AlterNet
AlterNet: EnviroHealth: Condom Wars

Lethal new regulations from President Bush's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, quietly issued with no fanfare last week, complete the right-wing Republicans' goal of gutting HIV-prevention education in the United States. In place of effective, disease-preventing safe-sex education, little will soon remain except failed programs that denounce condom use, while teaching abstinence as the only way to prevent the spread of AIDS. And those abstinence-only programs, researchers say, actually increase the risk of contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Reminds me of this billboard.

via Bopuc

15 Comments

*sigh*

Such a great blog, such a skewed post!

I wish you could have been with me at work last night. My job gives me lots of contact with teenagers. I overheard one girl--an "experienced" teenager--begging another girl to remain a virgin. "It's not worth it!" she said. "Wait until you are married to have sex."

Fortunately for her friend, we have "researchers" to tell us that she is less likely to get pregnant or an std using condoms than she is if she saves sex for marriage.

Andrew, the point is education, not extreme measures after the fact (after the fact being that you guys seem to have screwed up your culture SO badly that teenagers ARE having sex - taking drugs, buying guns, etc - at increasingly younger and younger ages).

Reverting to ancient religious precepts, ones that have failed time and time again, is not a solution.

Second, do not point the finger calling someone else's point of view skewed when yours just *may* be interpreted as such as well.

The story completely ignores what happens to teen pregnancy rates when abstinence is taught instead of protection. These changes are aimed at bringing funding policy into line with more than one issue.

Setting that aside...

One anecdotal study is cited for the claim that teaching abstinence raises STD rates. My high school was a quarter the size of their study alone. One girl was pregnant in the senior class in my first year. By my fourth year, there were nearly a dozen girls pregnant. There weren't any changes in the school's sex ed during that time. More factors come into play in teen culture than just what's taught in sex ed.

The argument by those in favor of sex education includes the idea that those who are going to have sex are going to do so regardless of what grownups say, so it is best to give them the education and tools and encouragement to be as safe as possible while doing so. This fits in with one of the CDC's stated goals: "CDC Provides Credible Information to Enhance Health Decisions." Choosing to hide credible and valuable information which can be used to enhance health decisions, i.e. the benefits of a condom, among other things, seems to be somewhat contrary to that goal, if one believes that condom use prevents the spread of disease. The evidence is clear that that is the case. The question, then, is whether sex education itself encourages sexual activity, and for that, the studies simply are not there. That would imply that you want to conduct more studies, not that you want to just randomly change things to fit political whims and see what happens as a result.

The problem is not sex education at all. The problem is that the adults in most kids' lives act like morons, and do not command any degree of respect.

In cultures where adults somehow convey that they have a sense of wisdom, knowledge, or even a bit of experience to kids, the kids respect them (in general). In the U.S., kids do not respect adults; in fact, they disdain them. Adults seem to have no principles or wisdom to younger people here.

This leads to situations where parents try to scare their kids into avoiding sex rather than convincing them. IMHO, you have to respect kids as individuals who make their own decisions, and give them the reasons to make the ones you think are right. If they think you're full of shit, well, what do you think is going to happen? If you treat them like propaganda targets, they certainly see right through that...

I think the media does have a lot to do with it, but so do clueless and absent-minded parents. Teaching things in school will have a minimal effect, because nobody respects teachers either...

There seems to be an assumption among many that youth should avoid sexual activity until marriage - or in the case of gay youth - avoid it forever. Interesting how many insist that individuals be trusted to handle their firearms responsibly (advocating firearms education etc.) but cannot bring themselves to allow the same level of trust when it comes to sexual activity...indicating a deeply held fear of sexual activity ... "this is my rifle, this is my gun"!

I guess they'll jsut have to fuck themselves. Maybe that's what Cheney was advocating.

I think that we should let evolution take its course. Encourage promiscuity to a maximum. You pass all the diseases around. Infect everybody. Then, nature will select those who are naturally resistant to STDs, assuming that these STDs interfere with reproductive success. If a certain STD does NOT interfere with reproductive success, then who cares anyway, right? That is, if it doesn't kill you or sterilze you, so what? So you run this grand experiment for 50 years or so and now you've got an STD-resistant population, making the entire STD issue moot. As for pregnancy...well, people have been having babies for millions of years, and we're still here. Granted, children require a great deal of effort and attention, and you may not get to be an engineer as soon as you'd hoped, if ever, but having a child is not the end of the world. It can be one of the most rewarding experiences you'll ever have.

