Alright, let's start with showing you a few snippets from the article found here: http://www.al.com/news/press-register/index.ssf?/base/news/1189934476174290.xml&coll=3
"Last year in Mobile County, 4,629 new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported -- enough instances of the sexually transmitted diseases to account for one out of every 87 people, according to a Press-Register review of state and federal statistics.
That was about three times the rate in New York City and more than twice as high as Washington, D.C."
"A lack of education weighs heavily on a county's rate, health officials said.
In Alabama public schools, students are taught abstinence-based sex education as part of a half credit of health education in high school. Students learn that "abstinence is the only protection against pregnancy, HIV/AIDs and STDs," said state Department of Education spokeswoman Edith Parten."
OK...where to begin? Well, this article is simply more proof of something I already know. Abstinence-only education does not work. Before I go further please don't say that teaching kids about safe sex will simply mean all the high school kids will go around having sex.
I went to a high school that taught me about safe sex. Let it be known that I had no success in getting laid. It wasn't for lack of trying, either. Girls simply weren't interested in what I had to offer. So saying that teaching safe sex simply means all the teens of the world will be knocking boots only makes geeky losers like I was cry.
That said, people still say that safe sex simply encourages kids to have sex. But I had an archery class and at its conclusion its not like I started roaming the halls playing William Tell. It's not like archery class created an epidemic of arrow related injuries throughout the school. So why would teaching kids about sex create an epidemic of teens getting into each others' cheddar business?
Let's put it another way. If you take Home Ec you're not expected to immediately take over the household and start doing all the cooking and cleaning. It's simply a class that teaches you skills that may aid in the future. Can't sex education classes that teach safe sex be viewed in the same light?
If you teach kids that abstinence is the only way to keep you safe from STDs, what you're really teaching them is that they only have two options, unsafe sex or no sex. So if a teen chooses to have sex they've already decided, from what they've been taught, that sex is just as dangerous with a condom than without. So why should they even bother with the condom? Abstinence-only education doesn't reduce the number of kids having sex, it simply reduces the number of kids having SAFE sex.
But the truth of the matter is that the choice to have sex is a deeply personal one. And I would urge younglings out there to hold off on sex at least until college. (Oh, and watch out for Anakin Skywalker, he's a bastard.) But kids are going to make their own decisions in life whether you, I, or the religious right like it or not. I'm not saying that a person can't abstain till marriage, I'm just saying that a person has probably made up their own decisions about abstinence by the time they reach high school. I know I did. It didn't matter if the school taught abstinence or encouraged me to have sex, I knew how I felt about sex and that was that.
That's my point. Teaching safe sex or teaching abstinence will, in most cases, have no effect on whether a high schooler has sex or not. They've already decided whether they're going to abstain. The only thing the school can do is give a child knowledge about sex and what sex means and how to keep yourself safe if having sex. If, in addition to teaching ways to keep sex safe, the school also wants to note that the only "fool proof" way of avoiding STDs is to simply abstain from sex then I would endorse that message.
In the end you'll never hear me saying that high schoolers having sex is a good thing. Teen pregnancies can be quite a burden and can even ruin lives. STDs are also a nasty business. I think sex should wait until a person is physically, emotionally, and intellectually mature enough to handle having sex in a safe and respectful manner. But knowledge is power and adolescents should have the knowledge of how to have sex safely.
Remember when Galileo began preaching that the Earth revolved around the Sun? The Catholic Church opposed him at every turn for fear that if people believed that then they would stop believing in God. Well, these days almost everyone knows the Earth revolves around the Sun and many of them still believe in God. So if you think teaching kids how to have sex safely is going have a massive impact on their ideals about sex before marriage then you're fooling yourself. I will never say that teenagers have it all figured out. But I'll be damned if they don't THINK they have it all figured out.
So, to me, the formula is simple. Have the schools impartially teach kids about sex, its dangers, ways to keep it safe, and the benefits to abstinence. At that point, hopefully involved parents will give their input to the child. After that, we have to let the kids decide.
PS Hopefully my next blog will be more humorous than this one. But then again, when have they ever been?