Thursday, July 26, 2007

Get A Clue, Big Brother


During the week of July 9 the US House of Representatives voted 291-126 to extend federal funding for "Abstinence Only" sex education in high schools. For those unfamiliar with this ultra-conservative political platform, it means that high schoolers are currently taught only to abstain from sex and are not taught about safe sex alternatives, condoms, STD prevention, the pill, etc.

Ironically, the US Dept of Health and Human Services released the results of a 9-year longitudinal study back in April, a few months prior to the House's archaic decision. The results? Abstinence only education programs have "no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence".

According to the New York Times, not all lawmakers are going for it. Reports the newspaper: "Eleven state health departments rejected abstinence education this year, while legislatures in Colorado, Iowa and Washington passed laws that could kill, or at least wound, its presence in public schools."

In my opinion, our kids should be learning it all, from the benefits of abstinence, to the realities of needing to use condoms, to having your potential partner take an HIV test, etc. But what do you think?

20 comments:

aromagik said...

I've long since thought we need a whole new batch of lawmakers in this country. Gotta wonder just how long it'll actually be before they start to get some semblance of a clue.

You'd think we'd have come a lot farther than this by now. *sigh*

~Lindy

MARCIA said...

"Eleven state health departments rejected abstinence education this year, while legislatures in Colorado, Iowa and Washington passed laws that could kill, or at least wound, its presence in public schools."

GOOD FOR THEM IS ALL I CAN SAY!

Jaid Black said...

Lindy, I agree... it's very sad. You'd think we were living in 1007 instead of 2007. With all the diseases out there our teenagers need to be better prepared. Keeping kids ignorant doesn't stop their hormones.

Jaid Black said...

Marcia, amen!

Susan Edwards said...

Amen, Lindy, Marcia and Jaid! A study was released just last week I believe indicating that teen pregnancy rates, which have been falling in recent years, have started leveling out and even increasing in some places. Researchers are attributing it to abstinence only education. I'll look it up to make sure and post when I find it.

Shayla Kersten said...

In this day and age, kids need realistic education not some bull that will force them to make a promise they won't keep. I know too many teenagers who did the abstainance pledge only because of parental or percieved teacher pressure or even peer pressure! "Oh if I don't do this everyone will think I'm a slut." Then they turn around and have sex anyway.

If they're going to spend taxpayer money, give them realistic options.

Parents need to get real too and not leave it entirely up to the school system. Too many parents don't want to face the fact that their babies are old enough to make babies in spite of what they learned in biology class.

Not to mention that what lawmakers spend on bullshit programs could go to pay teachers better salaries. They are the people shaping the minds of America's future!

Jaid Black said...

Susan, I think I saw that article too. It was either in the Washington Post or the NYT.

Jaid Black said...

I hear that, Shayla. My aunt has been a special ed teacher for emotionally disturbed kids for about 23 years now. She's upset b/c it looks like they will be going on strike when school starts this autumn.

The new superintendant is a real (cough) work of art. He says that b/c teachers don't work in the summer they should have to pay their own health insurance during the summer. (Um... hello???!!! They are already paid like slave fucking wages!!)

Asshole schmuck.

Susan Edwards said...

You were right, Jaid. Washington Post. But it wasn't pregnancy, just teen sexual activity. They said teen sex rates (which are tied to teen pregancy and seuxally transmitted disease rates) fell for more than a decade and then stopped. "The halt in the downward trend coincided with an increase in federal spending on programs focused exclusively on encouraging sexual abstinence until marriage, several experts noted. Congress is currently debating funding for such efforts, which receive about $175 million a year in federal money..."

Ciana Stone said...

Sigh. What makes anyone with half a brain think that simply teaching or advocating abstinence is going to stop young people from exploring their sexuality? I don't know about you all, but my parents were BIG into the Don't Do It mode of thinking, as was my school. And it didn't stop me. I'm not foolish enough to believe that it will stop others.

It's a fact of biology - we reach a level of sexual maturity and feel compelled toward the activity. Hey, we're biological entities. It's part of our makeup. So, while we can advocate abstaining, we certainly need to be smart and teach effective methods of birth control and SAFE sex. Otherwise, we're guilty of negligence. Not to mention stupidity.

You'd think the folks in government would be at least as smart as the rest of that and figure it out, eh?

Toni Lea Andrews said...

Have the people that say "abstinence only" developed amnesia about being a teenager? Don't they remember how the brain shuts off when the hormones hit high gear?? Have they forgotten the bad choices they themselves made???

Whatever your opinion on underage sex, THE KIDS ARE GOING TO DO IT. Not all of them, but an awful lot of them. Do these idiots really want to risk unwanted pregnancies and fatal diseases in their own children because they feel secure that having taught them abstinence is enough????

