Alchemical Thoughts

Some links on the failures of sex education in the U.S.

Posted on: July 22, 2009

These are some items I have come across on the topic of sex education in the U.S., specifically the failure of it. I have a friend who works as a wellness counselor, and these are things I would share with her. I figure they are things a lot more people should read as well.

  • The Guttmacher Institute has a report which finds that "the progress made in the 1990s and early 2000s in improving teen contraceptive use and reducing teen pregnancy and childbearing stalled, and may even have reversed among certain groups of teens" The report is entitled “Changing Behavior Risk for Pregnancy Among High School Students in the United States, 1991–2007,” Previous studies, which are linked in the press release, have found that contraceptive use has been found to be a key factor in reducing teen pregnancies in the 1990s. What changed? The new federal policies favoring abstinence only education under G.W. Bush. A hat tip to Docuticker
  • Do you need to know what your teen needs to know about sex? Here are "6 Things Your Teen Needs to Know about Sex" via This is the kind of thing we should be printing out or forwarding the link to every parent and teen in the nation. Dispel the myths and get the facts. 
  • The Guardian has an excellent summary of how the Bush Administration's policy of abstinence-only failed miserably and lead to a new rise in teen pregnancies and STDs for young people. The article features some very good links to studies and sources of information as well. It is sad that it takes a British news source to point out what people in the U.S. should be discussing. Then again, I often find as a reader and librarian that the best coverage of issues in the U.S. comes from outside the United States. And this kind of ignorant, myopic, religiously influenced policies do continue after G.W. is gone. For instance, Planned Parenthood getting its funding cut so some religious fundie influenced abstinence-only peddler can get more funding. That's the way to go: keep teens ignorant, and while at it, deprive women of basic health services (yes, Planned Parenthood does a lot more than just sex education and reproductive services. For many women, PP is their health provider, especially for poor and disadvantaged women).
  • Here is another study, this one from the Journal of Adolescent Health, looking at "Trends in Sexual Experience, Contraceptive Use, and Teenage Childbearing, 1992-2002." The findings are not as black and white: there has been some reduction in teen pregnancies, but also increases in contraceptive use and decreases in early sexual experience. "However, researchers, advocates, and policy makers disagree about whether the decline in teen birth rates is because of increases in abstinence or to increases in contraceptive use or more effective method use among sexually active teens." A hat tip to Docuticker.
  • Marie Cocco, on AlterNet, describes "Unprotected Sex: Abstinence Education's Main Accomplishment." The article does look at the Guttmacher Institute report I link above. From the article, I think this says quite a bit and makes for quite the indictment: "But now we have sad and clear evidence that political foolishness among adults is leading to foolish and harmful behavior among kids. Who could reasonably want more teen pregnancies, more abortions among teenagers, more unmarried mothers, more babies born with greater health risks and with the sorely limited economic prospects that burden the children of young, single mothers? No one would dare promote such a policy. Yet these are the results of our recent national sex-education policy, which was based on religious faith, not science, and put political gamesmanship ahead of public health."
  • Of course, you can find a fine example of how to keep your kids ignorant in my own current backyard of Texas, where it turns out Haitians know more about STD transmission and how to prevent it than Texans. Haitians for cripes sake. From the TFN Insider.
  • I am tossing this one as a bonus. This is a site I just discovered called Whyzz. If your kid is asking tough questions, type it in here, and get a helpful answer. I typed in "where do babies come from?" to try it out. It gave me a couple of choices, including a pretty nice answer on how to give an answer to a young kid. This is more for dealing with children, but keep in mind, you have to start educating early. The response I got was well-written and thoughtful. The site gets answers from users as well as experts, and often, answers have sources from some very reputable sources. For instance, the answer I read drew from information by SIECUS
  • And apparently teens are not the only ones needing some education. "Ten percent of Americans with AIDS are over 50" according to this article. Some seniors took matters into their own hands and made a video to educate their peers. Get the story with links and the video here. Via YesButNoButYes. Figure after all this, I had to toss in a bit of humor, but the issue of seniors and sex is a serious one. And it also shows that sex education needs to go on at all ages.

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