One of the first things that came to mind when learning of abstinence only “education”, what it included, and what it glaringly omitted, was, “wait about five years, and we’ll start seeing firsthand the damage that kind of ignorance and misinformation can do to young people.”
OH HEY LOOKEE HERE:
The number of teen births in the U.S. dropped again in 2010, according to a government report, with nearly every state seeing a decrease. Nationally, the rate fell 9 percent to about 34 per 1,000 girls ages 15 through 19, and the drop was seen among all racial and ethnic groups. Mississippi continues to have the highest teen birth rate, with 55 births per 1,000 girls. New Hampshire has the lowest rate at just under 16 births per 1,000 girls.
So overall, this is a good thing. The rate of teen pregnancy is down among all demographics. The bad news, as one would expect, is that this drop is not uniform among all 50 states. In fact, there is a direct correlation between the rate of teen pregnancy and the quality of sex education that is provided in public schools.
Mississippi does not require sex education in schools, but when it is taught, abstinence-only education is the state standard. […] New Hampshire, on the other hand, requires comprehensive sex education in schools that includes abstinence and information about condoms and contraception.
According to the Mississippi Office of “Healthy” Schools (link above), “Mississippi does not provide state funds for school-related HIV, STD, or pregnancy prevention activities.” That sounds like a plan for success if I ever saw one. Basically, this means that the only type of education for which there is funding is the kind that not only teaches that abstinence is the only way to avoid STDs and pregnancy (which is true), but provides no other usable information if one’s decision making capabilities are compromised by the very real, inevitable combination of hormones, peer pressure, and intense curiosity. Because that never happens.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes these courses do give plenty of information about condoms and birth control. Too bad it’s all crap:
[One] curriculum goes on to falsely state that “the actual ability of condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS, even if the product is intact, is definitely not known.” Another curriculum says “the typical failure rate for the male condom is 14 percent in preventing pregnancy.”10 This statement is a distortion of the fact that given typical use, couples have a 15 percent chance of experiencing a condom failure over the course of a year; the failure rate falls to 2-3 percent with perfect condom use.11
Abstinence-only education programs also contain misinformation about abortions. “Sterility: Studies show that five to ten percent of women will never again be pregnant after having a legal abortion,” one curriculum says.12 In actuality, as obstetricians are taught, an elective abortion does not alter fertility.13
There was also this article that reviewed three different abstinence only curricula. Some of their key findings are below. Stop me if this is starting to sound repetitive:
- Me, My World, My Future and Sexuality, Commitment & Family presented the likelihood a condom would break or slip off to be anywhere between 0.6% and 44.5%, strongly implying that condoms are not reliable.
- All three curricula strongly imply that unmarried teens are not effective condom users and that condoms should not be made available to teens.
- Why kNOw is in the process of removing the “Speedy Sperm” lesson that directly implied that condoms are porous enough to let viral and bacterial particles, like Herpes Simplex, Syphilis, Gonorrhea and HIV, pass through and infect sexual partners. [“Speedy Sperm?” Are they for real? -ed.]
- All three curricula primarily cited references that were out of date or not from any peer-reviewed sources.
Basically the course is designed to scare kids into not having sex by knowingly lying to them. The problem is that it fails in that regard, but succeeds in convincing them to wonder what the point is in using condoms since they obviously don’t work anyway. The worst part of it all is that the people who put these programs together know what they’re doing. They’re not stupid. They just don’t care about the consequences of their actions because they know they’re doing the moral, just, and Godly thing. It doesn’t matter if there’s a spike in teen pregnancy or STI rates among young teens because they’re woefully unprepared to handle the possibility of sexual activity. They’re right. Whoever was foolish enough to have sex despite all of the warnings to the contrary is just suffering for their sins, and they have no one but themselves to blame.
Alternatively, we have that socialist hellhole New Hampshire, where the children are given comprehensive sex education, they generally engage in sexual activity less often, and enjoy a the lowest accidental pregnancy rate in the nation. (Of course, they’re also going kind of crazy with anti-abortion bills in recent years, so who the hell knows what’s going on over there.) I do know that we actually had a similar sex ed program to New Hampshire where I grew up. For as much as I would complain about pretty much every other aspect of that school system, that was something they admittedly did well.
I honestly don’t know what would convince the more backward states of our glorious union to abandon the propaganda and finally go with something that has a decent track record of success. It’s not as if the obvious pregnancy / STI rate would change the mind of anyone with the moral certainty of the kind of fundamentalist who would implement such a horribly failed policy to begin with … so maybe it would have to come down to money. The state gets federal funding but they have to teach their kids about icky horrible sex that we all know they’ll never have.
But, you know, that would just be “big government” being big and intrusive again. We have to keep it just intrusive enough to fit inside a woman’s uterus where it belongs! Okay, I’m done.