Ok, no more ranting. I've never had kids, and it astonishes me when my friends talk about their teenagers as if they'd never been one.

anny cook said...

My daughter (age 29) contracted HPV from her boyfriend-eventually-husband-eventually ex. She was 14. She now has pre-cancerous cells. Her grandfather is a minister who preached abstinence. I am more pragmatic and preached condom/abstinence. Boyfriend (schmuck) didn't like the way condoms felt. Sigh. Whatcha gonna do? Be there.

LA Day said...

As the mother of a soon to be 13 y/o daughter, I would love to believe preaching abstinence would work. However, I was once a teenager and I know it won't. I am very frank and honest with my daughter. She knows we can discuss anything.
At this point, she is still rather naive but I know that won't last forever. When the time comes, I hope I will have educated her enough that she makes wise choices.

Jaid Black said...

Ciana, agreed!

Toni, double agreed! It shocks me how so many parents of my kids' peers think their beloved little John and Jane Doe can do no wrong. My youngest goes to an all-girls Catholic school so the effect is even that much more pronounced. While I agree it provides a more sheltered environment, it hardly keeps them living in a bubble.

Jaid Black said...

Anny, unfortunatlely part of growing up is making mistakes, sometimes very costly ones. I think you've got the right attitude, though... just be there for her :-)

LA, I feel for ya, hon. I recall meeting your 13-y-o once and she's already quite a looker. I'm sure the boys are swarming like hornets. And on that bright, cheery note... good luck!!

Susan Edwards said...

I don't have kids. It takes more guts than I possess. All I know is what my mom did to keep four daughters from getting pregnant before walking down the aisle. Shame and guilt. She told us it would kill her and our father if we "got into trouble" and we believed her. She also implied that sex was basically a wifely duty to be endured, not an intimacy to be enjoyed, which I think is the most damaging way to keep kids celebate.
She not only preached abstinence, she encouraged us to keep a knife in our purse and a dime in our shoe. The first to fend off unwanted advances and the second to call her to come and pick us up. (Of course, by that dime, you know I hit adolescence a looooong time ago.) I won't say we didn't have sex before marriage, but then we did all get married when we were still in our teens.

anny cook said...

Oh, yeah, I remember that dime! Heh! When my girls were at that stage it was a quarter! Now? I guess it's a cell phone.

Susan Edwards said...

Lol! Praise the lord for cell phones!

katydid said...

There needs to be some balance here. Abstinence programs started as a backlash to the programs where kids were told it was their “right” to have sex whenever they felt they wanted to (no real discussion of the consequences, more “if it feels good do it”). Most teenagers can’t remember to feed the dog or mow the lawn; who thinks they are actually RESPONSIBLE enough to use a condom every time??? We taught our son about biology and birth control but we also taught him about respect for himself and the responsibilities of sex. Our advice was to practice abstinence until he was ready to be a parent. No, he did not wait until marriage but he wasn’t having sex at 13 either! Sex can be wonderful but it can also cause a lot of damage if you aren’t ready for the mental, physical, and emotional effects.

Susan Edwards said...

You make a good point, Katydid. I don't think anyone was saying they thought we shouldn't teach or advise abstinence, though. The original point was that abstinence-only education is failing to reduce teen sexual activity and teen pregnancy. Abstinence-only education means that kids are not taught about condoms (as disease and pregnancy prevention) or any other form of birth control. Abstinence is the only thing they are taught. That is dangerous because, as we all know, some kids are going to have sex regardless of what we tell them. If they do, they are going to at least have a chance of doing it more safely if they know how to.

I think the other issue here with teaching only abstinence, besides the fact that it inadvertently promotes ignorance, is that it ignores a basic psychological strategy in parenting: Kids are more likely to make smart choices and obey rules if they are given choices and good information, and taught how to evaluate their options and make the best choice. They like to feel like they have some control over their lives. If they don't, then they are going to do stupid things in the name of rebellion. It sounds like you gave your son the information and advised him to abstain from sex. I wish all parents would do that. Even though he didn't wait as long as you wanted him to, I'll bet he understands the consequences of unprotected sex better than a lot of his peers and is more responsible about his sexuality because of his knowledge.

I agree with you, too, that sex can be very damaging for children and young adults. Hell, it can be damaging for adults. The one thing I do like about abstinence education is that it places some of the burden for abstention on boys. In the old days, it was completely up to girls to say no. I do think it's still really important to tell girls that they don't have to have sex to have a boyfriend or be popular, and to teach them how to say no. Same with boys. I think a lot of boys are pressured into have sex way too early these days too.