A new sexual education program in U.S. is a must

By Web Master

STAFF EDITORIAL

Think back to your days as an impressionable middle, or high school teenager. We can all relate, on some level or another, to the angst and frustration of that age, as our bodies were progressively developing into adulthood.

We experience new feelings, think new thoughts and suddenly notice the cute person sitting next to us in math class.

It is the experience of being human.

Unfortunately, a recent startling statistic has made this common experience much more dangerous. According to a recent study by the Center for Disease Control, 25 percent of teenage females have a sexually transmitted disease.

And according to TeenPregnancy.com, “Despite impressive declines over the past decade, the United States still has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and births in the industrialized world,” with over 750,000 teen pregnancies annually.

Such statistics give the transition years a different tone.

For this, the U.S. government needs to take responsibility. It’s clear the abstinence program endorsed by the government is not working. In fact, it is failing miserably.

The federal government provides millions of dollars to states who for supporting abstinence-only programs. These programs teach that abstinence — abstaining from sexual activities until engaged in a long-term, monogamous relationship — is the solution.

However, this concept ignores the large number of kids that will inevitably engage in sex, and excludes information about contraceptives (birth control) or condoms.

Numerous studies have shown that abstinence-only programs are ineffective in preventing kids from having sex, reducing sexually transmitted diseases from spreading and decreasing unwanted teen pregnancies.

Yet the government continues to increase the funding. From 1996 to 2007, $1.4 billion federal and state dollars have been spent on abstinence-only programs.

With the staggering number of teenagers affected negatively from sexual intercourse, perhaps the education system should honestly look at its effectiveness.

Perhaps the current abstinence philosophy is too archaic. Kids are too independent and the society too open. Whatever one’s perspective is, it is clear that the current program is failing.

An ideology that obtains negative results of this nature needs to be abandoned for a practical approach that accrues better outcomes.

Thankfully, the tide seems to be turning, and more and more states are rejecting abstinence-only programs. When federal funding was first offered in 1996, California was the only state to decline, because it tried its own abstinence-only program in the early 1990s and found it ineffective. Taking California’s lead, at least 16 states have declined federal funding as of early 2008.

A bill in Congress — the Responsible Education About Life Act seeks to give funding for “abstinence-plus” sexual education programs.

Abstinence-plus sexual education is a comprehensive sexual education program that promotes abstinence as the best choice for teens, but also provides information about contraceptives and condoms.

The reality is teenagers are going to want to have sex and many will have sex, regardless of the improper and unacceptable nature of the act in many societies.

Abstinence education does not appear to be productively influencing the statistics.

An educational structure that addresses these issues, will hopefully succeed in altering students behaviors enough to lower the statistic. Naturally, the point is not to teach a sort of “go out and get laid” mentality, but should be quieter and more accepting.

Sexual intercourse is an option, and should not be valued less than any other option. Instead, safe and intelligent decision-making techniques should be the primary lesson plan.

The implicit negative baggage must be discarded. We need to be blunt: Call the class Prophylactics 101.