April 2, 2004
Abstinence is an idea as old as the hills. We know abstinence works. It prevents unwanted pregnancies. We know you won’t come down with any of the 25 common STDs if you abstain from sex. So what’s wrong with abstinence?
Everything? That’s right. Some people are working to convince parents that abstinence education is unpopular, unrealistic, and unsafe.
Unsafe? That’s right. Some people claim that abstinence education is a two-minute lecture delivered by an uptight prude: Don’t do it. Just don’t do it. Say NO. And don’t ever, ever do it.
What we need, critics of abstinence cry out, is truth. We need medically accurate information. We need to talk about sex. Our kids need to know how to stay safe. They need more information than just saying No. They need the truth.
Truth? Consider that the abstinence teacher often spends as many as five to ten hours in one classroom. What are they talking about? Well, actually, they have quite a lot to talk about, and it’s just the kind of no-nonsense medically accurate information that could save a teen from the biggest mistake of her life.
How about these facts:
Medically accurate information proves the ineffectiveness of condoms in preventing serious STDs leading to infertility, lifelong genital herpes, and cervical cancer. Cervical cancer kills more women each year than AIDS. With teens, condoms approach a twenty percent failure rate in preventing pregnancy.
Meanwhile, critics of abstinence want to take over with their own brand of risky sex education. Their brand of truth ignores medical realities, suggesting that teens can flirt with sex and not get burned. What does risky sex look like? Try these ideas out:
Risky sex educators’ version of sex education counsels teens to try “outercourse.” This highly risky behavior, using their own definition, can include naked body-to-body intimacy just short of intercourse.
Risky sex educators put their version of “abstinence” into a virtual smorgasbord of sexual behaviors that teens can engage in…when they are ready. In their curriculum, abstinence is little more than an “option” that teens may abandon…when they are mature.
Research proves parents are the most effective educators of sexual values for their children. In spite of this, risky sex educators use “confidentiality” as a means of promoting secrecy that distances teens from their parents.
Best of all, risky sex educators are engaged in an all out attack on the money that supports abstinence education. They print articles and lobby legislators and governors. “Stop abstinence education,” is their battle cry.
So what kind of money are we talking about? While risky sex educators are concerned that $120 million is being spent on abstinence programs, it is reported that in FY 2002, the federal government spent half a billion dollars on teen sex-ed that ignores the medical realities of condom failures. We are paying risky sex educators to teach our children such “safe sex” concepts as outercourse.
What do parents get for their money? The “statistical results” of thirty years of the condom, outercourse, and “mature sex” message is evident. Today, one in five children over the age of 12 tests positive for herpes type 2.
What has happened to choice? Abstinence is an important option and choice parents deserve. It reinforces parental values by giving students truly medically accurate information to help them understand the importance of remaining sexually abstinent until marriage.
Abstinence education embraces the same no-nonsense, truth-telling approach we use in teaching young people about drugs, tobacco and drunk driving
It is a grassroots effort that has taken hold over the past ten years, fully supported by medical experts who have witnessed the explosion of the STD epidemic in their medical practices. During this same period of time, as abstinence education gains ground, the CDC in an extensive report just released says teen pregnancy, birth and abortion rates dropped from 1990 to 1999.
Abstinence educators know what our kids need. They talk medically accurate information. They give our children the information and reasons for saying No to sex. They know what risk is about, and they are not willing to put one cent into pretending that “outercourse” is a good idea. And that’s the truth.