"Let's hope that when President Bush vacates the Oval Office, he takes with him the myth of abstinence-only education," Laura Berman -- a Chicago Sun-Times columnist, sex therapist and author -- writes in an opinion piece. She notes that a congressionally commissioned study this year found that "abstinence-only education does not deter teenagers from having sex, nor does it encourage them to use contraception." Berman writes, "[W]hen it comes to sex education, Illinois is leading the nation with bright ideas and a dedication to reform. And it is no secret that our country is in dire need of this reform." She continues, "From Hollywood to Gloucester, Mass., teens across the United States are practicing unsafe sex," which contributes to the spread of sexually transmitted infections and "lack of decline in teenage pregnancy."

According to Berman, the U.S. should replace abstinence-only education with "comprehensive abstinence-centric sex education," which "encourages teens to wait, but additionally teaches them how to negotiate condom use and how to practice safer sex." This method of education also includes information about pregnancy and STIs, she says. Berman writes, "There's a big difference in scare tactics and education -- one is effective and one isn't."

During the election, President-elect Barack Obama's position on comprehensive sex education "was turned against him in a factually inaccurate advertisement that stated he wanted to teach kids sex education before they could even read," Berman says. In fact, "Obama voted for a bill that would offer some sexual education to kindergartners, mainly to help kids protect themselves from sexual abuse," according to Berman. Obama "knows and understands that old-fashioned thinking should not get in the way of public health concerns," Berman writes, adding that when Obama takes office, "children hopefully will soon begin receiving sex education that will protect them rather than threaten them, and educate them rather than lecture them." She concludes that "it's time for a coherent, nationwide, sensible sex education policy" (Berman, Chicago Sun-Times, 12/9).

Reprinted with kind permission from nationalpartnership. You can view the entire Daily Women's Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery here. The Daily Women's Health Policy Report is a free service of the National Partnership for Women & Families, published by The Advisory Board Company.

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