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Abstinence only education is a form of sexual education. The purpose is to teach school age children that abstaining from sexual activity until marriage is not only the expected standard of behavior, but is also the source of great psychological, health, and social rewards. Additionally, this kind of program teaches children that all eventual sexual activity is to take place in a committed, monogamous, and heterosexual marriage.
Abstinence only education programs may teach students how to avoid unwanted sexual advances and encourage them to avoid drug and alcohol use.
Abstinence only education can only loosely be termed as a form of sex education. Children who go through abstinence only programs often demonstrate a marked lack of understanding of anatomy and biological function.
Often, abstinence only education works towards its goals by telling children that engaging in pre-marital sexual activity will likely lead to STDs, psychological distress, and unwed motherhood. It often stresses that a child of an unwed mother will suffer negative repercussions and damage society.
Concern has been expressed about the use of shame to discourage students from engaging in sexual activity and the focus on the purity of female body that frequently comes with abstinence only education.