SUMMARY: SIECUS REVIEW OF WAIT (Why Am I Tempted?) Training?
WAIT Training contains very little information about the majority of topics suggested by SIECUS' Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education; K-12, such as puberty, anatomy, and sexual behavior. Even topics that are frequently discussed in detail in other abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, such as condoms and STDs, receive very little mention in this curriculum. Instead it devotes most of its lessons to the economic, social, and emotional benefits of marriage and abstinence before marriage. In these lessons, WAIT Training relies on messages of fear, discourages contraceptive use, and promotes biased views of gender, marriage, and pregnancy options.
Relying on Negative Messages
Messages of Fear and Shame—Trying to scare students and instill guilt
This focus on consequences is clearly designed to scare students rather than educate them. It is important to remember that 46% of all high school students and 63% of high school seniors have had sexual intercourse; it is never appropriate for a curriculum to suggest that these teens are less worthy of love, trust, and respect than their abstinent peers.
Withholding and Distorting Information
Contraceptive Options—Misrepresenting data
WAIT Training seems to suggest that it is acceptable to mischaracterize data on condom efficacy because teens are unable to use condoms consistently and correctly. The author assumes that if adolescents believe that condoms and other contraceptive methods are ineffective, they will abstain from sexual activity. There is no reason to think that this is true. Such inaccurate information may instead discourage teens from using these important prevention methods when they do become sexually active, thereby putting them at increased risk for unintended pregnancy and STDs, including HIV.
STDs—Providing incomplete and confusing information
WAIT Training's information on STDs is complicated and seems intended for a more mature audience such as health care providers. Teens may have a hard time understanding what testing entails and how certain STDs can be cured before causing long term damage.
Gender—Fostering myths and stereotypes
This lesson overtly reinforces a societal double-standard that suggests that men want casual sex from any and all women and that women do not desire sex as much as they feel the overwhelming need to be loved. In so doing the curriculum places all of the responsibility for refusing sexual activity on the shoulders of young women.
The Marriage Mandate—Promoting one lifestyle
This lesson seems based on the assumption that all students aspire to marriage, and in so doing discounts gay and lesbian individuals who are unable to marry, as well as the very real possibility that some students simply do not wish to marry. Although decisions about whether to move in with a partner are rarely relevant to high school students, the curriculum spends a great deal of time explaining why premarital cohabitation is wrong. It is not the place of an educational program to mandate relationship structures for young people.
Divorce and Family Structure—Depicting non-traditional families as troubled
Although this discussion is designed to make young people think of their future relationships, it would not be surprising if many students thought instead of their parents. It is unreasonable to put the burden of family structure on students who, as children, have no control over their current family situation. There are many reasons including divorce, death, desertion, cohabitation, and gay and lesbian partnerships, that students may live in a family that does not match the ideal model espoused by WAIT Training. Suggesting that these young people will face a lifetime of difficulty will only serve to distress and alienate many students.