexually transmitted diseases so that, at the very least, teenagers get the information they need to arm themselves against potentially serious diseases.” [https://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/editorial/entries/2008/03/15/sex_education_that_can_last_a.html]

Southwest Florida News-Press editorial: Abstinence not enough for teenagers. “Clearly, abstinence-only sex education isn't getting the job done…. Teens should be taught that abstinence is the only sure-fire way to avoid disease and unwanted pregnancies; but they should also learn how to protect themselves to the best of their ability should they engage in sexual activity.” [https://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080315/OPINION/803150422/1015/opinion]

Des Moines Register editorial: Do more to protect teens against sex-related diseases. “Schools should do more to provide frank sex education to teens. If that approach disturbs some people, it's a lot more shocking that an estimated 26 percent of young women ages 14 to 19 are infected with one or more of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, according to a new national study…. A big part of the answer is better sex education. That should start at home, but must occur in the schools, too. It's a good step that Gov. Chet Culver recently announced he'll reject federal funding for abstinence-only programs. Kids need practical information. While it would be ideal if teens delayed sexual activity, the reality is that some won't.” [https://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080315/OPINION03/803150314/-1/NEWS04]

Houston Chronicle editorial: One in four girls. “The inescapable conclusion is that teens need more help in avoiding the serious consequences of having sex before they are ready and without adequate protection…. Teens who have sex should know how to protect themselves from potentially devastating sexually transmitted diseases — not to mention unintended pregnancy.” [http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/One-in-four-girls-Shocking-study-on-sexually-1782220.php]

Kansas City Star editorial: Sex, teenagers — and reality. “Far too many teenagers are given messages about abstinence, but not information about protection if they do become sexually active…. The prudent response would be to recognize that many teenagers are sexually active. Education about protection from disease is absolutely necessary to help save young people from serious health risks.” [https://www.kansascity.com/340/story/531933.html]

Bangor Daily News editorial: Birds, bees and STDs. “Youths should be encouraged to abstain from sex. The reality is that many won’t, so ensuring they understand the real dangers and consequences of their sexual activity is crucial.”

Detroit News editorial: Aggressive response needed to combat teen STDs. “Other worthwhile measures include vaccinating teens against HPV and educating them on contraceptives and the hazards of unprotected sex. The latter is controversial, with some parents saying information on contraceptives encourages teen sexual encounters. However, such worry is too little, too late. About 50 percent of high school students report having had sexual intercourse. Providing access to useful information to protect their health is prudent public policy.” [https://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080314/OPINION01/803140401/1008]




Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Tait Sye, 202-973-4840


March 18, 2008


May 14, 2014