Chastity programs in schools

From this closed thread


Originally posted by Manda JO
8) Each year, kids would be given the opportunity to sign a form promising not to do drugs, alcohol, or have sex For that year. I say this mostly because I am sick to death of “chastity” programs that make it sound like their are two options: being a slut and waiting till marriage, and which totally fail to recognize that an unmarried person having sex at fourteen or sixteen is different from an unmarried person having sex at 22.

I’ve never heard of “chastity” programs, and the idea that chastity is somehow being enforced bothers me. IMO, the school isn’t there to teach or judge morals at all. Ethics, yes - no lying, stealing, cheating, or bullying. But to ask students about personal moral choices like having sex or using drugs… and reward them for the “right” answres? What’s next, having them promise not to have abortions or gamble?

Do students get graded on how well they keep their vows? What if they don’t sign?

And why does a high school need something like this, anyway? Does anybody really think high school students who want to have sex or use drugs are going to be influenced by signing a contract at school?

If they want to have sex, then I would assume they just would not sign the pledge.

Which works well for them because they like to think these things work.

Evidently. But the arguement falls apart when looked at logically.

I’m really not sure how one draws the line between “morals” and “ethics”:

M-W defines ethics as:

and morals as:

I am pretty sure their meanings are more distinct in formal philosophy, but I don’t know the details.

For myself, I feel like it is not only a good idea for a school to teach some sort of “values” framework (I loathe that word, but I can’t think of a better one), but is in fact inevitable: the examples of teachers is going to make an impression on students no matter what.

I don’t think many people would argue that a school should make no value judgements at all–reading writing and arithmatic only, and cheating, lying, and stealing are for your parents to teach you. The sticking issue is always which values are to be taught?

My own point of view is that one should emphasis values that have near universal acceptance among the population (cheating, stealing, violence are bad) or which have demonstrative long term benefits to the students at hand. Values of particular religious groups have no place in the classroom.

This is why I feel that it is a good idea to encourage kids to stay at least technically virginal until they are at least 18: pregnancy alone can really, really fuck up your life, and many kids are not real good at remembering to put on a condom or take their pill. I know several people that got pregnant in high school despite having all the birth control techniques in the world at their fingertips.

On the other hand, I think the idea of “abstenence until marriage” is strictly a religious view: I don’t see how a 22 year old or a 35 year old unmarried person having sex is harmful to themselves or to society: at that age one is presumeably adult enough to take precautions and deal with the consequences if those precautions fail. As a religious point of view, it ought not be taught by public schools.

As per contracts specifically, I only brought them up in the OP because they seem to be the fashion right now. And I don’t think it is inherently a bad idea. My word was more important to me at 16 than it is now, and I don’t think that is unheard of–I hadn’t been socked with the sorts of serious moral ambiguity you get later in life. I think if I had signed a contract not to have sex “until marrige” and I didn’t plan on getting married til my late 20s, (pretty common) I would have quickly figured out that that was unreasonable and that, since I was going to break it sometime, it might as well be now. On the other hand, if I had given my word that I would delay sex for a year, and then, 6 months later, gotton a serious boyfriend, I might have said to myself “Ok, I gave my word, so I’ll; wait six months, and not sign it next time.” If, in six months I was with the same guy and still wanted to have sex with him, the waiting would have done nothing but given the relationship time to solidify: if after three months the relationship blew up, I don’t think that there would have been any great tragedy that we had restricted our selves to heavy petting.
I also think yearly contracts could be a good defense against peer pressure: if you’ve signed a contract to never drink or have pre-marital sex, then it’s easily refuted “What? Your gonna wait til your thirty and get married and have sex?” whereas a year is a reasonable lengh.

Disclaimer: the following is MHO . . .

Ethics constitute a more-or-less universal code of behavior, and are rooted in granting others the sort of respect you desire for yourself because they (and you) inherently merit it. The “Golden Rule” is the usual short-form statement: if you don’t want to be lied to, cheated, stolen from, etc.–don’t do it to others.

Morals, on the other hand, tend to be tribal (for want of a better word). They’re more likely to be rooted in the survival of the tribe (and, by extension, its identity–"us"ness vs. "them"ness). Which is why “moral” behavior can vary from culture to culture–polygamy/polygyny being one example that springs to mind.

(Of course, there’s a problem: how should individuals and societies respond to those who cannot/will not act ethically, or even try? I wish I had a stock answer, but I don’t. I have known more than a few people who think that lying, cheating and stealing are perfectly fine ways to get ahead. I try to avoid them, and I generally support society’s attempts to do likewise. One thing I don’t think is effective is preaching their “immorality” at them.)

