"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)



So the whole abstinence-only-focused sex education thing isn't working out so well here in Texas. We now bear the dubious distinctions of having 1) the most teenagers having babies, and 2) the most teenagers having babies after they've already had a baby.

By contrast, California, which combines abstinence education with information about contraception - and gives teeenagers access to contraception without parental consent - has seen a 47% reduction in its number of teen births.

Look, I do believe that parents should have the right to opt their children out of sex ed classes in public schools. Texas law clearly makes such a provision. But we clearly have a disaster here - 63 of every 1,000 teenage Texas girls had babies in 2004. And the frustrating thing is that this is a totally preventable problem. It's glaringly clear that abstinence-only sex ed isn't working, especially with respect to our state's Hispanic teenage girls, who accounted for 61% of teen births in 2004. Some teenagers are quite clearly going to have sex whether they're taught that it's a good idea or not, and while teen pregnancies make the consequences of such decisions quite clear, we're doing a disservice to these kids by not giving them better information. Until the people who control this state wake up, it's just going to get worse. I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, we're still near the bottom in SAT scores.


Blogger David McCullars said...

"Look, I do believe that parents should have the right to opt their children out of sex ed classes in public schools."

Putting aside the fact that they legally can at the current moment, why? We don't currently allow parents to opt their kids out of algebra or grammar or a foreign language. Last time I checked there isn't a single major religion in the US that bans sex. It's a fundamental part of life without which we become extinct. It's a fundamental part of society and our interpersonal relationships (in particular with spouses). While we are at it, why don't we allow parents to shield their kids from classes on nutrition or physical fitness. Heaven forbid my child learn how to be a functional human being.

(Did it occur to anyone that a sex ed class can be taught without espousing either abstinence or contraception?)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007 1:09:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Because (as far as I know) no one has different values relating to the conjugation of verbs or the relationship between the inverse of the hypoteneuse of something I don't understand. Right? Sex is something that different families treat in different ways, and since it's so closely attached to religious belief in many cases, it makes sense to me that the state shouldn't force parents who want to shelter their children from particular views of sex to have their children participate in these classes.

Of course, it's a slippery slope to science class, I know...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007 10:28:00 AM

Blogger euphrony said...

It's interesting you mention the large percent that Hispanic teens make up in this stat. My wife did long-term (2-3 months in a class)substitute teaching for a while. She was in an 8th grade class, and I remember her telling me that one of her students came up to her, beeming with joy, and told my wife that she was pregnant. She was, at 13 or 14, as happy as could be that she was finally starting her own family.

Sex education - no matter the base - only goes so far when faced with a culture that values child-bearing more highly than anything else. I won't say that the whole of Hispanic culture embraces it like this girl did, to the point of feeling the need to be a mom (not just sexually active, but a mom) at such a young age. But that attitude makes the debate of teaching abstinence vs. contraception kind of irrelevant.

I wonder - California has a high Hispanic population; what is the breakdown between races there?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007 10:51:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Great question, Euphrony, and I'm not sure the article mentioned that. But one reason California has had so much success in lowering their teen birth rate is that they make contraception available to kids. That's controversial, and I don't ever see it happening in Texas, but apparently it works.

I completely agree that there are cultural barriers that are almost impossible to overcome.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007 12:33:00 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home