Or keeping your legs crossed — the abstinence way.
Back in the ’90s, the teen birth rate in Hartford, the capital city of Connecticut, peaked at 28 percent. For every 100 teenage girls, 28 were mothers. That was appalling, but serious-minded adults took matters in hand, and through effective public programs and hands-on parenting, that statistic has been reduced by roughly a third. That’s still too high, but those serious-minded adults aren’t finished yet.
Babies having babies hurts everyone, but counting live births is not an effective means of measuring teenage sexual activity. The Guttmacher Institute and Kaiser Family Foundation say roughly half of American adolescents have had sexual intercourse.
What’s a culture to do? When people talk about abstinence programs (which if you read this, you’ll see are still a healthy part of the new president’s budget), I believe they mean well. Everyone wants an adolescent to wait before having sex, and abstinence works. Not having sex is the most effective form of birth control.
But teaching young people that it’s the only form of birth control doesn’t work, as shown here, here, and here.
People who push abstinence-only programs paint themselves into a difficult corner. If the message of abstinence doesn’t work, the teen will have sex, and if s/he has sex surrounded by the message that s/he is not supposed to have sex, then that teen doesn’t tend to use birth control.
And class? What’s one risk of having unprotected sex? Right, sexually-transmitted disease. And what’s another? That’s right. Babies. So if you’re going to argue that keeping it in your pants (or keeping your legs crossed) is sufficient, you’re not being realistic.
Instead preventing sexual activity among people not yet equipped to deal with it takes a multi-pronged approach. (And why does everything I write a double entendre? I just substituted “deal with it” for “handle it.” Get it? Handle it? Sorry. I’m actually 12.)
Look, I’m a mother. I raised two sons. I like to tell myself that we had free and open discussions about sexuality, but I’m lying. It was awkward. I never knew the right words, and when I’d start on yet another chapter of sex ed at home, one son would roll his eyes and go to that place in his head where a mother’s voice could never penetrate (Penetrate. See? I really am 12.)
I don’t blame him, but when Pres. Obama talked about responsibility in his Tuesday speech, this was part of it. You talk to your kids. And then? You make sure they have options — a lot of them.
Abstinence is a concept that baffles me.
You mean as a state of being, or as a means of birth control?
Ah, could our problem be that we don’t equip them with the necessary knowledge to remain abstinent? If they don’t understand that if they engage in foreplay–they can’t expect to remain abstinent for long. They are not equipped to remain free from the consequences of sexual activity.
And guess what Planned Parenthood teaches as okay for teenagers–“Outercourse”! Outercourse is nothing less than foreplay with instructions not to have intercourse. Real logical, right?
No wonder the pregnancy rate is high even with contraceptives being used. Take use of condoms for instance–average failure rate for teens is 15%–So if 100 girls between intercourse as freshmen in highschool and consistently use condoms 15 will be pregnant at the end of the year–25+ at the end of the sophmore year–35 at the end of the junior year and 45-50 at the end of their senior year.[conservative use of figures and assuming some repeat pregnancies]. Because you see the failure figures are per user year.
I have never in my life heard “outercourse.” I DID hear “petting,” but I didn’t know what that meant. What? You bring your dog on a date? And why would that be wrong? And while I wouldn’t get in a hair-pulling over this, I got a different rate for condom failure — more like 3 percent to 14 percent. Though why I’m arguing that is beyond me.
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