April 10, 2021

Wanna Lower the Teenage Birthrate?

Lovers 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.

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  1. Journal of the American Medical Association 10 (September 10, 1997): 823-32 []
  2. 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. []
  3. Lee Smith, “The new welfare of illegitimacy,” Fortune, April 1994, 81-94. []
  4. 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. []
  5. Hetherington and Martin, “Family Interaction.” []

27 thoughts on “Wanna Lower the Teenage Birthrate?

  1. But some parents couldn’t care less. Just because you are a responsible parent doesn’t mean everyone is. Many parents prefer to ignore what their children are doing. And I bet you most of the parents whose daughters get pregnant as teenagers would encourage them to have an abortion because they wouldn’t want the responsiblity of raising another child. Before you change the law you have to change the attitudes of the parents.

  2. Yes, let’s change the parents’ attitudes so that they only reflect ultra-conservative, Republican, Christian-infused, lemming-like mentalities. That’s a fab idea. How do we start??

  3. 76 percent of teen girls said that fathers influenced their decisions on whether they should become sexually active. This statistic is misleading. I know personally if my step-father (A man who had been around me for well over half my life) had said don’t have sex it would have affected my decision. It would have affected my decision so greatly, I would have gone out and gotten myself laid the day he said it. Just because the parents opinion has an effect on the children’s choice doesn’t mean it was a positive one, and I know I’m not the only girl out there that would have had sex just to spite someone they hate.

  4. Buffy, I would argue that most parents don’t realize the amount of influence they have over their children. The media and the education system has tried to convince them that their peers, their schools, etc. have more influence and that their kids are going to do it anyway. They’ve been sold a lie, and if they were educated I believe that we’d see a change. Think about previous generations and the teen pregnancy rate– you don’t hear about that being a problem until only recently after the free-love generation. Without any stats to back up your assumptions, they are just that, assumptions.

    Musicguy, I said nothing here about any of my moral views. That’s the baggage that you bring to the discussion. Simply put, I don’t know of many men that would actually like to see their daughter in playboy, sleeping with many men, contracting an STD like HIV, or becoming pregnant. As far as I know, a majority of parents want what’s best for their kids which is why they save thousands of dollars to put them through school, etc. If they were to have the education to realize that they are not powerless in the battle for their children’s purity, do you think they would just shrug it off and say “whatever”? I’m sure that a small percentage might, but there are many that would stop saying “go sow your oats” and more saying “wait until after college.”

    Loc, I understand that the wording is not clear. I would have to do a little more digging into the source to see how the question was worded. Suffice it to say that Fathers and Mothers are key to influencing the sexual behavior of their kids, but society does not want them to exercise this because of their beliefs. They’re hypocrites– arguing both that kids should be free to experiment, but that we want to keep them shielded from the responsibility of their actions: mainly, pregnancy, diseases, and emotional baggage. We’re hypocritical when we say “don’t do drugs”, “don’t smoke” and then say “have safe sex”. Why not say “do drugs safely” or “smoke safely”? We even mandate that they shouldn’t drink before a certain age to try to protect them, but when it comes to sex, we tell them to go have fun knowing that STDs are passed regardless of whether you’re wearing a condom, that condoms break, that no plastic can protect you from emotional scaring, and that pregnancy can lead to having to make the decision of whether to end the life of a child.

  5. “Musicguy, I said nothing here about any of my moral views. That’s the baggage that you bring to the discussion”

    Ok then. How would you catagorize your thoughts on this subject? Liberal? democratic? Leftist?

    Then again, if you’re going to lie to kids like you would lie about Santa, or hide the truth from them in the hopes they won’t figure it out by reading an encyclopedia (gasp), I’m not really sure how you’d catagorize that mess.

  6. My views on the subject are as follows: I think that society is hypocritical about the best weapon they have to combat the problem of teen pregnancy which is involving the parents. Regardless of where this is in the political spectrum, I have demonstrated the facts as they present themselves. As so often is the case, you want to make the discussion about me and my beliefs rather than addressing the actual topic at hand.

    And no, I don’t lie to my kids about Santa Claus. They know he’s not real, they know that I bring them gifts because I love them and because we celebrate God’s greatest gift to man– His Son Jesus. However, it makes a good illustration because there are many parents who do this and that’s their prerogative.

  7. “We’re hypocritical when we say “don’t do drugs”, “don’t smoke” and then say “have safe sex”. Why not say “do drugs safely” or “smoke safely”?”

    Min, we say ‘smoke safely’ because as of yet we have not found a way to smoke safely, and we don’t say ‘do drugs safely’ because people who feel they are our moral superiors say we can’t. If there was a way to do drugs and smoke safely, I think it should be legal, and while the products should be illegal to youngsters without parental permission the safety equipment should not.