Repeat disclaimer: this is MHO; other, more religiously-oriented posters will no doubt disagree. And it may well be poorly expressed (it’s amazing how something that took a great deal of skull sweat to produce, and makes perfect internal sense, looks pathetic when put in print). But so far it’s worked for me, and I haven’t found anything better.

well, if you want to hear a high-schoolers perspective then here’s mine.

Not only are these “pledges” a waste of time and meaningless, they’re also insulting. Why should I promise not to have sex, do drugs, etc. Who am I promising to? Myself? or the school?
If I didn’t want to do drugs/have sex, I would recognize this and make a decision on my own. The matter of the fact is that you can’t say no on these pledges teachers hand out. If you refuse to sign it you’ll get hunted down by the teacher and they’ll want to talk to you about your decision because it’s a bad decision. They’ll then give you crap until you say, “Oh yes, what was i thinking, I’d never wish to do anything to harm myself.” Then you end up signing it anyways, no one means it (maybe a few).

Stupid pleges like this just rise up conversations after class about it. Get a group of 17 year old guys together and I don’t think that we’re going to be talking about maintaining our abstinence.

To be honest, i suppose the pledges could work for some people, but it seems like every health class I take they make us do something like it and the mentality, “Oh, here’s another one.” pops into everyones head.

I think that the (rather limited) value these things have is to get kids to sit down and think about these things and make a decision on their own before the issue actaully comes up. I do think this is a good idea, not just in dealing with sex and drugs and not just while we are young. We all tend to make spur of hte momment judgement, and we often later regret them. If schools can offer any guidance at as as far as sex/drugs goes, it is the chance to think out these things in advance with all the informatoin avalible. Not doing so often leads to making crucial decisions for very odd reasons.
You couldn’t really do this, but in my perfect world I’d have kids sit down and write out exactly what they would and wouldn’t do and why – i.e., “In the next year I won’t go below the waist because the idea makes me uncomfortable and i don’t have to do anything that makes my uncomfortable” or “Oral sex is OK but no sex because I am not ready to be a father” or “I will have sex, but only if my boyfriend is wearing a condem and I check to make sure I took my pill that day, because I am not ready to be a mother and birth control must be used carefully to be effective.”–something like that. And the things would be confidential, and the kids would keep them/destroy them.

“Dude, so how was your date with Jane Doe, huh? Did you guys, like, not do it?”
“We didn’t do it all night long!”

Yeah, kind of a stretch. :slight_smile:

As perfect worlds go, I think that one would be a fine one to live in.

And I think that’s the exact problem with these kinds of programs–the thing they fail to do is present “all the information available”–and they fail to do that in a way that any moderately bright kid can spot instantly. They fail to do that often enough that the crying-wolf syndrome is simply going to happen sure a gravity most of the time–avoiding drugs is a good thing in general, but kids experiment a little and find out that, contrary to program, smoking pot usually doesn’t turn one’s brain into the proverbial skillet egg. General abstinence until the point of maturity where one can take responsiblity for unintendend consequences is also a good idea in general–but kids will find out that fooling around, contrary to program, usually has no negative consequences at all.

Sort of a shame. How to fix that is relatively obvious–move more towards that perfect world–but even more unlikely.

To avoid a lengthy discussion of the meanings of words, I’ll just say that the “Golden Rule” is exactly what I had in mind when I said “ethics”. You shouldn’t steal because you wouldn’t want your own things stolen, you shouldn’t pick on others because you wouldn’t want to be picked on, etc.

I have no problem with the school teaching and enforcing rules like that, where there’s a clear victim. But I do have a problem with the school teaching “morals”, i.e., you shouldn’t do this because it is wrong, or because we want to protect you from yourself. Everyone’s morals are different, and if I want to teach my kids a healthy attitude toward sex and drugs, I don’t want the school to turn them into Puritans behind my back.

From the geriatric POV:

  1. Yes, I think students will be influenced to a degree by any program that teaches the type of behavior expected by society.

  2. Generally speaking, I agree with Mr. T that it’s inapropriate for a school to be teaching chastity. The school’s job is to teach math, English, history, etc.

  3. One justification for the chastity program is to offset the effect of “safe sex” instruction. Although those programs aren’t designed to encourage pre-marital sex, I believe that they do have that effect, because they provide implicit approval. There’s something to be said for giving equal time to the opposing POV.

