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Washington Needs a Reality Check

Read and discuss the following text.

"People should only have sex within a mutually faithful monogamous marriage." Different people will disagree about the validity of this statement, but few would say that it describes the experiences of the majority of American teenagers. Despite reality, the federal government says that all sex education programs must be based on this unrealistic principle.

The United States has the highest rates of teenage pregnancies and cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) of any developed nation. Furthermore, every year approximately 10,000 people under the age of 22 contract HIV-AIDS. The vast majority of these new cases are the result of sexual activity. Experts say that restriction to sex education, contraception, and condoms are the cause. They compare the United States with Europe, where teens can easily obtain contraceptives. While in European countries teenagers are as sexually active as Americans, they have less than half of the rate of teen pregnancies.

In 2004, National Public Radio, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government conducted a survey about American attitudes toward sex education. Thirty-six percent of Americans believe that schools should teach that abstinence is best, but that they should also teach teenagers about contraception. These programs are usually called abstinence plus. Only 15 percent of those polled believed that sex education should be abstinence only. This type of program only gives teenagers information about why they should not have sex before marriage. Unfortunately, according to current U.S. law, abstinence-plus programs receive no money from Washington. The federal government will only fund abstinence-only programs.

The following table compares the two types of sex education programs:

Abstinence-Plus Education Abstinence-Only Education
· Promotes abstinence from sex. · Acknowledges that many teenagers will become sexually active. · Teaches about contraception and condoms. · Includes discussions about abortion, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and HIV/AIDS · Promotes abstinence from sex. · Does not acknowledge that many teenagers will become sexually active. · Does not teach about contraception and condoms. · Avoids discussions of abortion. · Says that STDs and HIV/AIDS are reasons to remain abstinent.  

А 2002 report by AIDS Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco, concludes:

‘The growing prominence of the abstinence-only approach will likely have serious unintended consequences by denying young people access to the information they need to protect themselves. And abstinence-only programs risk alienating the young people at highest risk by promoting a "one size fits all" vision of adolescence that matches the true experiences of only a minority of youth.’

It's time for lawmakers to admit that the law flies in the face of reality. As much as we might not like it, many of our young people are having sex. If there is any sin here, it is not giving them the information that they need to protect themselves.

2) Find the English equivalents for the following in the text:

обоснованность (чего-л.), заразиться/подхватить (болезнь), ограничение чего-л., презерватив, противозачаточные средства, воздержание, доступ к информации, отталкивать, не считаться с реальным положением дел.

3) Answer the questions:

1. What sex education programs exist in the USA?

2. What is the author’s opinion of them?

3. What do you think about these programs?


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  • - Current Status

    Washington Needs a Reality Check Read and discuss the following text. "People should only have sex within a mutually faithful monogamous marriage." Different people will disagree about the validity of this statement, but few would say that it describes the experiences of the majority of American teenagers. Despite reality, the federal government says that all sex education programs must be based on this unrealistic principle.The United States has the highest rates of... [читать подробенее]