Whut? Teenagers like s-e-x? ZOMG!

Whut? Teenagers like s-e-x? ZOMG!

Whut? Teenagers like s-e-x? ZOMG!

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Dec. 29 2008 3:00 PM

Whut? Teenagers like s-e-x? ZOMG!

[Update: When I orignially wrote this, I said this was about abstinence-only education, when it's really about virginity pledges. The two are closely related, but I shouldn't have made that mistake. I have corrected it below.]

Sigh. Yet Another Study shows abstinence-only sex education virginity pledges, like abstinence-only education, doesn't work. Teenagers are just as likely to have sex after being told not to, and far worse, when they do have sex they don't use protection. That increases the rate of STDs and pregnancies.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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According to that article,

"Taking a [virginity] pledge doesn't seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior," said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. "But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking."

So let's get this straight. If you teach a kid only that sex is bad and make them promise they shouldn't do it until they are married, they are still just as likely to go ahead and Do It. That is the opposite of what you want, obviously, and you're making it worse because unwanted pregnancies are likely to go up because of this. So what do you do?

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My guess is, stick your fingers in your ears and yell "LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!" There has been some good news lately with states rejecting abstinence-only education funds, but this kind of anti-reality garbage is unlikely to go down without a fight. I suspect its influence is waning; with the far-right losing its grip (except through obstructionism, and expect to see a lot of that coming) maintaining such nonsense will be harder. However, lots of Democrats like abstinence-only puffery as well, so it won't go away any time soon.

The solution is obvious. Teach kids in school all about health and their bodies. Then, if you want them to behave a certain way, talk to them at home. That way, they have actual, y'know, knowledge, and you yourself as their parent can guide them in what you see as a moral direction.

We have reached a watershed here, I think. If you don't like them learning about their bodies in school, that's too frakking bad. Too many studies show that abstinence-only voodoo and its corollaries do not work, and it's time people face up to that.

It's not a matter or morality. It's a matter of fact.