Abstinence Only Sex Education Does Not Work; Christian Right Says, “We Need More!”25 March, 2009
Pete Seeger has little toleration for fools. And, from his writings and his songs, his definition of fools includes those who feel that any problem, any war, any idea, can succeed if we only have enough determination. One of the best was one called “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” an anti-Vietnam War song as appropriate today as it was 45 years ago. The most powerful verse?
Well, I’m not going to point any moral;
I’ll leave that for yourself
Maybe you’re still walking, you’re still talking
You’d like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We’re — waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
The American Family Association (three very frightening words when used together) is, apparently, run by a bunch of big fools. A recent government survey, published by the CDC, notes that the rates of sexually transmitted diseases is on the rise. The big fools at the AFA think that
“It’s just very appalling because the sexually transmitted diseases syphilis and Chlamydia now are continuing to rise,” [Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America] notes. “And Chlamydia is at an all-time high, an historical high, with over a million new cases a year, which is an increase over last year of some seven percent.”
Since many of the new reports involve young people, Crouse says the figures suggest comprehensive sex education — which she believes encourages young people to be intimate — is not working.
“We have said to a whole generation, almost two generations now, of young people, ‘Just be careful and use a condom,’ and that’s the only advice we are giving them,” she adds, “and I think that’s so unfair and it’s so misleading for our young people because we’re downplaying the consequences of casual sex.”
The only way to prevent STDs and pregnancy, says Crouse, is abstinence.
The Great State of Texas (genuflect when you say that, ya’ll) 94% of all Texas school districts teach abstinence-only sex ed, with only 3% teaching abstinence-plus (abstinence plus condoms and other forms of birth control). So here is a state which has heartily embraced the idea of AOSE. How’s that working for Texas?
• Fifty-sex percent of high school students in Texas report having used condoms at last intercourse. Only three states have lower rates of condom use among students.
• Texas’ teen pregnancy rate of 101 pregnancies per 1,000 girls ages 15-19 is significantly higher than the national rate of 84. Only four states have higher teen pregnancy rates than Texas. Since 1990, Texas’ pregnancy rate has dropped by 18 percent, compared to a 24 percent drop nationwide.
• Texas’ teen birth rate of 62 births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19 is the highest in the nation – significantly higher than the national rate of 41. Since 1990, Texas’ birth rate has dropped by 21 percent, compared to a 34 percent drop nationwide.
• Texas’ AIDS case rate of 13 cases per 100,000 people is the tenth highest, worse than 40 states. Among 45 states with HIV reporting, Texas has the third highest number (24,699) of people living with HIV.
• Young people ages 15-24 comprised twenty percent of Texas’ new HIV cases in 2006.
• Texas’ youth, especially young women, are at risk for STIs:
o Youth ages 15-24 experienced 73 percent of the total number of Chlamydia cases in Texas in 2006.
o Youth ages 15-24 experienced 61 percent of the total number of Gonorrhea cases in Texas in 2006.
o For all youth in this age range, young women were most at risk for STIs, experiencing 83 percent of Chlamydia infections and 60 percent of gonorrhea infections.
Go ahead, conservatives and Christians, cherry pick those numbers! I dare you.
Faith-based governing does not work. W had faith that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. W had faith in Brownie. Conservatives have faith that abstinence only sex education works. It works if your goal is to punish people for having sex (teenagers have sex, AOSE just denies them the knowledge of how to fuck with minimal risk of pregnancy and STDs). It works if one’s goal is to merge government with religion. Abstinence does prevent pregnancy and STDs (assuming, of course, one does not saddleback to create the illusion of abstinence). But Abstinence Only Sex Education does not promote abstinence. It promotes unsafe sex. AOSE does not work as a valid public health measure.
Of course, the radical Christian and political right, lead by a bunch of big fools, keep saying to push on. All we need is a little determination and we’ll soon be on dry land. More of a failed policy will create success.
It hasn’t worked in Iraq. It didn’t work in Vietnam. It didn’t work with supply-side economics. And it doesn’t work when it comes to educating our children about their bodies and how to protect themselves.
(Hat Tip to Ed Brayton at Dispatches From the Culture Wars)
Posted in Abstinence, abstinence-only education, Authoritarianism, Church and State, education?, health care, Politics, Predators, religion, Religious Abuse, school, science, sex, sex education, sexually transmitted disease |