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

6.04.2008

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So the whole abstinence-based sex ed thing isn't working so well...

4 Comments:

Blogger euphrony said...

Serious question (and I don't think this is one I've heard anyone address): Is it possible that any leveling off or even slight upswing in teen sex trends is completely unrelated to any form of sex ed, abstinence-based or condom-based? The reason I ask is because teens have a penchant for being, well, stupid at times.

Take, for example, the CNN article I read yesterday about kids taking naked pics of themselves with their cell phones and sending them to boyfriends/girlfriends. You or I would reasonably expect that once the relationship ended (or even before) those naked pics would get passed around. The teens are seemingly clueless as to that potential (at least, they are when the moment to take the pic occurs) and clueless that by passing the photos they can be charged with child pornography, exploitation of a minor, etc. When I was a teen we did not do this, but probably only because of opportunity and technology rather than a different moral climate or level of intelligence. The things kids did when I was young are equally dumb, just with less ability to be aired on the public stage.

If teens have a demonstrable tendency to act in a manner that is not necessarily in their best interest, then I think it reasonable to assume that this would translate into a theoretical limit in the reduction of any adverse activity. What do you think? I'm no social scientist (in fact, no one has ever really accused me of being very social), but this seems to be a logical conclusion. As I said, I've not heard anyone anywhere address these topics from this angle. Perhaps it sounds a bit defeatist, but I wouldn't think this type of explanation should be used as excuse to not try for further reductions.

Thursday, June 05, 2008 8:48:00 AM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Right, I see your point. One of the best arguments for encouraging teenagers to wait is that their judgment is not fully developed - that doesn't happen until about age 25. And it makes sense that there's going to be a levelling-off point that happens at some point, just because teenagers act stupidly sometimes.

That said, when you compare similar states that have different forms of sex ed, the rates of teen pregnancy and std infection are significantly lower. One of the current examples is Texas vs. California, both large states with higher Hispanic populations (which tend to have a higher teen pregnancy rate than other demographic groups). In Texas, as you probably know, our sex ed is "abstinence-focused." We have very high teen pregnancy and std infection rates, and we have the highest number of teen moms who have a second child of anyone in the country. By contrast, California has comprehensive sex ed and keeps condoms in readily available places. And their rates are lower.

Friday, June 06, 2008 2:18:00 PM

 
Blogger euphrony said...

Point taken.

Can any program, of any type, work if the people being "educated" by it are not believers in the basic reasons behind the program? Reasons for abstinence are harder for teens to embrace than are reason for condom use, thus one possible reason for its better success rates. Same thing goes for music piracy or cheating - if the core of the person's beliefs are not changed, then their actions are much less likely to be changed.

Friday, June 06, 2008 3:49:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Exactly. And I think there's another factor at work here, which is the involvement of parents and other adult support structures.

Another argument for the comprehensive approach is that even the kids who apparently do believe in the principles, at least to some extent - the ones who take virginity pledges - only delay sexual activity by a few months on average, and are much less likely to be safe about it when they do engage in sex.

Saturday, June 07, 2008 10:56:00 AM

 

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