Teens need more information

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

What is with religious fundamentalists (and President Bush, for that matter) who think that abstinence-only education campaigns will truly keep teenagers from having premarital sex? It’s ridiculous!

I mean, hey, I went to Catholic school, so I understand that scare and guilt tactics can be effective, but in the end, it boils down to hormones, curiosity and peer pressure. And the fact that teenagers tend to do what they want anyway, because they think they are invincible.

They’re stupid, for Pete’s sake. Some of them don’t even think oral sex is sex. And do you know what that means? If they don’t understand that it is a form of sex, then they certainly aren’t aware that diseases can be spread that way, too.


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The folks at Planned Parenthood go so far as to say that abstinence-only programs endanger students’ sexual health. I agree.

I’m afraid that abstinence-only policies might make sex fuzzy for teens n all they really get is that sex is some big thing that adults don’t want them to do until they are married.

But what about when they are alone, fooling around and just following their natural urges?

Maybe, in a perfect world, everyone would wait until they found that perfect someone to marry so that sex would be more than just an animalistic act, but a true expression of love. I agree that it is something that should be experienced by two people who care deeply for one another. But we’ve got to be realistic.

I think that all schools should teach exhaustive sex education courses, ones that discuss the mechanics of sex so kids are clear on what it truly is. They should be told of all the available methods of birth control and how to go about getting them, as well as critical safe-sex practices. Give them the information they need so if they are going to have sex (and many will, regardless of how hard parents, teachers and clergy try to convince them otherwise) they will be prepared.

Then, if you want to really scare them out of doing it, get graphic with all the risks associated with sex. I’m talking color photographs of sexually transmitted diseases (you know the ones) and a live video of a woman giving birth.

I had to watch a tape like that for a high school biology class, and I’m still scarred from it!

Seriously, though, teenagers tend to have a limited vision. They don’t think about tomorrow or the consequences of their actions. The gravity of sex needs to be shoved in their faces so they can’t keep telling themselves that “It won’t happen to me.”

Let’s consider that the abstinence-only has been promoted since the ‘90s, but the United States has the “highest rate of teen pregnancy in the world, and American adolescents are contracting HIV faster than almost any other demographic group,” according to the Planned Parenthood Web site, which cited other studies and resources.

The site goes on to say, point-blank, that abstinence-only sex education does not work, citing a number of studies that found little evidence that teens who participate in those programs abstain from intercourse longer than others. “It is known, however that when they do become sexually active, teens who received abstinence-only education often fail to use condoms or other contraceptives. In fact, 88 percent of students who pledged virginity in middle school and high school still engage in premarital sex. The students who break this pledge are less likely to use contraception at first intercourse, and they have similar rates of sexually transmitted infections as non-pledgers.”

Think about that for a minute.

If you doubt the information, visit www.plannedparenthood.org and go check out the cited references yourself. Think, too, about agendas. Planned Parenthood is just out to make sure young people are safe and healthy. The religious fundamentalists behind abstinence-only policies are out to push their beliefs on all of society.

I will concede that I think the two policies can co-exist. Educate teenagers so they can be smart and safe about sex; but it can be just as important to let them know that sex is more than just a physical act that comes with risks and repercussions.

It can be, given the right preparation, a beautiful, emotional and spiritual experience.