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Poetry and snark blogger who also has a creative side (who knew?)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Just Say NO to Abstinence Programs

Great news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention! 97 percent of teens report that they have received some type of "formal" sex education before age 18. With almost all of our teens educated about sex, we should be seeing a decrease in the teen birthrate and in sexually transmitted diseases, right? The teen birthrate actually increased from 2005 to 2007, and, according to a 2008 CDC study, 1 in 4 teenage girls has an STD.

What could explain these seemingly contradictory findings? Could it possibly be the quality (or lack) of the sex education our teens are receiving? Looking further at the CDC study, we find that only about 2/3 of teens have been taught about methods of birth control by the end of high school despite having had "sex education." What is it that they're learning? Could it be ABSTINENCE?

We love our "Just Say NO" programs. We tell our teenagers to say no to drinking, drugs, and sex and then pat ourselves on the back for a job well-done as parents and educators. This is utter BS!  Abstinence programs have increased dramatically over the last several years despite evidence of their ineffectiveness. A larger percentage of teens report that they received instruction on "how to say no" (about 84 percent) than on how to use birth control (about 66 percent). Well, given that the teen birth rate is rising, and a quarter of teen girls have an STD, it sure looks like abstinence is not altogether popular among the kids today! Indeed, the rates of STDs are no different among those teens who took a pledge of abstinence and those who didn't! However, males who took an abstinence pledge were less likely to use a condom than those who didn't take the pledge. You can't protect yourself or your partner from pregnancy and STDs if you don't plan ahead and take precautions; you can't take precautions if you can't admit you're going to have sex.

Maybe we should consider putting some education back into sex education and leaving the morality component to parents and religious institutions. Teaching "sex education" without teaching birth control is like teaching math without teaching multiplication. A little knowledge is just one step above complete ignorance.


  1. Parents don't want to believe little Bobby or Marylou are sexual beings at 12,13,14.

    My mom never explained anything to me.
    At age 11 or 12 when my period began..I thought I was bleeding to death and called her at work.
    At age 15 I got pregnant.
    At age 11 and 12 I still thought you bought a baby at the hospital.
    Kids are much smarter now with all they are exposed to.
    Parents need to talk about sex with their sons and daughters and provide contraceptives. Through the years I have come to believe that some parents believe that schools are their personal babysitters.


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