Editor's Note: Abstinence funding is at risk! Rep. John Dingell (D-Michigan), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is letting an opportunity to protect teens from sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) and promote a healthy lifestyle slip through his hands. The funding for these programs is set to expire on June 30. As chairman of the Committee, Rep. Dingell controls whether this program will be reauthorized. Contact Chairman Dingell and the members of the Energy and Commerce Committee and let them know that "condoms as candy" is a bad recipe for our children! To take action, click here.
The teacher announced to her class of high school juniors, "Today we are going to talk about prom safety. We have had incidents in the past of out of control drinking and resulting car accidents. Many of you were friends with Bobby, who was killed last year in a drunk-driving accident on his way home from a prom after-party. We are going to talk today about prevention."
She continued, "Many of you have been told by your parents and others that drinking should be saved until you are of responsible, legal age. You've also heard from your parents and TV commercials that you should not drive while under the influence. Since we all know you are going to drink anyway and you will need to get home after the prom, let's go over some safe driving practices. When you drink and drive, make sure you and your passengers are wearing seatbelts. Seatbelts have proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury by 43%-65%. There is a slight risk that you could be killed in an accident, but it is nearly eliminated when you buckle up! In the unlikely event of a car accident, there is the possibility you will injure another driver. Before prom this weekend, make sure your insurance covers medical expenses for both you and the driver you may injure in an accident. Enjoy your weekend!"
Replace "drink and drive" with "engage in sexual activity" and "seatbelt" with "condom" and you have "comprehensive" sex education. "Safe sex" is touted as the solution to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and teenage pregnancy. Abstinence education is criticized as naive and unrealistic by groups like Mathematica, Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute. A popular argument claims that Europe has seen an enormous decrease in teenage pregnancy as a result of their "comprehensive sex-ed."
A British Medical Journal article reveals the true impact of "comprehensive sex-ed" on European youth: "It is clear that strategies such as promoting availability and correct use of condoms and increasing use of the emergency pill do not necessarily lead to a reduction in sexually transmitted disease rates, pregnancies, or terminations."1
Author and lecturer Trevor Stammers explains that promotion of "safe-sex" has actually had a negative impact on sexual health: "Teenage sexual health in the United Kingdom is in overall decline, with increasing rates of terminations and sexually transmitted infections in under 18s outweighing modest reductions in conception rates in this age group. Counter-intuitively, rather than improving sexual health, sex behavior interventions can make it worse." He provides examples of abstinence education and parental involvement having the greatest impact on improving teenage sexual health.
The Netherlands has low rates of teen pregnancy resulting from parental involvement, not safe-sex practices: "In the Netherlands, many more mothers and fathers talk with their children about sex than in the UK. The lower rate of single parenthood in the Netherlands is an important factor in the lower rate of teenage pregnancy seen in that country." Uganda has seen a dramatic drop in the spread of AIDS, due largely to promoting abstinence: "A key factor in the Ugandan success in reducing HIV rates so dramatically during the 1990s was a community-wide, mass media communication of messages to achieve the desired outcomes of abstinence and being faithful, in addition to condom use."
Abstinence education not only improves the sexual health of teenagers, it also improves their self-esteem. Stammers points out, "The false assumption that 'young teens will have sex anyway' is an insult to many young people who have the capacity to rise to a far more effective challenge than just 'use a condom every time.'"
Assuming that teenagers will "drink and drive anyway" is insulting to their intelligence. Assuming sex is inevitable is just as insulting to teens and many others who have committed to saving sex for marriage.
1 Stammers, Trevor. "Sexual Health in Adolescents." British Medical Journal. January, 2007.