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McCainOffensive
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The Contender
Juris
Con (against)
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U.S. schools should teach comprehensive, sex-positive sex education instead of abstinence (Part 2)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/12/2013 Category: Health
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,035 times Debate No: 38807
Debate Rounds (5)
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McCainOffensive

Pro

In this debate, I will be arguing for comprehensive, sex-positive education. First round is for acceptance only, and with Con's agreement, will continue directly from the first round of the previous debate on a similar topic.

The Burden of Proof lies with both sides; each debater needs to cite their sources in order for a point to be considered valid.

I was disappointed with the previous debate on a similar topic due to a lack of participation on pro's part. I was doubly disappointed because of the great potential the topic had. I hope to rectify that and provide the attention that this topic deserves.

I look forward to a challenging debate with a worthy opponent.

Link to original debate: http://www.debate.org...
Juris

Con

I accept the challenge.

(I would still, however, copy some of my arguments and sources from the previous debate)

Please don't rebut those arguments in this debate as I yet to post it here.

kindly post your reasons first and later is the rebuttal...I am sure you're aware of that.

(I hope you're not the same person with that from the previous debate)
Debate Round No. 1
McCainOffensive

Pro

Thank you for accepting.

I want to apologize for how long it took me to post this argument. Due to many computer glitches, chief among them a fatal bug that caused my computer to crash whenever I logged onto this site, I couldn't post the argument until now. I'm using a different browser, which was the reason for the crash, so the problem shouldn't repeat itself.

Onto the debate.

I’d like to start off with some facts.

Facts:
1. Birth rates are declining [1] and the reasons are varied
2. The US has the highest teen birth rate in the industrial world [1]
3. Within the US, the states with the highest teen birth rates are the states that mandate abstinence only education, stress it, or don’t teach sex ed at all. [2][3]
4. A federal report on abstinence only programs has shown that they have failed to discourage teen sexuality [4]
5. A University of Washington study has shown that comprehensive sex ed can reduce teen pregnancy rates. [5]
6. The prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until the mid-20’s, while the limbic system is fully functional during adolescence.[6][7]


Birth rates in general, as well teen birth rates, are declining
This is something I feel I must point out early on, since most of my argument uses teen birth rates as a measure. I decided to use teen pregnancy and birth rates because pregnancies more aptly describe the cost of a lack of comprehensive sex ed than do STD’s. Across the industrialized world, fertility rates have been declining [1]. The reasons for the decline are many and varied, but the studies I have read point to more widespread use of contraception [1][5], increased educational opportunities for women, and increased age of first birth [1]. Keep in mind this trend is localized to rich, industrialized nations, not just the US. In many of these countries, comprehensive sex ed and easy access to contraceptives are the norm.

The US has the highest teen birth rate of all rich, industrialized nations
The US teen birth rate is far higher than any other developed nation in the world(52.8 at the time of study). It is nearly double that of the UK(30.2), which has the second highest rate of teen births. (The metric being used is Births to women aged below 20 per 1000)[1]. There is clearly something that sets the US apart from the other nations in this study. That something is an insistence on teaching abstinence in place of comprehensive sex ed, even though multiple studies have shown that it is ineffective in reducing teen pregnancy and birth rates[4][5]. Abstinence only sex ed may even increase the likelihood of teens engaging in vaginal intercourse [5], although the numbers are not as solid.

Within the US, teen pregnancy rates are highest in those states that teach abstinence as part of their curriculum
The states with the top ten teen pregnancy rates (New Mexico, Mississippi, Texas, Nevada, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Georgia) teach abstinence in place of contraceptive based sex ed [2][3]. However, the causes of teen pregnancy cannot be attributed simply to a lack of comprehensive sex ed. Teen pregnancy and birth rates are varied widely across demographics, with poor urban and rural teens having the highest rates of pregnancy and birth. In America, the rates between ethnicities vary greatly, with African American and non-white Hispanic teens having the highest pregnancy rates and birth rates.

A federal report has shown that abstinence only sex education has failed in its primary purpose of promoting sexual abstinence, and a University of Washington study backs this up.
A report commissioned by the Health and Human Services department in 2007 found that abstinence only teachings had “no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence” [4]. Many other factors, including participation in high risk activities and age of first intercourse, were almost identical as well between the experimental and control groups [4]. The University of Washington report found teens who received a comprehensive sex education were “sixty percent less likely to get pregnant or get someone pregnant” than those who didn’t [5]. The lead author of University of Washington report concluded that abstinence only education has no impact on teen sexual activity or pregnancy rates [5]. Multiple scientific studies have been conducted and nearly all of them have found that abstinence only teachings are woefully ineffective and possibly counterproductive. And yet many advocacy groups continue to push abstinence based teachings, framing their arguments around preserving family values and the nuclear family. There are also the thinly veiled religious overtones in many of the advocacy groups I have found that support abstinence only based programs.

The prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until the mid-20s, while the limbic system is fully functional during adolescence.
While initially this fact may seem like it is out of place, it is a central point to my argument and explains why adolescents in particular are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors. The prefrontal cortex is part of the frontal lobe; it is actually the very front of our brain and lies directly behind the forehead. This is the part of the brain involved in weighing outcomes, forming judgments, and controlling impulses and emotions [7]. It is also the very last part of the brain to fully develop, and usually stops developing during the mid-20s. The limbic system, the system responsible for emotional connections to other parts of the brain, is hardwired to register pleasure and pain in regards to high risk activities. It is fully developed in the early adolescent years [6]. The fully developed and functioning limbic system combined with an undeveloped or underdeveloped prefrontal cortex leads to pleasure and thrill seeking activities with little grasp on possible consequences. This combination is troublesome enough on its own, but becomes even more problematic when drugs, alcohol, and sexuality are added to the equation. When confronted with the choice of having sexual intercourse, one of the most biologically pleasurable acts known to man, and waiting years until marriage, sex will invariably win out in all but the strongest willed or most rational teens. Even when they are aware of the risks, teens will frequently choose the act that is pleasurable now as opposed to worrying about the vague consequences of STDs and pregnancy, neither of which are guaranteed and both of which are dealt with in the future [6][7]. The conclusion drawn from this is that no matter what we do or say, teens will have sex before marriage. It’s inevitable, and we have a duty to make sure that they practice safe sex.

To sum it up
In conclusion, comprehensive sex education is the only reasonable course of action if we want to prevent and reduce teen pregnancy and the spread of STDs. I will concede that abstinence is the best way to truly prevent teen pregnancy and the spread of STDs. Condoms and other contraceptives do fail, and nothing can be guaranteed to work correctly 100% of the time. But while abstinence is the best option, it is almost completely unfeasible. We live in a highly sexualized society where there is constant social and cultural pressure on teens to have sex, and often. Don’t believe me? Then you’ve been living under a rock. I don’t want to be harsh, but this is a serious problem: very few things are as dangerous as a lack of knowledge. HIV is one the most destructive and insidious diseases known to man; it spreads rapidly, mutates at a freakish rate, and is virtually impossible to cure. The best way to never become infected with HIV is to never have sex, ever. But sex is a powerful biological drive, even if you don’t ever want to have children. The best way to reasonably prevent the spread of HIV is with condoms. While they are not 100% effective (nothing ever is), something that works 95% percent of the time is infinitely better than a straight gamble. Pregnancy is the same way; would you rather flip a coin or be 95% confident in your decision?

Comprehensive sex education is the most reasonable option. Abstinence does not work for the majority of American adolescents.

Sources
  1. http://www.unicef-irc.org...
  2. http://www.livescience.com...
  3. http://www.siecus.org...
  4. http://www.mathematica-mpr.com...
  5. http://www.washingtonpost.com...
  6. http://suite101.com...
  7. http://science.howstuffworks.com...


Juris

Con

Mr. Debater, you want US schools to teach sex education to students because you believe that it is effective in reducing unwanted pregnancies and preventing the spread of STDs; however, you failed to explain what is “effective” in this debate, you should show certain measure that would support the effectiveness of sex education, not simply stating its noble purpose.

You have to show me real evidence that shows the effectiveness of sex education, but you didn’t.

Facts (abstinenceworks.org)

1. Comprehensive sex education purports to promote both abstinence and condom use, yet we see no evidence that school-based CSE programs are effective at improving both of these outcomes.

2 School-based CSE programs have shown no evidence of effectiveness at decreasing teen pregnancy or STDs, or increasing consistent condom use.

3 Only a few school-based CSE programs have increased any type of condom use (e.g., at first or last intercourse) for a significant period of time.

4 Four school-based abstinence programs have produced broad-based and sustained increases in the percentage of youth who remain sexually abstinent.

Rebuttals:

In conclusion, comprehensive sex education is the only reasonable course of action if we want to prevent and reduce teen pregnancy and the spread of STDs. I will concede that abstinence is the best way to truly prevent teen pregnancy and the spread of STDs.

Thank you for conceding

Condoms and other contraceptives do fail, and nothing can be guaranteed to work correctly 100% of the time. But while abstinence is the best option, it is almost completely unfeasible.

Again, thank you for saying that abstinence is the best option.

Huh? What’s not feasible? Abstinence has been there for many years now, so what’s not feasible? Please provide evidence how abstinence is not feasible.

We live in a highly sexualized society where there is constant social and cultural pressure on teens to have sex, and often. Don’t believe me? Then you’ve been living under a rock. I don’t want to be harsh, but this is a serious problem: very few things are as dangerous as a lack of knowledge.

