Seventy eight percent of West Virginia ninth grade students are abstaining from sex. Yet, this percentage drops to 32% for twelfth grade students. We are missing a great opportunity.
Youth who are abstaining from sex can serve as a great resource who can encourage their peers to make right choices. Youth who are not sexually active enjoy helping their peers as a peer counselor. They also gain speaking skills and a mutual support group.
There are many benefits for youth who decide to wait to have sex. Here are a few:
- Young adults who graduate from high school, get a full time job and wait until 21 and married before having children have a 7% chance that their children will live in poverty. Those who don’t follow any of these rules have a 74% chance that their children will live in poverty.
- Couples not sexually active before marriage report higher levels of romance, are more likely to be faithful in marriage and have a lower risk of divorce.
- Being sexually active is correlated with higher rates of self-destructive behaviors such as much higher rates of using alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and other drugs, running away from home, being arrested by the police and suspended from school for both boys and girls.
- In addition, sexually active girls (ages 12-16) have a two or three times higher risk to be lonely, upset, or tense, five times higher risk to consider hurting themselves and six times higher risk to attempt suicide.
There were 2920 teen pregnancies in West Virginia in the most recent reporting year (2013), and 1416 births in 2017. These births cost taxpayers $37,953,000. Why not leverage the positive message that can be given to peers by youths who are abstaining from sex. Such a program will pay for itself and save taxpayers countless dollars.