The debate between "comprehensive sex education" (also just called "sex education") and "abstinence-only education" is long-standing in the United States, and exists in many other societies around the world that are split between more sexually progressive groups and those that generally oppose pre-marital sex. Comprehensive sex education programs, at least in the United States, generally emphasise that abstaining from sex is the safest way to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. However, comprehensive programs differ from abstinence-only programs in that they also encourage the use of condoms or other forms of contraception. Abstinence-only programs are much more conservative and limited in scope, teaching abstinence from sex, usually until marriage, as a means of avoiding the risk of pregnancy and STDs and of enjoying other considered benefits such as a more unique sexual bond with one's ultimate partner.
When constructing affirmative and negative cases, debaters should consider the wide range of perspectives from which these issues can be understood. This debate brings together many fields of study, including sexual culture, marital culture, faith, human instincts, pregnancy, disease, and parental-school-state roles. Debaters should also be clear exactly what they are arguing for. Although abstinence-only programs are generally thought of as quite conservative, this need not prevent an affirmative team including the discussion of STIs and their effects as part of these programs. Opposition side teams should be prepared to discuss the social and value-led implications of teaching children about the threat of STIs in order to deter them from engaging in pre-marital sex.
Affirmative debaters should be prepared for Negative debaters who attempt to argue that the affirmative team should advocate fairly traditional abstinence-programs, and cannot design a program so liberal as to be nearly identical to sex-ed programs.
Debaters should also consider what age group they are discussing: the arguments for abstinence-only with young children may be substantially different than those with older teenagers. Given that the resolution does not specify the age range, it is up to the Affirmative to either defend abstinence-only in general in primary and secondary schools, or to provide solid justification for limiting the debate.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Condoms and STDs: Fact Sheet for Public Health Personnel.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 11 April 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/latex.htmJemmott, John B. III et al. “Efficacy of a Theory-Based Abstinence-Only Intervention Over 24 Months.” Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Vol. 164, No. 2. February 2010. http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/164/2/152?homeKaiser Family Foundation. “U.S. Teen Sexual Activity Fact Sheet.” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. January 2005. http://www.kff.org/youthhivstds/upload/U-S-Teen-Sexual-Activity-Fact-Sheet.pdf Accessed 22 Aug 2011.Kirby D. Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Washington, DC: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 2007.Kirby D. The impact of abstinence and comprehensive sex and STD/HIV education programs on adolescent sexual behavior. Sexuality Research and Social Policy. 5(3):18–27, 2008.Kirby D, Ecker N (and other contributors): International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education: An evidence-informed approach for schools, teachers and health educators. Volume 1: The Rationale for Sexuality Education. UNESCO, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, 2009. This is now available in six languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese and Spanish and will shortly be available in Russian.Kristoff, Nicholas D. "The Secret War on Condoms". New York Times. 10 Jan. 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/10/opinion/the-secret-war-on-condoms.html?src=pmMathematica Policy Research. “Evaluation of Abstinence Education Programs Funded Under Title V, Section 510.” Mathematica Policy Research. 2007. http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/family_support/abstinence.aspRector, Robert. "The Effectiveness of Abstinence Education Programs in Reducing Sexual Activity Among Youth". Heritage. 8 Apr. 2002. http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2002/04/the-effectiveness-of-abstinence-education-programs.Rosenberg, Melanie et al., ‘Concurrent Sex Partners and Risk for Sexually Transmitted Diseases Among Adolescents’, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Vol 26, No. 4, April 1999 pp.208-212. http://journals.lww.com/stdjournal/Abstract/1999/04000/Concurrent_Sex_Partners_and_Risk_for_Sexually.4.aspxSantelli, John S. et al. “Explaining Recent Declines in Adolescent Pregnancy in the United States: The Contribution of Abstinence and Improved Contraceptive Use.” American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 97, No. 1. January 2007. http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/content/full/97/1/150?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=1&andorexacttitle=and&andorexacttitleabs=and&fulltextSocial Security Online. “Separate Program for Abstinence Education Sec. 510 [42 U.S.C. 710]. Social Security Online. 2011. http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/ssact/title05/0510.htmStein, Rob. “Abstinence-only programs might work, study says.” Washington Post. 2 February 2010. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/01/AR2010020102628.htmlToufexis, Anastasia. et al. “Sex Has Many Accents”. Time, 24 May 1993, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,978575-2,00.htmlUnderhill, Kristin. “Sexual Abstinence Only Programmes to Prevent HIV Infection in High Income Countries: Systematic Review.” British Medical Journal. 26 July 2007. http://www.bmj.com/content/335/7613/248.fullZogby International. “Survey of Nationwide Parents of Children Age 10-16.” Zobgy International. 27 March 2007. http://www.abstinenceassociation.org/docs/zogby_questionnaire_050207.pdf