Posted Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011, at 10:42 AM
Researchers studying a group of young people that had tested positive for STDs reported this week that 10 percent of their subjects claimed to be abstinent in the past year , with 6 percent of them claiming to be virgins. So much for abstinence-only claims that choosing abstinence is 100 percent effective in STD prevention. Not for these poor kids, it's not.
But I want to offer a word of advice to teenagers, one that will probably cause a storm of frenetic pearl-clutching amongst professional pearl-clutchers: Kids, just admit it if you're having sex. Maybe not to your parents or school teachers, but to yourself, at least. I promise that your future self will not only not be ashamed not to be a virgin, but the opposite. It will sneak up on you suddenly, but one day a switch is flipped and being a virgin somehow turns overnight from something you're proud of to something that makes you feel a little childish and developmentally lagging. Depending on your community, this is either your senior year of high school or your first year out of it. Not that anyone should start having sex just to keep up with the cool kids, but if you're already having sex, only good will come out of admitting it. Not only will you not have to experience that worry and self-doubt that those on the right hand side of the losing-your-virginity bell curve experience (such as asking yourself, "Will it ever happen?!"), but people who admit out loud that they're sexually active are more likely to use protection and see a doctor about their sexual health concerns. Win-win, plus you might get the side bonus of your friends treating you like you're the worldly one of the group who can be approached with questions and secrets. Who doesn't want to be that person when they're a teenager?
Man, when I was a teenager, the first thing you wanted to do after losing your virginity was go tell all your friends. What's wrong with kids these days? That's what I don't get about that purity-ring thing and its popularity. When they tried to propagandize for abstinence at my high school, we took it with the same humor that we brought to '50s-era anti-marijuana videos that argued that you'd be prostituting yourself on the streets within a week of taking your first toke. Our problem wasn't kids pretending they were virgins when they weren't, but kids fronting like they had more sexual experience than they did.