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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Failure of Ignorance-Only Sex Ed

condoms, contraception, sex ed
I've always called "abstinence-only" sex ed "ignorance-only." After all, the idea is that if kids know about birth control, they'll inevitably go out and use it. In fact, the reasoning -- such as it is -- is that kids who know about birth control will be more likely to have sex. They think they're safe, so they'll engage in risky behavior. This is the same reason why giving a kid a bicycle helmet is a bad idea -- they'll immediately crash straight into a tree because they think they're safe. Because your kid is mentally helpless and stupid beyond all words.

That's the way it works, right? No matter how you raise your kids, they'll turn out dumber than a sack of hammers and irresponsible to boot. You simply can't tell kids the truth -- or, at least, the facts -- or they'll abuse it. 100% of the time. Never, ever trust your teen's maturity, their intelligence, their common sense. They are, in their raging hormonal hearts, the purest evil known to humanity.

Of course, this line of thinking often leads to disastrous consequences. Turns out that kids can figure out how to do this sex stuff without anyone telling them how. You'd think it was some sort of instinct or something, not a closely guarded secret revealed only to mature adults.

And if you try to keep it secret, disaster follows.



A new study from the Guttmacher Institute unsurprisingly finds that greater knowledge about contraceptive services is directly correlated to a decrease in young adults’ risky sexual behavior. However, after quizzing a nationally representative sample of 1,800 sexually active Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 on their basic knowledge of contraception methods, Guttmacher reports that “more than half of young men and a quarter of young women received low scores on contraceptive knowledge, and six in 10 underestimated the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.” The study ultimately concluded:

Programs to increase young adults’ knowledge about contraceptive methods and use are urgently needed. Given the demonstrated link between method knowledge and contraceptive behaviors, such programs may be useful in addressing risky behavior in this population.

Imagine that; if you keep your kids ignorant, they'll do stupid things. What a shock. I haven't been this stunned since I was informed the sun rose this morning. But this was the part that really got me:

The Guttmacher study highlights this very educational gap. Although a majority of respondents (69 percent of the women and almost half of the men) agreed that they were “committed to avoiding pregnancy,” they seem to doubt that birth control is an effective means to achieve this goal. 40 percent of respondents said that birth control doesn’t matter because “when it is your time to get pregnant, it will happen.”

"When it is your time to get pregnant, it will happen," because... because shut up, that's why. Because magic.

Yes, abstinence is the surest way to avoid pregnancy -- at least, this side of homosexual sex. But it's also the most likely to be abandoned. We're talking about a biological imperative here. Abstinence needs to be part of a set of comprehensive contraceptive strategies, not a strategy all its own. Why? Because evidence, that's why. Because science.

A previous Guttmacher study found that teen pregnancy rates were at a 30-year low. And they gave the credit for those numbers to increased access to contraceptives. We're in danger of backsliding here, because a bunch of bass-ackward, sex-phobic morons want to put ideology above evidence. The states most committed to ignorance-only are the ones with the worst outcomes. These are all facts.

I trust facts more than I trust anyone's ideology.


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