  8. Your analysis misses the point, however. We say “don’t do this” because it’s dangerous.

    Don’t smoke– because you might get lung cancer (even though there are some that never get it).
    Don’t do drugs– because you might become addicted, you might overdose, you might mess up your brain (even though we prescribe the same things).
    Don’t drink under 21– because you might get too drunk, you might drink and drive, you might not drink responsibly.

    In all these cases we put the strongest language possible– DON’T or it’s against the law– because we believe that it’s the best tactic given the potential risk. Yet in the case of sex, involving the parents and telling them not to do it until they’re in a committed relationship is taboo. Yet sex can take your life (HIV/AIDS) it can damage your body (STDs that make you infertile, cause you to get cancer, and effect any children you bear) and it can cause emotional damage that cannot be measured.

    Yet all society wants to say is “have safe sex”– there’s no such thing. Which is exactly why teens need to know where their parents stand, why innocence should be preserved, and why we need to get serious about this and stop having romantic notions about “sowing oats” or whatever.

  9. The only thing is when and what age to tell your children the truth. Kids mature so differently. I am struggling with this right now.

    My seven-year-old is already beginning to question. My husband shrugs it off, but being a Christian mom, I cannot. They must know the truth, or the lies that are given to them by their peers or tv, will become truth.

    And they may view me as old and archaic.

  10. Regardless of how they “date” you, it’s important that you get involved. Statistics show that it makes a difference. Especially if you can get your husband on board.

  11. Which assumptions do you want me to back up with stats – it sounds like we are actually more or less in agreement??

    Musicguy, being a really good parent has nothing to do with your political beliefs. It’s about taking time to be present in your children’s life and to talk to them on a regular basis about all their concerns. Not that common.

  12. “Musicguy, being a really good parent has nothing to do with your political beliefs”

    Perhaps. But I’d be willing to bet that you would be less likely to consider someone a “good” parent if they didn’t espouse your political, social, and moral beliefs.

  13. You know, I reread your comment, Buffy, and we agree– the whole point is that we have to re-educate the parents that they make a difference and should be involved.

    Musicguy, the key to being a good parent is being involved. Teaching your kids to think, to be civic minded, and pass on what you believe is important. I just got done reading “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters” and although it’s not a Christian book, it did talk about the benefit of teaching your kids what you believe about God. But a majority of the book talked about the fact that spending time, not giving up, taking a stand, and loving them no matter what is key to raising strong daughters– and I would venture to add– strong children.

  14. I’m sorry Min, but whenever you make a comment similar to, “…Teaching your kids to think” I have to laugh.

    Teach your kids to think: unless of course it’s written in that book, in which all thinking is suspended.

  15. Same for you, Musicguy. When it comes to “that Book” you decide that it’s irrational and that anything coming from it must be wrong. And then you go a step further and believe that if someone believes in “that Book” that regardless of whether the line of thought is rational or not, whatever they say must be wrong.

    It’s the same kind of “non-thinking” you claim we do, and just as prejudiced.

  16. Musicguy you said: But I’d be willing to bet that you would be less likely to consider someone a “good” parent if they didn’t espouse your political, social, and moral beliefs.

    It depends which political, social and moral beliefs.

    Political – Unless they’re very extreme it makes no difference. I have friends who are very Conservative and ones who are socialist. Makes no difference to whether I think they are good parents.

    Social – as long as they taught respect for other people and to always behave politely and not hatefully – what else did you have in mind?

    Moral – if they taught their children it was OK to bully, lie and cheat to get what they wanted yes I would probably think they were bad parents. However, there are a lot of moral grey issues and I think the parents’ specific values here are less important than their ability to spend time talking with their children and really understanding where they are coming from. Better an involved parent with slightly dodgy morals than an upright one who compleletely neglects their children.

  17. “When it comes to “that Book” you decide that it’s irrational and that anything coming from it must be wrong.”

    Ah, you assume too much! As Carol (I think) said in a different thread, even fables have some value, and I would agree. The same is true for the bible, though I put it in the fable category. You can take something from every piece of literature in the entire world, and make it useful, in one way or the other.

    The difference is that I acknowledge the fact that any work of literature can be utter BS. You’re religious beliefs do not allow for that leap in regards to the bible.

  18. Musicguy– By definition, by beliefs have to have some source, and it’s the Bible. So, one should believe in it (and I’m not talking blind faith) or one should go somewhere else. Teaching children to think and teaching children about the Bible are not mutually exclusive simply because you’ve come to a different conclusion. It’s the epitome of self aggrandizement and folly to believe that you’re logic and what you believe is the only correct way to perceive things. Or does that only apply to people that disagree with you / believe in the Bible? 🙂

    ETH – As you can see in this thread, sometimes comments come from having a controversial subject, although your posts on homeschooling seem to fit that trend. Just give it some time.

  19. “It’s the epitome of self aggrandizement and folly to believe that your logic and what you believe is the only correct way to perceive things.”

