Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Less sex ed, more pregnant kids

That's the headline on this Salon story: 'A 2006 spike in teen parenthood coincides with increased abstinence-only sex education.'

And this comment gets the prize for best comment ever.

And then, there's this story about so-called "sexting". It's horrifying.


  1. It's quite clear that abstinence only sex education doesn't work. However...

    When I was a child, abortion was illegal, selling contraceptives to minors was illegal, sex education- in progressive communities- consisted of a half hour movie so vague that if you didn't already know what it was about, you wouldn't figure it out from what was on screen... and the illegitimacy rate was about 11%, and STDs among minors so rare it was an alert-the-DA condition when it ocurred. today we have high schools where 1 in 7 girls are pregnant , (on top of the US crossing the 50 million abortions per year plateau), and schools with nearly 1 in 4 having an STD. From what I read in British newspapers, their situation is even worse- and they have comprehensive sex education.

    I'm not saying sex education causes these problems- I support comprehensive sex ed. But it sure isn't stopping them, either. But if you talk about how coarse society has become, you get roundly ridiculed. Is there an answer, or is this just the new norm we have to accept?

  2. On the question of whether sex ed is or isn't stopping them, there actually are data indicating that people who go through comprehensive sex ed delay first intercourse and are more likely to use contraception. (If I have time later I'll look for some links.) There's also some surprising, and counterintuitive, data on teen-pregnancy rates in the 50s vs. today. (Paging DairyStateMom -- she's been tracking this closely.) As for coarseness in society -- yeah, that's an issue, and I've not heard anyone in my community ridiculed for expressing concern about it. OTOH, prosecuting teen-age girls for having themselves photographed nude or semi-nude strikes me as draconian (and I'm **not** accusing you of advocating that, BTW, Joel...)

  3. Yeah, the prosecuting of teens sexting is horrible. D.A.s who ruin lives for political pandering deserve their own special level of Hell.

  4. Joel --- I'm not sure how old you are, so I can't comment intelligently about what year you're discussing with an "illegitimacy rate" of about 11%, but I can tell you that the pregnancy rate among U.S. teen-agers (15-17 years old) reached an all-time high of 96 per 1,000 in 1957, and it's been dropping ever since except for the slight uptick in the last two years. Now it hovers around 50 in 1,000 girls.

    Folks got married younger then, though; the median age for marriage was hovering around 20-ish for women and 22-ish for men in the 50's, and now it's over 25 for both men and women. (And as I'm sure you know, a median age of 20 means that there were as many people younger than 20 getting married as people older than 20. So a lot of teen-agers were getting married.)

    I would be interested to know where your 50 million abortions per year figure comes from. The Guttmacher Institute (also my source on teen pregnancy statistics) gives figures several orders of magnitude lower -- around 1.3 million or 1.2 million annually.

    Finally, I'd agree that our culture is coarser than it was when DSD and I were younger, and that it isn't necessarily a good thing. However, "coarser" once meant that women were showing their ankles and had the effrontery to smoke a cigarette on the street. Cultures change all the time; some things will always exist that are lousy, and some things will always exist that are lovely.

    How about if we agree that comprehensive, fact-based, scientifically sound sexuality education is A Good Thing -- for everyone, not just kids? And how about if we further agree that solid numbers, based on facts, are the best kind to use in education -- or in blog comments?


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