Promoting sexual abstinence is the only recommendation being offered by the Governor's Task Force on Teenage Pregnancy Prevention as a solution to Utah's teen pregnancy problem. And it's the one that makes the most sense.
Task force members felt strongly enough concerning the recommendation to urge the state not to become involved with other programs suggesting the use of contraceptives as an alternative solution.Instead, the report emphasized, the state should firmly base all adolescent pregnancy-prevention programs on the principle of sexual abstinence.
The task force has spent many weeks studying the results of a survey conducted earlier this summer involving 839 Utah teens. That survey revealed an interesting fact: The majority of Utah teenagers already abstain and are not sexually active.
Also evident from the survey is that the biggest factor influencing teenagers to refrain from sexual activity is the presence of moral values calling for abstinence. "Such values play a crucial role in helping teens avoid sexual activity," the survey report said.
And now the task force is recommending the state build on these findings by:
- Basing all adolescent pregnancy-prevention programs on the principle of sexual abstinence among teenagers.
- Developing a K-12 curriculum on family life and human development as part of public school requirements.
- Initiating a public education and information campaign to increase awareness of teen pregnancy and encourage prevention efforts.
- Involving parents or guardians, to the greatest extent possible, in programs to prevent teen pregnancy.
- Directing adolescent pregnancy-prevention efforts at both males and females.
- Providing continued or increased support for programs to prevent other problems among youths.
This approach appears well-founded in light of the survey results. Those results show that teaching abstinence, properly supported in other ways, is the single most effective approach available.
It makes no sense to then turn around and offer alternatives to abstinence. That only undercuts the strength and moral position of abstinence.
The evidence is clear. Programs based on moral values are the best approach to teenage behavior. Given the proper set of values, supported at every opportunity, most teenagers will make decisions that are responsible for themselves, their peers, and society at large.