    No, I acknowledge the fact that there are multiple ways to perceive something. However, what I don’t do is say it must be that way cause the old book says so. If an argument holds merit on its own, that’s fine. But so frequently, the “ace in the hole” as it were, is “the bible said so”, which effectively cuts off any worthwhile debate. A useful tool to some, but it’s considered an utter lack of critical thinking by others.

  20. You’ve effectively demonstrated your own hypocrisy. I write an article about lowering the teenage birthrate by using parents– something that society does not wish to do. What do you choose to talk about? The merit of the argument? The pros and cons of the proposition? The effectiveness of the solution?

    Nope. You choose to bring up the Bible in an attempt to discredit the post by attacking the presenter. That’s not having a debate on the issues, as you claim that you’re doing. That’s trying to poison the well because you don’t have anything to say on topic.

  21. Yes, play the wounded card. You can’t complain about the inclusion of the bible after you used it in your own comments in this thread. That would also be hypocricy.

    I already commented on the mreits of your idea: you’re attempting to create socially, morally, sexually conservative households where they do not exist, and it won’t work. Search for middle ground instead of trying to pull the entire country into an ultra conservatice mindset, and then you might have a concept that can spread.

    The only thing I can give you is that parents need to be involved. duh. but you need to realize that even of they’re involved, they might not be saying the same things to their kids as you will, and that’s fine.

    Sex education is not the problem here. Your use of it as a scapegoat is unfortunate. The idea that EDUCATION is a bad, unnecessary element to life is just shocking and scary. uneducated people don’t make the world a better place. they just keep messing it up for the rest of us.

    But what do I know, I’m just here to poison the well. My apologies if you’re already sick and tired of having to defend your positions.

  22. I have no problem talking about the Bible, but I do have a problem with a constant focus on the Bible and myself as a person rather than the issue. What is happening (as anyone who reads this thread will clearly see) is that you attempt to make me the issue, not the topic at hand. You do this here and over at Amanda’s site. You’re a smart guy, so start using your intellect to tackle the problem instead of the presenter and maybe you’d find that we could actually get something done.

    I’m not attempting to create “socially, morally, sexually conservative households where they don’t exist.” I’m attempting to say that if teenage pregnancies are as big a problem as we keep saying that we are, then we should be using all the tools at our disposal, including one of the biggest tools, the parents. Otherwise, we’re just being hypocritical.

    I understand that some families are more permissive than others– some through ignorance and some by choice. If we educated the parents about the dangers that their children faced instead of just telling the kids we may get through to them. Teenagers notoriously have the mentality that “it can’t happen to me” whereas parents are much more likely to understand their own mortality. As the statistics I provided stated– parents are the ones with the greatest influence, not teachers, and yet we as a society have tried to neutralize them or take away their parenting role.

    It’s not a complete strategy by any means. I would think a complete strategy would include parents, school, and somehow de-sexualizing society. (As school is actually (in my view) an extension of the parents.) The government’s trying to implement one without the other two. And without the one that makes the most difference in a kid’s life.

  23. How do you explain then the low teen pregnancy rates of other countries such as the Netherlands and Norway?

    They have more sex education classes and they are countries that are far less religous than the USA.

    Their teenagers are sexually active. Are they naturally smarter than American kids in that they can avoid getting pregnant?

    I don’t believe that and I’m sure you don’t either.

    If teenage girls living in slums in the US were certain to get a decent interesting job when they graduated high school (nurse, hairdresser, mechanic as opposed to wroking in Fast Food all their lives) and could date boys also confident of getting a good job (plumber, carpenter, fireman as opposed to being some pimply teen in a gang and about to be in and out of prison all his adult life) you would see the numbers of teen pregnancies drop sharply.

    Girls would have true incentive to delay having children and the boys who used to knock them up would have pride in being productive members of the community, not one month sperm donors who measure their status of manlihood in how many [illegitimate children] they produce.

    Teen pregnancy has to do with class and life opportunities.

    A sixteen year old girl should have bigger dreams of recieving respect and power in her community than popping out her real life dolly as a way to become an adult.

  24. You make a point that I hadn’t thought about, Rachel. I certainly think that some of it has to do with the whole “wanting to be a mommy thing” but I can postulate two other reasons why our rate is different than that of European Countries:

    1. Culture- There’s a culture against children in those countries either because of fear of overpopulation (environment) and probably a higher rate of abortion as well. And it flows into the second reason.

    2. Welfare- The United States rewards those that have birth out of wedlock financially, such that it discourages marriage. In foreign countries a child is a financial burden on a family whereas in the US it’s more of a burden on your independence. So, there is financial incentive to have children.

    Still– I would say that the parents are the greatest weapon in preventing this problem, and that the most effective way all together is to get society on board as a whole and work on all avenues.

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