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Teens and Sex: Just the Facts

Saturday, December 11, 2004; Page A22

Regarding the Dec. 2 front-page story "Some Abstinence Programs Mislead Teens, Report Says" by Ceci Connolly:

Although some abstinence-only education programs may misrepresent facts in an effort to promote a morally conservative agenda, several outstanding programs promote abstinence from a truthful and complete position and without a moral agenda. These few programs focus on the medical fact that abstinence is the best course for allowing children to have a healthy and fulfilling adolescence. For example, my wife is executive director of the nonprofit Await & Find Project; that organization does an admirable job of demonstrating how complete and factual information supports the need for abstinence education.

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Comprehensive sexual education is a necessity for young adults. But it is in the best interest of our children's health to have an abstinence-only message as a distinct and significant part of education during adolescence.

JIM GRIFFITHS

Castro Valley, Calif.

I have taught reproductive biology, and I have to say that stories about abstinence programs make me want to howl in frustration.

Our nation's youth are woefully ignorant about the basics of their reproductive systems. They are expected to make significant health decisions -- about everything from fertility treatment to contraception -- with scanty or false information because we cannot seem to separate the biology of reproduction from the morality of sexual behavior.

Learning about lungs doesn't make kids smoke, nor does understanding liver physiology make them drink. Why would providing accurate reproductive knowledge cause teenagers to engage in risky behavior?

If teenagers are taught the facts about how diseases are spread; about how pregnancy occurs and is prevented; and about the risks associated with sexual behaviors, then they may realize that abstinence is the only guaranteed way to avoid risk. Those who decide to have sex can make informed choices.

Providing inaccurate scientific or medical information to bolster a moral agenda is unconscionable.

CARRIE D. WOLINETZ

Silver Spring


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