Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ignorance-Only Sex Ed Pays Off

Associated Press reports that teen birth rates in the United States are up for the first time in 15 years and that births to unwed mothers reached an all-time high in 2006. Looks like abstinence-only sex education is doing its job: keeping kids so ignorant they don't know how to avoid pregnancy or so ashamed of their sexuality they don't admit it far enough in time to take precautions. The Guttmacher Institute has some interesting statistics on teen sexuality, including these: From 1995-2002, the number of teens receiving information about contraception declined while the number receiving abstinence-only education increased. Of the 750,000 teen pregnancies per year, 82% were unintended and more than one-fourth end in abortion. Teen pregnancy rates declined steadily 1999-2002. Despite this decline, the US still has one of the highest pregnancy rates among developed countries, almost twice as high as England, Wales, and Canada, and EIGHT TIMES AS HIGH as the Netherlands and Japan.
There's nothing wrong with teaching abstinence. It teaches girls (and even boys) that they don't have to have sex just because someone is pressuring them to do it. It's good to delay sex until they are mature enough to make informed decisions. But regardless of what you tell them, lots of kids are going to have sex, and they need to know how to protect themselves from the consequences.
In an interesting corollary, a recent study debunked the theory that teen sex contributes to delinquency. The new study found that the contrary was true. Teens who engaged in consensual exual behavior with each other were actually less likely to engage in delinquent behavior.


Shmee said...

Ugh, just more proof that abstinece only education only education is not effective.

Katydid said...

LOL No imbalanced teaching is ever effective. Never leave a kid ignorant but they also have to be taught that they may not be emotionally ready for some things. As in "If u aren't ready to get up at 2 am and feed a baby THEN work 10 hours on your feet to pay for diapers u might want to think again." As I know from experience, birth control can FAIL!

Anonymous said...

Amen, Katydid. I agree that it's important to tell kids their first option is to say no and there are plenty of good reasons to abstain. Not only can birth control fail, but too many kids feel pressure to have sex when they're not ready for it, let alone not being ready for a baby!