Classrooms across Long Island were empty on Thursday. Check our...

Classrooms across Long Island were empty on Thursday. Check our listings of delayed openings, closures and cancellations to see what's in store for Friday. Credit: Daniel Brennan

As a nurse who has worked with abstinence education programs in public middle and high schools throughout Long Island, I was appalled by Opinion writer Noah Smith's broad absolute statements ["A better way to discourage teenage sex," Nov. 8].

The comprehensive, health-based programs I have worked with are never "rules-based," not "hard but brittle," and never say or even imply that "sex is immoral and bad."

We focus on anatomy and physiology, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, infatuation versus real love, dating and self-respect. Yes, we tell our teens that abstinence is the only 100 percent sure way to avoid unwanted pregnancy and STDs -- still a scientific fact.

The teens begin to see their sexuality and fertility as something valuable that can be damaged irreparably by careless or impulsive behavior.

In framing his argument in terms of liberalism versus conservatism, Smith does a great disservice to a serious health issue. The issue isn't political, it's about presenting teens with accurate information and relationship tools -- including communication skills and parental support -- so they can make the healthiest choices for their best life.

Debra Pollard, South Farmingdale
 

Op-ed writer Noah Smith is right to call our attention to this matter. Young people are bombarded in the media with an attitude of anything goes.

Unfortunately, Smith has to disparage those who present abstinence as a model. He makes no effort to point out that those who present this model also talk about communication, relationships and involving parents -- all means he says Planned Parenthood uses in its Get Real program. To Smith, those favoring abstinence simply "tell teens not to have sex."

Smith concludes by suggesting that we "should stop using shame." A check with psychologists, psychiatrists, parents and people of faith may help him perceive that shame does have its place, when we wrong or hurt ourselves or another person.

Bernard Zablocki, Ridgewood

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