Teen Pregnancy On The Rise – Abstinence Only Programs Failing Our Children — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted at BlogHer)
I was shocked to read a headline this week, that the rate of teen births is on the rise.
The rate had been steadily declining since 1991, after an intense educational campaign, that included contraception, condom use, and the risk of Aids and sexually transmitted disease. But now, for the first time in 14 years, statistics show a 3% increase in teens having babies.
How could that be? Could it be that sex education programs aren’t working very well? Actually, the sex-ed programs were working just fine, until the Bush administration began diverting funds from them to abstinence only programs.
It doesn’t take a sexologist to explain why abstinence only isn’t an effective means of sex education. But just in case, here is Logan Levkoff of Third Base Ain’t What It Used To Be…
Hmmm…looks like abstinence only programs don’t work. Oh, have I said that before? Sounds familiar, but now there is a new study that is saying the same thing. Last week, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy released a study confirming that ab-only programs don’t delay sex. Even more exciting, the review of teenage sexual behavior also concluded that comprehensive sexuality education does delay the initiation of sex, reduces a teen’s number of sex partners, and increases condom and contraceptive usage. Hurray!
Needless to say, this is terrific news. So I ask you all this: Why have we spent over $1.5 billion in the last ten years on abstinence only? And why is Congress even considering a bill to spend another $141 million on it?
It seems to me that with teen pregnancy on the rise, this would prove that abstinence-only programs are not working. However, instead of recognizing the failure of these programs, the Bush administration is increasing funding.
Ideology, not science, has been driving America’s response to the twin epidemics of teen pregnancy and STD/HIV infections. Funding for abstinence-only censorship programs is dramatically increasing. All told, abstinence-only programs have received over half a billion dollars in federal funds since 1997, and the Bush administration requested yet another sharp increase to $204 million for fiscal year 2007. By 2009, President Bush proposes that funding for abstinence-only programs reach $270 million.
This huge investment of taxpayer funds in abstinence-only programs conflicts with scientific and medical research: abstinence-only programs are not proven effective and may in fact result in riskier behavior by teenagers. Responsible sex education programs, on the other hand, have demonstrated positive results such as delayed initiation of sex, reduced frequency of sex, and increased contraceptive use. — read full article here
Parents really shouldn’t be relying totally on schools to teach their children about sex anyway. It’s not any easy subject to talk about with our children, but it is very important that we do (especially given this latest information on teen pregnancy). Here is a site that seems to include all aspects of sex education…Teensource, and here is one on talking to you kids about sex.
This is from a post by Susan (a parent coach)…
Don’t wait too long to have these conversations. Kids are experimenting with sex and drugs earlier and earlier. The younger you start the easier it will be to continue bringing it up. A great conversation starter might be after you and your child have seen a movie with sex or drugs being part of the content. “What did you think about that movie? What did you think about the choices that Josie made? What would you have done? Do you have any questions about anything that you saw?”
If your child ignores you or doesn’t want to talk about it don’t give up. Keep looking for opportunities to bring up those uncomfortable issues. Soon you will notice that it isn’t so awkward after all!
From Moms Speak Up…
In May, according to NPR, “Democratic Rep. John Dingell, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, made it clear that Democrats do not intend to re-fund a $50 million grant program for abstinence-only sex education. Dingell says he considers the funded programs ‘a colossal failure.’”
“Democrats would still include money for abstinence teachings in schools, but would combine it with comprehensive sex-ed program* that would teach about birth control and other safe sex methods.” (Click here to read the full USA Today article.)
The abstinence-only grant was set to expire on June 30, 2007.
However, despite Democrat statements and the factual studies that revealed the fallibility and lack of efficacy of abstinence-only education, in June, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations voted to increase federal funding for community based abstinence-only education programs (CBAE) in this country by $27.8 million.
In November, the increase amount was officially set at $28 million for a grand total of $141 million. President Bush would like that amount increased to $204 million for 2008.
Could this be what Bush has in mind?
An easy solution to the problem of teen pregnancy.
If we just had a couple more million to add some critical “family values” classes along with the “abstinence only” program, it wouldn’t matter that the teen birth rate is increasing. It would go something like this…High school counselors could stop pushing college on everyone (it’s getting awfully expensive anyway), and instead they could encourage parenting classes. Picture this…The “advanced placement” pregnant teens could take classes in wedding planning. This could even help solve the divorce problem in our country…With no education and just their husband to count on, these women would be
virtually trapped in their marriages, with no possibility of getting a divorce or making it on their own.
Seriously, we are really taking major steps backward these days…even our life expectancy is going down.
What do you think about these new statistics? How do you feel about our government spending millions of tax dollars for abstinence only programs? Do you think the schools should be teaching sex educations? Do you talk openly with your kids about sex?
An open question to the candidates: How will you address the problem of teen pregnancy if you are elected president?
Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
also at CatherineBlogs.com and The Political Voices of Women