by Christine Kim and Robert Rector
Abstract: Teen sexual activity is costly, not just for teens, but also for society. Teens who engage in sexual activity risk a host of negative outcomes including STD infection, emotional and psychological harm, and out-of-wedlock childbearing. Genuine abstinence education is therefore crucial to the physical and psycho-emotional well-being of the nation's youth. In addition to teaching the benefits of abstaining from sexual activity until marriage, abstinence programs focus on developing character traits that prepare youths for future-oriented goals. When considering effective prevention program aimed at changing teen sexual behavior, lawmakers should consider all of the available empirical evidence and restore funding for abstinence education.
Teen sexual activity remains a widespread problem confronting the nation. Each year, some 2.6 million teenagers become sexually active--a rate of 7,000 teens per day. Among high school students, nearly half report having engaged in sexual activity, and one-third are currently active.