The problematic (a) - (h) in abstinence education

Michael Young, Eva S. Goldfarb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This paper provides an overview of the (a) - (h) definition of abstinence education contained in the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. There are several issues involved, including: wording of the legislation and implementation by federal agencies and states, the restriction of access to information, the definition of the term sexual activity, the marriage standard, medical accuracy, and the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution. Federal involvement in abstinence education is discussed, including the Adolescent Family Life Act, Kendrick et al. v. Heckler and related suits, and abstinence education under welfare reform. Most Americans probably agree that young people would be well advised to delay the initiation of sexual behaviors that place them at risk for pregnancy and STDs. Nevertheless, there are significant concerns regarding the currently used federal definition of abstinence education. Those who believe that sexuality education should truly reflect the characteristics of a democratic society should consider working to overturn the language in this definition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-160
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Sex Education and Therapy
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2000


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