Ad hominem! Teaching them sex education will only increase their desire to have sex, and since you said that there is no 100% effective contraceptive, then it’s like encouraging them to have sex without a full guaranty that they are safe. This is the real dangerous scenario.

But sex is a powerful biological drive, even if you don’t ever want to have children. The best way to reasonably prevent the spread of HIV is with condoms.

How can it be the best way to prevent the spread of HIV when you said that there is no 100% accurate contraceptive- no guaranty of safety. But in abstinence, there is no chance of failure, it is 100% effective in preventing the spread of HIVs.



Points

There are many different groups across the United States advocating for abstinence-only sex education in the schools. They include Concerned Women for America, the Eagle Forum, the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, the Heritage Foundation, the Medical Institute for Sexual Health (MISH), the National Coalition for Abstinence Education, and STOP Planned Parenthood International.


These and other proponents of abstinence-only education argue primarily that sex before marriage is inappropriate or immoral and that abstinence is the only method which is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs.1

Many such groups emphasize that condoms are not fool-proof in preventing pregnancy or STIs, and that sexual activity outside marriage can result in “serious, debilitating, and sometimes, deadly consequences.”2

In addition, many abstinence-only advocates are deeply concerned that information about sex, contraception and HIV can encourage early sexual activity among young people.63 These advocates credit the decrease in teenage pregnancy largely to the advancement of the abstinence-only message.3

An article on the Concerned Women for America web site states that “[t]his is not simply an issue of morality, but a matter of public health. The problems that have become so entrenched in our country, such as AIDS, illegitimate births, poverty, increasing crime and the breakdown of the nuclear family, can all be attributed to the debilitating effects of a public policy that condones sex without love or responsibility. … As research clearly indicates, America is not suffering from a lack of knowledge about sex, but an absence of values.”4

Abstinence-only proponents point to studies concluding that the abstinence-only education message has played a central role in the decline of adolescent sexual activity, and related negative health outcomes, over the last decade. One study reports that “…abstinence and decreased sexual activity among sexually active adolescents are primarily responsible for the decline during the 1990s in adolescent pregnancy, birth and abortion rates. Attributing these declines to increased contraception is not supported by the data.”5




Sources:

[1] Concerned Women for America. Abstinence: Why Sex is Worth the Wait [Internet]. July

1998. Available at: www.cwfa.org/library/family/1998-07_pp_abstinence.shtml. Accessed

October 16, 2001.

[2] Ibid.

[3]
Abstinence Clearinghouse. Data confirms that the abstinence message, not condoms, is

responsible for the reduction in births to teens [Internet]. May 17, 1998. Available at:

www.abstinence.net/ArticleDetail.cfm?ArticleID=168. Accessed October 16, 2001.

[4] Concerned Women for America. Abstinence: Why Sex is Worth the Wait [Internet]. July

1998. Available at: www.cwfa.org/library/family/1998-07_pp_abstinence.shtml. Accessed

October 16, 2001

[5]
Jones JM, Toffler W, Mohn JK, et al. The declines in adolescent pregnancy, birth and

abortion rates in the 1990s: What factors are responsible? A special report commissioned

by The Consortium of State Physicians Resource Councils [Internet]. January 7,

1999. Available at: www.abstinence.net/ArticleDetail.cfm?ArticleID=224. Accessed October

16, 2001.

Debate Round No. 2
McCainOffensive

Pro

In response to your request to post what I believe is effective, I will compare the two options(as there are currently only two main ways in which this subject can be taught) and measure success relative to each other. With that in mind, I intend to show that contraceptive based education is more effective than, or at least not as damaging as, the alternative. My arguments are results-based and hard data focused; I look directly at per capita teen pregnancy and birth rates to form my conclusions. I also noticed that in your sources, you cite no data beyond the early nineties. I have found many flaws in your assertions based on your data, and I request you post more up to date information for future arguments

Facts: (Guttmacher Institute [2013 report]; HHS studies [2007, 2008])

  1. By the age of 17, more than half of all teenagers report having sex.[8] This is the period of time when decision making skills are the poorest, and decisions are based more on the “here and now” rather than the vague future. [6][7]
  2. Contraceptive use is up considerably; both condoms and hormonal birth control are used more frequently individually and in tandem. While neither on their own is 100% effective, studies have shown a failure of around 6% for condoms and 9-10% for hormonal contraceptives. This is when each form of contraception is used separately. Used together, chances of failure that result in unwanted pregnancy are less than .2%. The rates of dual contraceptive use are up as well. [8]
  3. My previous argument showed that the states with the highest rates of teen pregnancy are the states restricted to an abstinence only education. The states with the lowest per capita rates of teen pregnancy are the states that provide comprehensive sex education. This shows that CSE does have a positive effect. [2][3]
  4. As one of my sources stated in my last post, abstinence is ineffective in its stated goal: to reduce sexual activity through abstaining from sex. It may even be counterproductive.[5]

Rebuttals

…many abstinence-only advocates are deeply concerned that information about sex, contraception and HIV can encourage early sexual activity among young people.

