The Brazilian government is trying to teach their teenagers traditional moral values and will be promoting abstinence in a new teen sex education program.

The new campaign is titled “I Chose to Wait,” and was created by evangelical pastors according to the New York Times.

The government official behind the campaign is Damares Alves, the minister of human rights, family and women. Alves has been in contact with the pastors who created the abstinence program. “Our young people, by and large, are having sex as a result of social pressure. You can go to a party and have lots of fun without having sex,” Alves said

Brazil’s teenage pregnancy rate peaked at about 80 per 1,000 births in the 1990s. This was followed by a steady decrease in the teenage birth rate which “followed the global downward trend in recent decades, but remains stubbornly high, at about 62 per 1,000 births, well above the global average of 44 per 1,000, according to a United Nations report issued last year. The rate in the United States was 18 per 1,000 in 2017.” 

Some critics of Alves denounce abstinence education, alleging that it is unrealistic and ineffective. Those most likely to oppose abstinence education are abortion activists, like Debora Diniz who the New York Times cites as a critic of Alves’ plan.

Yet, Alves has responded to critics of the plan by emphasizing that the new abstinence program will complement, not replace, existing initiatives that already provide access to contraceptives.

“We’re working across ministries to offer additional material as people make decisions, the government does not wish to impose, but rather to inform, which strengthens autonomy,” said Alves in a recent article.

One could contend that the government shouldn’t be involved in the sex education business at all. Indeed, parents are better suited to discuss their family’s values with their children, not schools or the government. Yet, if the government is to be involved in sex education, teenagers should be informed about the benefits of abstinence.

If you want to learn more about best practices when discussing abstinence with your teen, see the helpful resources below. 

Additional Resources:

Talking Abstinence with Your Teen

Purity and Your Teen


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Photo from Evangelical Focus