Abstinence, contraception should be subjects of sex ed
Alyssa Ryan’s excellent Another Voice column, “Why teens need well-rounded sex education” that ran Dec. 7, provided an impassioned argument for comprehensive sex education programs in schools. I agree wholeheartedly with every point she made, but I’d like to add more perspective on this topic.
I am a graduate of UB medical school and observed/treated many pregnant teens or teen moms who lacked the emotional maturity, education and financial wherewithal to provide their babies with the care and resources necessary for proper physical and mental health. I also earned a Master’s of Public Health degree concentrating on the epidemiology of infectious diseases, and am now a public health advocate.
My philosophy is that abstinence should be emphasized because it is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STDs, as every contraceptive method has a small yet significant failure rate and birth control pills alone afford no protection against STDs. However, abstinence-only programs are inadequate because it is unrealistic to assume every teenager will abstain from sex. Therefore, an unbiased and science-based curriculum imparting both the benefits and risks of using every type of contraceptive must be taught as a critical component of sex education programs.
I have written a book, in part using my many personal and professional experiences, to educate youths about teen/unwanted pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse and suicides, and promote good decision-making skills so that they may reach their full potential.
Peter McNeela, MD, MPH