Just Say No, NOT

Stepping back from the world of Caledon and Second Life in general for a moment, I feel a shoutout must be made regarding a real world issue with long range impact on all of our lives and families.

An authoritative study has finally been released regarding the long standing US policy to discourage comprehensive practical sex education in schools in favor of urging abstinence to teenagers or simply offering no sex ed AT ALL. The belief is that if students are given knowledge about responsible sexuality they were more likely to have sex, whereas keeping the entire concept hushhush would act as a deterrent. The policy has now been around long enough that researchers can state if the abstinence only/no sex ed approaches have been having the desired effect.

Anyone care to guess how that has been working out for them?

Needless to say (and see the posted article below for the data), the combination of enforced ignorance, magical thinking and desperate hope that an entire generation would suddenly go numb from the waist down failed miserably. In fact it seems to have had a negative impact, actually INCREASING the percentages of teen pregnancy and STDs.

I have always felt that this policy was absurdly naive and against human nature at best and tantamount to child abuse at worst, and I am sort of sad to see this opinion confirmed. Who knows how much disease, poverty and hopelessness has been spread by this wrong headed approach to sex education.

Hopefully this study will open the eyes of educators if not politicians, and a proper course of education on both the joys and the real and serious dangers of sexuality will be returned to ALL schools.

Since I am not holding my breath over the policy changing any time soon, I would like to urge all of those Caledonians who are parents (like myself) – PLEASE educate your children about sexuality at home, early and often, in a consistent and age-appropriate fashion. Guide and counsel your kids openly and honestly using your own best judgment and personal beliefs. Finally, make reliable information concerning sexuality and lifestyle choices available to them so they can make informed and supported decisions about their own futures. The life you save may be your child’s.

For an insightful look at what this study (and other recently released info) means in terms of realpolitick, as well as a vast array of useful and interesting articles and links related to the concept of Sex Education (and all things sexual), check out Violet Blue’s indispensable website and blog, Tiny Nibbles (NSFW and the home of the podcast Open Source Sex). As she quite rightly reminds her readers, she has been the canary in the coal mine over this issue from the beginning. More power to her.

The following is reposted from Reuters.

Comprehensive sex ed may cut teen pregnancies

By Amy Norton

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Comprehensive sex education that includes discussion of birth control may help reduce teen pregnancies, while abstinence-only programs seem to fall short, the results of a U.S. survey suggest.

Using data from a 2002 national survey, researchers found that among more than 1,700 unmarried, heterosexual teens between 15 and 19 years old, those who’d received comprehensive sex ed in school were 60 percent less likely to have been pregnant or gotten someone pregnant than teens who’d had no formal sex education.

Meanwhile, there was no clear benefit from abstinence-only education in preventing pregnancy or delaying sexual intercourse, the researchers report in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The study found that teens who’d been through abstinence-only programs were less likely than those who’d received no sex ed to have been pregnant. However, the difference was not significant in statistical terms, which means the finding could have been due to chance.

In addition, there was no evidence that comprehensive sex education increased the likelihood of teen sex or boosted rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — a concern of people who oppose teaching birth control in schools.

While comprehensive sex ed did not clearly reduce the STD risk, there was a modest, but statistically insignificant reduced risk of engaging in sex. The abstinence-only approach had no effect on either factor, the researchers found.

“The bottom line is that there is strong evidence that comprehensive sex education is more effective than abstinence-only education at preventing teen pregnancies,” said lead researcher Pamela K. Kohler, of the Center for AIDS and STD at the University of Washington in Seattle.

She told Reuters Health the study “also solidly debunks the myth that teens who learn about birth control are more likely to have sex.”

Currently, the federal government champions the abstinence-only approach, giving around $170 million each year to states and community groups to teach kids to say no to sex. This funding precludes mention of birth control and condoms, unless it is to emphasize their failure rates.

Critics have long pointed out that studies have failed to show that abstinence-only education delays sex or lowers rates of teen pregnancy.

The current study is the first to compare the effects of comprehensive sex ed and abstinence-only education in a national survey, Kohler noted.

Of the teens in the study, two thirds said they had received comprehensive sex education, while about one quarter had had abstinence-only courses. Just under 10 percent said they’d received no formal sex education.

There is now a body of evidence showing that the comprehensive approach may cut the odds of teen pregnancy, without increasing the likelihood of teens having sex, according to Kohler.

However, she added, “there seems to be a gap between scientific evidence and policy change.”

SOURCE: Journal of Adolescent Health, April 2008.

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2 Comments

  1. Y’know, I could’ve told them this ten years ago; any of us could have, from lay sex educators up to the Surgeon General who was deposed for the suggestion that masturbation, at the *least*, be offered as an alternative to *nothing*.

    *We* knew it wasn’t going to work. And yes, it’s disappointing, disheartening, and downright depressing that, even with the studies now out, *things won’t change*.

    I loathe the fact that some dubious religious theocracy is now calling the shots at all levels of this country’s educational system. It. Needs. To stop.

  2. i know you wrote this ages ago…but this is a fantastic blog, and it popped up in the related links to a blog i wrote about abstinence-only a couple days ago. :)

    thanks for posting this!


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