Mr. 2001:

I guess for me I see “It’s best to delay intercourse until legal adulthood” is in the catagory of “golden rule”, in that it isn’t desireable to be the offspring of teenaged parents (though there are, of course, exceptions). I don’t look at delaying intercourse as a strickly moral/religious goal, such as keeping kosher or avoiding pre-marital sex or refusing blood transfusions, none of which I think are things schools should teach.

I think the line is pretty simple:

Children should be taught by parents and school and everyone they come in contact with if it is appropriate, those values which pertain to how their behavior impacts others. These things should ideally be taught as matters both of rights and of honor. We do not do things which harm others because it is not our right to do so, and we also wish to like ourselves and be honorable people. Harming others does not support these ideals. Just as we do not wish others to treat us badly, we would not like or respect persons who treat others badly, and therefore do not wish to be such people ourselves.

When it comes to matters of personal morality that don’t really have anything to do with anyone else, that is a much trickier matter. And trickiest of all is sexuality. I think it is the rare parent who * wants * their daughter to explore her sexuality by doing the entire football team, so I think there’s no harm in encouraging restraint, caution, good health practices, self-esteem, and birth control.

The problem, of course, and I know you’re well aware of this, Stoid, is that the Right thinks that teaching anything other than strict “don’t-touch-anyone-there-or-let-anyone-else-touch-you-there-until-you’re-married” is equivalent to advocating free-for-all orgies in the halls and locker rooms.

And it’s not, obviously.


Chasity, and other moral issues must be addressed by schools. If children are never taught basic good conduct, and the moral values that is the basis of civilised behaviour, then how are we supposed to maintain our standard of living?

I know some are in favor of anarchy, however it tends toward poverty. Poverty tends toward starvation and death. The wealth we now enjoy in this nation is a direct result of our values!

If you don’t belive me, then simply reasurch every nation that adhears to Isslam… they are all quite poverty stricken! Hunger and starvation is common in any of them. Communisam also could not keep pace with us because of the EFFECT of our morality.

If americans turn away from the morals of our fathers, we will devolve into a poice state, and with that comes either tyranie or anarchy.

Both will lead us back into poverty and a loss of the American dream, our standard of living.

Think about it.

Leaving the rest of this to other good Dopers who will assuredly pick it to pieces quite handily, might I suggest that you look up such countries as Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey or Brunei?

Hardly poverty-stricken. And quite Muslim.


I don’t get this fascination with the “morals of our fathers.” It seems to me that the current wave of morals going around is far more equal in terms of gender and race, and far more tolerant in other fields than that of 50 or 100 years ago. The corresponding “erosion” of morals that the conservative reactionaries harp on hasn’t been accompanied by a reduction in standard of living.

Today, I read that the Queen Mother’s wedding (in the 1920s IIRC) wasn’t broadcast on the radio for fear of unsavoury people wearing hats listening to it in public houses. In general, it seems that Western society as a whole is getting far less concerned with things that don’t matter that much – like outward appearances and what people do behind closed doors, and more concerned with things that do matter – like how you treat other people, and equality between all.

For a quick example, take the divorce rate. Sure, it has skyrocketed. But, is this necessarily a bad thing? Does this represent a crumbling of societal values in general? IMHO it doesn’t – what it represents is that two incompatible people are now willing to put up with less shit just to have the rubber stamp of marriage on their lives. While it may traumatize children somewhat, I honestly think that divorce is common enough that there is no stigma anymore in coming from a “broken home.”

Schools should teach the value of abstinence, as not having a child during high school increases the amount of time one can spend in school, college, etc. But what schools should really focus on (in health class, or where these things are taught) is preparation of youth for their adulthood. They should teach about birth control, they should teach about the dangers of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. Kids may not get this stuff elsewhere. It should be goal oriented, where the goal is training for adult responsibilities, where the child has a knowledge of the range of choices and their possible consequences. Everyone is faced with different choices in life, and school should be preparing one for those choices. Focusing on abstinence is putting the blinders on for 90% of the choices, and will leave the vast majority of children totally unprepared.


This is the job of the child’s parents. Not the school system.

After all, different parents have different moral values. Although most parents seem to agree to some form of “do unto others” as a Good Thing[super]tm[/super].

Teachers need to concentrate on what they’re supposed to be teaching - the 3 “Rs” as it were - and not on what the children should be learning when they’re at home.

IMHO, of course.

OK, I’ve thought about it, but I think our interests as a nation would be better served if our children were taught basic English, critical thinking, and current events.

Please welcome our newest member, Pat Buchanan.