Sunday, April 15, 2007

Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder

It seems that abstinence only education, a favorite of the Bush administration, doesn't work. The New York Times reports

Students who participated in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex as those who did not, according to a study ordered by Congress.

Also, those who attended one of the four abstinence classes reviewed reported having similar numbers of sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes. And they first had sex about the same age as other students — 14.9 years, according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc.
The next question to ask is, are they using protection?

The federal government spends $176 million a year on public school classes promoting abstinence until marriage. And USA Today reported last year that the government's "no sex without marriage" message isn't just for kids anymore. "The government is also targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of it's abstinence-only programs. " Millions of dollars are going into these programs.
"They've stepped over the line of common sense," said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. "To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It's an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health."
Instead of wasting millions of dollars trying to control people's sex lives, why not spend the money on things that actually do make a difference. For example, young girls who participate in school sports are less likely to engage in sexual activity. It helps raise their self esteem and gives them the courage to say no.

And the next thing we need to do is to make it socially unacceptable for anyone to use sexist and racist language to poke fun of young female athletes. Don Imus was a good start.

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