Being 50 years old and having worked with a variety of people I have concluded that people who overly delayed sex were kind of rattled and emotionally messed up. It was a pretty clear marker. People who were virgins at 25 were often, but not alwsys pretty emotionally messed up. Some so badly that they needed help before being able to work effectively.

Now of course this is the question I could never ask in an interview. Amazingly if the person got into a pleasant relationship with someone else this often fixed the problem with no psychologists or antidepressants needed.

Now I admit this is one person's observations. It might be that people rushed into things were just as bad but I didn't see much of that. I just saw the lonely unloved engineers, male and female. Have Fun, Sends Steve

Trevor is correct here. Let's look at facts. Black kids have more kids out of wedlock than any other race. Asian kids are on the lower end of the ladder. I know a Korean girl here in the US, who's parents immigrated (legally, I might add) to this country. She has immense respect for her parents, and although she is 25 years old, and goes to school out of town, her parents require her to come hom from school each weekend. So guess what? She does. Can you imagine the fallout from a white kid (like me) being told at 25 that he or she had to come home every weekend? Holy cow! So how does race figure in to this? Look at divorce rates. Look at rates of fatherlessness. Statistically, those who have good relations with their parents are much less likely to engage in sex during adolesence. And by the way, what's wrong with teaching abstinence? Doe the delay of gratification bother some of you? Do you really want your 15 year old daughter blowing some guy in the back of a Jeep on a Friday night? Come one now. If you have kids, you have to be willing to, and have the balls to, lay down the law. Period. If you don't, you're nto being a parent. You don't get to be be best friends and parents at the same time. All you can do is foster respect by making good choices with your child and hoping that they do the same.

Jimmy,

You raise some good points, but I think there's a high neuroticism to your tone that betrays a kind of paranoia and inner anguish. Why do you have to inflict that on us? Why not just discuss issues that are important to you in a respectful and intellectually serious tone?

Do you really care about the exchange of ideas, or do you just want to rant?

I am proud to say that I am a 22 year old virgin saving myself for marriage. I credit my parents for scaring me about having sex, as well as my church for putting pressure on me. More importantly, though, I thank myself for becoming more educated about sex, which is exactly WHY I choose to wait. Every day in the U.S. alone, 33,000 people catch an STD. I've done my research, I've weighed the good and the bad, and I think that we need to EDUCATE our youth (thanks to Bill Clinton, many think that oral sex is NOT sex and treat it like shaking hands...too bad he forgot to mention that you can STILL catch STD's that way). If the youth of America knew more facts and had more parenting in their lives, we would not need to worry about this. But unfortunately, the entertainment industry has completely taken the sacredness and beauty out of sex, and everyone else has decided to just tag along. Glad I'm not infected or pregnant!

Leena, being proud doesn't mean you are right. (And isn't pride a cardinal sin?)

Poor brainwashed kids. If it ain't one way, it's the other...

Boris, I never said I was right. I am saying that abstinence doesn't cause people to become "emotionally messed up" (as stated in a comment above) and isn't such a bad thing.

I read a rather interesting report about abstinence-based sex education programs a few months back that really shocked me.

They advocate not having sex until marriage as the main idea... Not much wrong with that really. The only 100% effective form of STD prevention is abstinence after all. Any sex education program should mention that - it's not necessary to impose a moral imperative because it's the simple truth.
But (and this is a big but) the programs frequently LIE to kids about things like the effectiveness of condoms. They tell kids that a condom won't stop the spread of aids.
I'm waiting for the day when a young person goes through an abstinence-based program, saves herself for marriage and catches HIV from his/her partner because they weren't using condoms since the person had been told they didn't prevent the spread of HIV.
When that day comes, I hope the poor thing sues the programs for everything they've got. Maybe the litigation-happy society we live in will be the best cure.
Lie to people who believe the lies and get stuffed up because of it will sue the programs and make it economically impossible to continue pushing a program that is deceptive and ineffective.

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