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Let's advocate abstinence to our teens

By Brian Harradine - posted Thursday, 24 February 2005

Here’s an interesting exercise. We know that by the age of 18 many Victorian teenagers are choosing to smoke, despite the risks to their health and the health of others.

Now consider VicHealth’s message to teens advocated in the Herald Sun earlier this month. Did it say that we need to affirm their choice to smoke and minimise the risks? Or develop and implement a comprehensive, world’s best-practice policy on “Safe Smoking”? Or empower teens with skills in negotiating “Safe Smoking”?

Of course not.


But that’s the approach VicHealth’s CEO Rob Moodie advocated recently. Not about smoking mind you, but about providing even more sex education to teenagers in the hope that giving the green light to sex will reduce the abortion rate.

Why the double standard?

Unlike the approach to smoking, the view shared by the well-funded sex-ed establishment is that if teenagers are experimenting with sex, then we’ll affirm their choice and help make it “safe” and “positive”.

I’m sure that many who hold this view sincerely believe their approach will work. But those who want to impose a uniform sex-education curriculum on Australian school children ignore that there is another powerful, well-documented, well-researched viewpoint. It is a view to which I, many of my colleagues, vast numbers of Australian parents and growing numbers of teenagers subscribe. Our children deserve a better understanding of relationships, love and sex.

Hundreds of new websites - secular ones like, and faith-based ones like - provide teens and their educators with up-to-date information, reinforcing the positive health and emotional benefits of not engaging in early sex.

The runs are now on the board.


Research released last year from the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health states: “Teens who participate in virginity pledge programs and respond affirmatively to the messages in the program are far less likely to engage in risky behaviours and will have far better life outcomes than those who do not.”

Better life outcomes, better health, fewer sexually transmitted infections, an increase in self-esteem and self-worth, and fewer teen pregnancies.

It’s all good news. Good news which the US Department of Health and Human Services only last month was keen to pass on:

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Published in the Herald Sun on February 21, 2005.

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About the Author

Senator Brian Harradine was an independent Senator for Tasmania.

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