The US has a Federally funded programme which encourages young people to remain celibate until marriage. The programme is known as the Silver Ring Thing, because the teenagers involved wear a silver ring (on their finger) as a sign of their commitment to celibacy.
According to , the US government is considering cutting the funding, following a report that one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease. And with some 750,000 teenage pregnancies a year, America has one of the highest teen birth rates in the developed world.
“This national programme which has wasted $1.5bn (£750m) of tax money is a failure and our teens are paying the price,” says Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood “We’ve been wasting money on programmes that don’t work and we’re seeing the consequences every single day.”
State governments receive federal money they must match to fund abstinence programmes. At least 17 states have opted out of the system and others have suspended funding while Congress investigates whether such programmes work.
Critics say there is no evidence that they delay sexual activity and teenagers who have taken a vow of virginity are less likely to use protection if they break their promise.”
Such teenagers do not get taught about contraception. As 15 year-old Mildred from Arizona says: “We get sex-ed classes in school and that should be where teens get the right information – but that isn’t happening.”
The argument in favour of abstinence is put by a Texan lawyer, who describes himself as a member of the religious right:
“I am convinced that abstinence is the only way for kids,” he says. “You begin […]