Friday, June 19, 2009

Abstinence Only Education = More Pregnant Teenagers

I tweeted last night: Abstinence-only education=teens still having sex but not protecting themselves when they do. I predicted this in 1997.

The Guttmacher Institute released a new study by John Santelli yesterday that found that the reason the teen birth rate has begun to rise is that while teenagers are still having sex at the same rates, fewer are now using contraception.

No surprise. For more than a decade, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs have told teenager not to have sex and have withheld information about contraception and condoms. In fact, they have been prohibited from providing young people with information about contraception and condoms, except to tell them they don't work.

So, there should be no surprise that they don't use them.

And it shouldn't be any surprise that "just say no" doesn't work. As my regular readers know, I want to help young people delay getting involved in sexual behaviors they aren't ready for. I believe that most high school students aren't ready for sexual intercourse of any kind or to handle its consequences.

But, I also know that at least half of teens aren't going to listen to that -- and so I believe it is our moral responsibility to give them lifesaving prevention information.

This latest study demonstrates what happens when we don't.

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Desmond Ravenstone said...

Someone once commented to me that my brother and I seem to have avoided a number of health problems, especially obesity. My response: "Our parents taught us healthy eating habits early and often, especially the importance of moderation and of knowing what you're eating and when."

Would that we applied the same reasoning to sex.

A few years ago, a book came out called French Women Don't Get Fat. An overly simplistic title, but the book did show how the eating habits and culture of the French led to significantly lower rates of obesity and other health issues related to American eating habits.

Maybe the parallel volume would be ... "Dutch Teens Don't Get Pregnant"?

Lyn said...

Having attended private school for all my elementary and secondary education, I am not very familiar with how public schools, or federally funded programs handle this issue. But I do know what my Christian school did. They told us to wait until marriage, but then they told us about controceptives. The fist message came through loud and clear, but I know what a condom is, what the pill is, and understand patches, rings, IUDs. I also understand all the diseases you can get from unprotected sex.

While I have criticized my school's method in my own blog for being to negative, I must acknowledge the positive things it, and my parents taught me. I have one message:

DON'T GIVE UP ON TEENS. It's not impossible to wait until marriage. My parents did it, and as a young dating adult I intend on continuing to wait. I realize not everyone holds the value that sex exclusively within marriage is the ideal, but those who do should not yet the cries of "Impractical!" discourage them.

That said, parents and teachers should be honest with their pre-teens (because if you have that talk after age 12, it's late). Tell them about the pill, tell them about WHY you support or oppose abortion. Give them ALL the information so that they can make an informed choice. Telling your kid about condoms does't condone pre-marital sex anymore than telling them about brakes condones them taking your car out for a spin.