Women, just as men, are sexual beings, but the abstinence programs are reinforced mainly among women (Tolman 284). The issue about sexuality and adolescence gains importance right from adolescence when puberty begins. Abstinence programs are a means to disempowering women because women are not given the chance to express their feelings, observations, knowledge and experiences.
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The abstinence programs are centered on women, who have to carry the weight of it all while the men enjoy every bit of their sexual lives. The abstinence programs seem to emphasize on sex avoidance instead of helping the individuals handle their sexual desires. The abstinence programs delineate sex as an abomination, and without proper guidance, individuals tend to think that their sexual desires are also unacceptable. As a result, these individuals become confused, and it becomes difficult for them to control their sexuality in a healthy manner (Tolman 286-7).
The education program supported by SIECUS is not restrictive as to teach about abstinence outside marriage only, rather, it has taken up a more practical approach. This education program appreciates the notion of sexual desire; hence, fearful and shameful messages are not used to describe sex. SIECUS is in favor of sex education that promotes delayed sexual activity until an individual can face the consequences of his or her sexual behavior.
Seemingly, this program seems to encourage responsible sexual behavior by encouraging the use of condoms. Sexuality is part of life, and instead of creating a lift between sexuality and man, SIECUS has opted to embrace it with the aim of reducing adverse consequences associated with unhealthy sex. The education programs by SIECUS targets adolescence because they are perceived to be at high risk of sexually transmitted diseases and accidental pregnancies (Jemmott III, Jemmott and Fong par. 1).
I am not surprised by the findings revealed by SIECUS. These findings have only confirmed my speculations. Adults spend most of their time promoting and reinforcing abstinence among the adolescents and young adults, without factoring in their sexual desires. Human beings were created as sexual beings, and sex is inevitable. Preaching abstinence is not the way to go, but safer sex should be encouraged because just as SIECUS’s results indicate, there is no apparent significant difference in sex engagement between the participants in the abstinence only program and those participating in other programs.
The abstinence program by SIECUS differs from Scarleteen’s comprehensive program in various ways. First, Scarleteen’s program is individualized, that is, it offers specified intervention to specific individualized cases. In addition, this program is more practical because it handles each case with its own uniqueness and offers practical interventions for each case, including making referrals.
Also, Scarleteen is interactive, and the youth can pose questions to experts online. Seemingly, SIECUS takes up a research-based based approach, while Scarleteen, due to its practicality, goes a notch further to devise feasible and effective solutions to solve sexual issues despite the fact that these solutions may not have been subjected to scientific evaluation.
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The Scarleteen website (“Sex ed for the real world” par. 1) is doing a great job by creating awareness and empowering the youth on matters related to their sexuality while embracing technology. Scarleteen achieves this by answering questions, training, and mentoring those taking part in the comprehensive program.
But, being a program that targets all populations across the social ladder, some disempowerment may be realized in lower socioeconomic groups that may have different needs compared to those of higher socioeconomic groups. In addition, some online messages may be perceived in a manner that is not intended. Also, the fact that Scarleteen supports the different sexual orientations may bring about conflict within an individual as he or she may doubt the ethical principles governing the program.
Jemmott III, John B., Loretta S. Jemmott, and Geoffrey T. Fong. “Efficacy of a Theory-Based Abstinence-Only Intervention Over 24 Months: A Randomized Controlled Trial with Young Adolescents.” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (2010): 152-159. SIECUS.
“Sex ed for the real world”. Scarleteen, 1998.
Tolman, Deborah. (2012). “Doing Desire: Adolescent Girls’ Struggles for/with Sexuality.” Feminist Frontiers. Ed. 9th ed. Verta Taylor, Nancy Whittier, and Leila Rupp. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. 284-294. Print.