One of the biggest arguments that I’ve heard while discussion abortion online against teaching abstinence is the one that goes “But Abstinence Doesn’t Work.”
The U.S. Government has been trying for some time now to use some abstinence only programs. Some have had good success, others have not.
Why is this the case? Surely it’s a convincing argument that “if you don’t have sexual relations you have not chance of contracting a disease or getting pregnant?” And no, I don’t buy into the argument that “kids are going to do it anyway– that just sells them short.
I believe that the problem lies not with the school or the program, but with the parents. In fact, I would imagine that before sex ed classes parents were the primary if not sole source of sex education– and somehow you’re all here reading this so they must have gotten something right!
For many reasons, we have become an over-sexualized culture. (I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever reach post-sex, but I digress.) It’s come into our lives through media, through bill boards, and it’s no longer that weird guy on the back of the bus that knows, but everyone seems to– and part of this I attribute to sex education.
Sex and Santa Claus
Sex ed may have started out as a simple thing, but sex and innocence trade on the concept that people don’t know. It’s like the whole Santa Claus thing. When you’re a kid whose parents do the whole Santa Claus thing you believe that there is a Santa Claus, you believe that he brings your presents even if you don’t have a chimney, and until someone tell you otherwise you may have your suspicions, but you’ll believe in Santa for a pretty long time.
Now, if all of your peers at school don’t believe in Santa, you’ve got a problem trying to keep your kid believing that Santa is real. Same thing with sex. Innocence is kept as long as the child doesn’t know what’s going on inside their parent’s bedroom. Somehow the government believes it’s in the kid’s best interest to share this secret and shatter their innocence all in the name of stopping teen pregnancy, stifling the spread of STDs, etc.
I believe that they have made the problem ten times worse than it was.
Parents as the Cure
The truth was that the best means of fighting teen pregnancy isn’t using the rationality that “they’re going to do it anyway” to justify telling middle schoolers how to get it on and get it on safely, but to reach out to the parents with the information about just what dangers their kids are up against and getting them to do a better job parenting.
We have these commercials that come on my television saying “Parents- the anti drug,” “Stop Teen Smoking,” and “they’re in you’re car, why not talk about extasy,” but no campaigns to talk to their children about teen sex. Nope, can’t have a campaign like that.
Yet why is it good enough for all of these other problems and not for this one? If you look at the stats:
- Parent connectedness is the number-one factor in preventing girls from engaging in premarital sex and indulging in drugs and alcohol.1
- Girls defer sexual activity if their parents disapprove of it, and they are less likely to be sexually active if their parents disapprove of birth control.2
- Girls with involved fathers wait longer to initiate sex and have lower rates of teen pregnancy. Teen girls who live with both parents are three times less likely to lose their virginity before their sixteenth birthdays.3
- 76 percent of teen girls said that fathers influenced their decisions on whether they should become sexually active.4
- 97 percent of girls who said they could talk to their parents had lower teen pregnancy rates.5
And the list goes on. You see the power that a family– especially fathers– have on sexual activity? It’s astounding! If we were preaching this to parents we would see a dramatic change– but we can’t do that.
Parents are the Enemy
You see, it goes back to abortion. The area of sex in a child’s life is the one area where the state and government want to protect kids from big bad meany parents. This is why you have children able to get birth control and condoms from school nurses without parental notification. It’s why you can get transportation to Planned Parenthood’s abortion mill without your parents being able to call to find out where you are. It’s why your parents aren’t allowed access to your medical records after a certain age.
For some reason, the right for a teen to have sex and not have their parent know is the undiscovered amendment to our Constitution and it must be guarded at all cost. So, we can’t get the parents involved– because they might tell their child not to have sex. Then they won’t get STDs or have to pay for an abortion (so their parents won’t know that they killed their grandchild!).
We can’t trust parents to love their children, even if they do get pregnant, because some parents have– heaven forbid– grounded their child or cut of the relationship with the boy! Certainly there have been bad cases where something more severe has happened (bad parents) and I don’t mean to make light of it– but it’s never “let’s work with you and your parents” or “let’s have a counseling session with your parents.” It’s, “let’s get that baby out of you and your parents won’t even have to know.
So let’s be honest. We know how to cut teen pregnancy. We know how to keep kids from getting STDs. We know the single greatest tool to stop all of this, but we refuse to use it because we think kids deserve the right to play with dangerous relationships that wreck emotions and potentially kill the body.
Well, some of us aren’t.
- Journal of the American Medical Association 10 (September 10, 1997): 823-32
- R.P. Lederman, W. Chan, and C. Roberts-Gray, “Sexual risk attitudes and intentions of youth aged 12-14 years: Survey comparisons of parent-teen prevention and control groups,” Behavioral Medicine 29 (2004): 155-63.
- Lee Smith, “The new welfare of illegitimacy,” Fortune, April 1994, 81-94.
- Mark Clemens, Parade, February 2, 1997; E. M. Hetherington and B. Martin, “Family Interaction, “ Psychopathological Disorders of Childhoot (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1979): 247-302.
- Hetherington and Martin, “Family Interaction.”