Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Abstinence vs. Information

Teen sexual behavior has become the subject of a great deal of public debate in America. Over one million teenage girls get pregnant each year. These pregnancies result in about 400,000 abortions, 134,000 miscarriages, and 490,000 births. Over two million teenagers a year are treated for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The two sides in the Culture War have entirely different solutions to the problem of teen sexuality. (Abstinence vs. More information and education about sex)

Abstinence only education only talks about how to say no, but does not offer ANY sort of practical information should the occasion ever arise, as it naturally will. Since you have tons of kids who aren't educated about protection having sex despite the "education" they received, they are left completely open to infection, and pregnancy because some people think that admitting that it exists will some how encourage teens to have sex.

The Washington Post reported in Feb 2008, a high school girl was caught giving head to this guy in school. When the principle asked, she replied "It's not like we were having sex."

The federal investment in abstinence-only education spiked 74 percent under President G. Bush to total $176 million annually. Congress cut $14 million from abstinence education programs last month.

I was watching television and on a law program a teenager was suing her school for teaching abstinence only. She had sex and contracted HIV. She felt that the school failed her in teaching her about protecting herself and therefore left her at a disadvantage by which she contracted HIV.

Do you believe that this institution is solely responsible for providing sex education? What role does the institution of family and religion have in this matter? What are your thoughts of $176 million annually going towards abstinence-only education when teachers are underpaid and many schools don’t have books and adequate supplies?,0,1940597.story


  1. Abstinence-only education regarding teenagers and sexuality is a way of social control. Religion plays a huge part in this form of control being as religious morals and family values is typically center stage on political battlefields as a part of the right wing agenda. The increase in funding to abstinence education under Bush isn't surprising considering he is a member of the Republican party, and a large majority of their support comes from special interest groups whose main concern involves preserving the nuclear family. These groups also advocate to eliminate same-sex marriage and GLBT rights. Basically, they use the concept of religious values to control the masses.

  2. Intresting idea.... what role do the institutions play in the education of children? What exactly is the education system responsible for teaching students about life experiences? I agree with conflicted theorists though in terms of the role that religion plays in social control. I have to clear off my desk so I must post later!!!!! Says Dr. Anahita...

  3. Abstinence only education arises from the political power that some special interest groups hold in America. Whether it be through successful lobbying or monetary contributions, these groups hold the resources that allows them to further their agenda.

    We can't rely on the family to inform their children about safe sex practices, reproduction, and sexually transmitted diseases. We can place the responsibility upon parents but there is no way to guarantee their participation. Same with a religious institutions. Both parents and religious institutions may or may not inform their teens about sex, and we cannot control to what extent. Ultimately, the school is responsible to promote an unbiased education of what is available in order to practice safe sex and where help/more information can be obtained if needed. Also, teach that sexual violence/harassment/molestation happens, how to avoid and or recognize these, and teach them why there is sexual violence (throw in a little sociology in there). Another thing: teaching kids about sexually transmitted disease prevention and treatment. Without acknowledging that many teens/people have sex no matter what you tell them, you are ignoring the existence and danger of sexual violence and disease. Punishing the individual students for getting caught in school does not address the larger problem of disconnected youth, lack of communication between adults and teens, commodification of sex, the media's role in glamorizing sex, lack of hobbies or activities, goals, dreams, absent parents or supervisors at home. The list goes on. If parents and religious institutions cannot provide data, information, and help in regards to sex (whether it be violence, disease, pregnancy, etc) then for the safety and well-being of students, the schools have to provide this information.

  4. There are compelling statistics put forth by either side and this is a decidedly "controversial" topic (for some people). I think, in my opinion, what it comes down to is what role American society believes our schools should play in young adult's lives. It seems that often there is a discussion over how much "parenting" schools do- what is okay to teach, what topics are just appropriate for parents to discuss with their children, etc. In my mind, school does its best when it is preparing you to function effectivly in the world you will be participating in later in life. We learn about cars in shop because we will someday have one and need to know the fundamentals of car maintenance. We learn about nutrition because it enables us to make better educated decisions about how to take care of our bodies properly. I think that we, as a country, should start equating sex ed classes to classes on nutrition or gym; such topics need to be discussed on a basic health level. It seems the problem here is mostly political; rather than concern for people's healthy bodies and minds we would rather give young adults a selective education based on personal beliefs about sex as a "deviant" topic.

  5. I agree with subterranean, that people are focusing too much on the fact that sex, along with sex education, is deviant, and should therefore be repressed. People keep complaining that sex is at the forefront of society like it never has been before, and rather than deal with that in a way that is productive and meaningful for youth, people are caught up in the political side of things.

    Sex has always been at the forefront of society, and it always will be despite certain group's attempts to avoid it - it just never made it into people's living rooms like it has in recent decades. Labeling sex and sexual acts as deviant and teaching abstinence only programs does nothing to educate youth on a potentially dangerous subject. Some may feel that sex is a private matter that only the institution of the family should teach to a child, but in this day and age, with all the risk and dangers out there for those who are sexually active, I believe it is the responsibility of the schools to educate the youth on all matters regarding sex and sexual behavior, so that they can make an informed decision, rather than merely hearing the abstinence only option.

    And it strikes me as curious that all these people are focusing money into abstinence only programs, but if they are so concerned, why don't they focus on the influence other institutions, especially the media, have on the desire of the youth to become sexually active? The media plays a huge part in how the youth of America are being socialized. Why don't they come up with a campaign to combat the commodification of sex that appears EVERYWHERE on the television, movies, and magazines?

  6. Life was not so bad when sex wasn't something to worry about in high school. It was intriguing and something that would happen later on in life anyhow.

    I've read enough books about teenagers who have gotten pregnant in school, and how a huge responsibility like a baby would be, which I knew I wouldn't be able to handle. I've tasted the rest of the world and I wanted more of it before I took on the huge responsiblity of a nuclear family.

    Attributing this outlook would be to my parents who obviously would be very old school, but sex education came from books at the schools. Sex education was available to those who would make the initiative to get up off their hindquarters and pick up a book.

    Initiative that is the main cog to responsibility, and IMHO, to take that away and have someone else do that for you would replace a crucial cog needed for a child to handle the realities of life.

  7. Nutty Haze, no disrespect but uhh the last time I checked being responsible isn't usually something I attribute to most teenagers. This is why there is a teenage pregnancy problem to begin with! As for just reading about sex in a book, that's all fine and good, but first and foremost in the socialization process is a parent's influence. If people really want their children to understand sex and consequences, it has to be taught to them. The only other option is trial and error!

  8. I agree with Conflicted Theorist in regards to Nutty Hazes' comment! The reason there is so much teen pregancy is because many people in our society think like Nutty Haze.. "Teenagers can learn it on their own if they want to.. or put in the time to read about it"! This is not the case, I dont know about anyone else, but when i was a teenager I wasn't interesting in reading about sex, as a teenager I either wanted to hear about it from friends, or watch about it in movies. Which is another result to teen pregancy because our society lets the media portray many different things about sex, and children see it and then act on it!
    ---Our society needs to realize that teenagers ARE going to have sex or be involved in sex acts, therefore we should teach sex education in school, and not rely on other sources to teach our youth about sex, such as parents, media, and through social networking "friends"!


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