Friday, March 14, 2014

Abstaining from education

It's 2014, and yet there are still states that insist that their sex education in schools is non-existent or hopelessly backwards. While teen pregnancy rates are on the decline, some states are far behind.
Abstinence only education in a nut shell.

In the USA, girls ages 15 to 19 are reported to total over 300,000 teenage mothers. Over 80% of these are unintentional. When one looking at the statistics, you start to notice a trend. The states with the highest rates of teen pregnancy are typically the more conservative states that either have no sex education at all, or stress abstinence only sex education. The logic is that not having sex = you can't get pregnant... Which is ironic for people that tent to believe in a virgin birth. But what this kind of 'sex education' is, is commanding kids not to do something. And something they are biologically becoming interested in at that age.

As a teen, I wasn't typical, but what is the typical outcome of telling a teen "Don't do X" and justifying that with "Because I said so!"? The answer is that they of course usually doing it anyway. Be it out of curiosity of rebellion, the outcome is still the same. They did what they were told not to do. In some things, it might not result in much of a ramification. If you tried smoking, you'll likely end up with a coughing fit. If it was alcohol, hopefully there was no driving involved and a hangover is the price they pay. But with sex... There can be a myriad of consequences.

If anyone has unprotected sex especially with a partner you don't know much sexually about, the list could include an STD, an unintended pregnancy, or even HIV. Primarily, what statistics are showing is that states with abstinence only education report higher rates of STD infection and teen pregnancy than states that teach comprehensive sex education.

It turns out that regardless what kind of sex education kids receive (even if they take a virginity pledge) they are all equally likely to end up having sex anyway. The problem arises in how they have
sex. Those that were virginity pledges and those taught abstinence only were half as likely to use birth control of any sort, and twice as likely to have an unintended pregnancy. So the better informed the kids are, they actually seem to make better decisions.

When I was in high school, our sex education started with anatomy, STD education, talked about abstinence, as well as actual forms of birth control. I'd say that I was well informed. I understood the biology side of it, as well as the very real risks involved. But if your 'sex education' is to 'just don't do it', kids may not understand the risks and will just succumb to their desires.

Some will say that sex education is the parents job, not the schools, but the sad truth is that there are parents that just won't have that talk with their kids. Maybe their embarrassed, weirded out by it, or have religious motivation not to. Lets face it, some people are just bad parents. Instead of trying to tell kids not to 'do it' and just leave it at that, how about some alternatives.

Explain he risks. Maybe even go a step further and tell them what they are feeling is natural. That sex really is a pleasurable thing, but it is responsibility involved too. While enjoyable, there are risks. That while you'd prefer they waited, if they do have sex that they should wear a condom (if they are male, or provide one if female). Otherwise they can wind up with a terrible disease (exaggerate if you want... say they're member could drop off if they're not careful), or find themselves with the additional life-changing responsibility and financial burden of becoming an unexpected parent. Yes, it's true that sex can be great, but it can result in something terrible as well. So be careful.

And the oddest part about those that are very much in favor is that they are the very same people that
are anti-abortion. Someone using logic would think that they should welcome proper sex education. But they aren't using logic and instead rely solely on dusty old religious teachings. Buy why is their opposition to sex education ironic?

Remember, teens that are taught comprehensive education are half as likely to become pregnant. That's half as many teens that have to even decide if they should abort. Also, even if they don't use protection, emergency contraception avoids about 51,000 abortions a year. That number could be even higher should they not oppose it's use. The numbers tell us that abstinence only education = more abortions, while comprehensive sex education = less abortions. Awkward...

So can we just all agree for everyone's benefit to properly arm our youths with the relevant information so that they can make as informed of a decision on sex as possible?

-Brain Hulk

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