Abstinence only advocates may believe this, but the department of Health and Human Services and a recent study conducted by the University of Washington has shown that this is false. Providing information on sexual activity does not encourage teenagers to have sex.[4][5]

The problems that have become so entrenched in our country, such as AIDS, illegitimate births, poverty, increasing crime and the breakdown of the nuclear family, can all be attributed to the debilitating effects of a public policy that condones sex without love or responsibility.

Crime is not increasing. This is a public misconception; violent crime has been decreasing since the early nineties, and is continuing to decrease today. I have no data on the breakdown of the nuclear family, but illegitimate births and the spread of HIV have all been on a downward path in recent years. Your claim regarding “sex without love and responsibility” is also misleading. The majority of teenagers who report having sexual intercourse claim that they have done so with a steady partner. [8]

…abstinence and decreased sexual activity among sexually active adolescents are primarily responsible for the decline during the 1990s in adolescent pregnancy, birth and abortion rates. Attributing these declines to increased contraception is not supported by the data.

Contraceptive use decreases the chance of pregnancy by upwards of 94%. Use of contraceptives has increased relative to previous years. As contraceptive use has increased, pregnancy and birth rates have gone down. The decline in abortion rates is due to a lack of access, with many states restricting the rights of underage girls to obtain an abortion procedure. [10]

Clarifications

Huh? What’s not feasible? Abstinence has been there for many years now, so what’s not feasible? Please provide evidence how abstinence is not feasible.

Perhaps “feasible” was not right word. It would be better to say that it is unreasonable to expect constant adherence to the principles of abstinence, especially when drugs and alcohol enter the picture. It is well documented that teenagers lack the ability to make accurate decisions and consider the real consequences of their actions[6][7]. That was the point of my fifth paragraph. For a significant minority of teenagers, the decision to engage in sex is not thought out, impulsive and done in the heat of the moment, often under the influence. Wherever there are teenagers seeking alcohol or drugs, it will be provided. Combine this with the effects of peer pressure and you have the conditions for a bad decision. [6][7]

Points

The American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Guttmacher Institute, Advocates for Youth, and many more organizations have all stated official support for comprehensive sex education. These organizations cite the failure abstinence only programs to delay or reduce sexual activity, as well as the relative success of comprehensive sex education programs in the states where such programs are part of the curriculum, as the reason for this decision.

There is no evidence, at all, to suggest that providing sex education increases sexual activity.[4][5] What has been shown to encourage risky sexual activity is exposure to peer pressure, which only increases as time wears on. The effects of peer pressure and social status incentives are one of the highest motivators for developing adolescents. [6]

In the medical and psychological communities, sexual activity after puberty is considered to be inevitable and unavoidable[9]. It is the position of the advocates for comprehensive sex education that teenagers need to be taught how to correctly prevent the spread of STI’s and reduce the risk for unwanted pregnancy.

As I said in the beginning of this argument, I measure the success of these programs relative to each other. An absolute measure of success is vague, and has the potential for erroneous results. I can and have shown the relative benefits of CSE through the lower per capita teen birth rates in states that teach CSE compared to the higher per capita teen birth rates in states that teach abstinence only education.[2][3]

Using the metric of relative success, it is clear that abstinence only education has failed[4][5]. It has been shown not to delay sex, or reduce sexual activity in any measureable way.

Evidence shows that the majority of adolescents engage in sexual activity before marriage[8]. It is already happening and continuing to happen. It is morally, ethically, and socially irresponsible to not instruct these sexually inexperienced teens in proper use of contraception, which does reduce the rates of pregnancy and STI’s.

Sources

  1. http://www.unicef-irc.org...
  2. http://www.livescience.com...
  3. http://www.siecus.org...
  4. http://www.mathematica-mpr.com...
  5. http://www.washingtonpost.com...
  6. http://suite101.com...
  7. http://science.howstuffworks.com...
  8. http://www.guttmacher.org...

Juris

Con

I will intentionally forfeit this round because I barely have 8 mins left to post my arguments.

I will just post my arguments in round 4.

In the name of fairness, I am calling my opponent to please forfeit with acknowledgement the round 4.

Thank you for consideration.
Debate Round No. 3
McCainOffensive

Pro

McCainOffensive forfeited this round.
Juris

Con

Juris forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
McCainOffensive

Pro

McCainOffensive forfeited this round.
Juris

Con

Juris forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
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