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The U.S. Debate on Appropriate Sex Education

Moral and religious values are an essential element of the U.S. debate about sex education. Both abstinence-only advocates and advocates of comprehensive sex education that includes abstinence have found allies among religious groups. Also, studies indicate that teens who are actively involved in congregations are less likely to engage in sex or to become pregnant. On the other hand, young mothers are more likely to have babies that die and children who have health and learning problems. Young mothers are also likely to drop out of school and end up in low paying jobs or on welfare.

A 2006 uptick in teen pregnancy and abortion rates, after a decade of declines, fueled the controversy, as did the decision of the Obama Administration to defund abstinence-only programs and to support programs that are supported by scientific evidence of their effectiveness. To help interested persons understand the debate, gather background information, identify the various groups involved in the discussion, locate relevant studies and polls, and connect with experts, ReligionLink, a sister website of Religion Newswriters Association, a member organization that promotes and supports excellence in religion news reporting, published an online resource page that provides excellent perspective, data, and resource links. For additional research on youth, explore the links provided in our article, "Best Resources for Youth Research."

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