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American College of Pediatrics Blasts Medical Group for Promoting Myth of “Safe Sex”

© Corinne SIMON / CIRIC

American College of Pediatrics - published on 10/06/14

Recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics put kids at grave risk

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in its [recent] policy statement Contraception for Adolescents, promotes the myth of “safe sex” while ignoring the dire consequences that early sexual activity can have upon young people. Even when contraception is used, early sexual debut has been associated with negative consequences including multiple sexual partners, sexually transmitted infections (STI), increased likelihood of psychological injury (feelings of regret, depression, suicidal attempts), greater substance abuse, and lower academic achievement. Delaying sexual activity, ideally until marriage, has been associated with improved emotional and physical health, higher achievement, and a more stable marriage.

The AAP erroneously conveys the impression that sexual activity is an expected recreational activity among most teens and that contraception is the answer. The authors state that contraception is a “pillar in reducing adolescent pregnancy rates.” Making this the central message of any pregnancy prevention message is ill-fated and, as history has shown, less effective than an abstinence message. While contraception can prevent pregnancy, it does not mitigate the negative consequences noted above.

The policy enthusiastically proclaims the greater effectiveness of pharmaceutical contraception over condom use, while blatantly ignoring the harms of promiscuous sexual activity to the individuals involved. The approach of the policy appears to subtly facilitate harmful behavior on the merits of reducing (but not eliminating) the risk of harm. The implied message in this contraception promotion is that early sexual activity is harmless as long as condoms and contraception are used.

Also, by emphasizing risk reduction (contraception), the statement marginalizes risk avoidance (abstinence).  The statement instructs physicians to encourage adolescents to “delay sexual onset until they are ready.” No mention, however, is made of delaying until marriage, nor involving parents in this all important life-decision. The statement in fact goes to great lengths to emphasize the physician’s legal requirement to keep all sex history away from the teen’s parents. Given the life-altering consequences of early sexual activity, it is a travesty to ban a parent from such a discussion. Research documents that teens benefit greatly from parental monitoring, oversight, and accountability. Teens with involved parents are actually more likely to delay their sexual debut.

Dr. Den Trumbull, president of the American College of Pediatricians, states, “Our primary message to adolescent patients must not be contraception, but rather the tremendous physical, psychological and even future marital benefits in delaying all sexual activity until after marriage. Anything less is a compromise.”
More information is available at this page: Sexual Responsibility.

The American College of Pediatricians is a national medical association of licensed physicians and healthcare professionals who specialize in the care of infants, children, and adolescents. The mission of the College is to enable all children to reach their optimal physical and emotional health and well-being. For more information about the College, please visit our website

Promoting the Myth of “Safe Sex” was originally published on the website of the American College of Pediatricians and is used with permission. All rights reserved.

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