Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sex-ed Should be Based on Science - Not Hypocrisy

Abstinence-only sex-ed defies common sense
Education policy spreads ignorance, sends confusing message to teens
By Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.

In the above article, Arthur Caplan criticizes the “hypocritical” focus of the majority of Americans on the obviously unsuccessful abstinence-only sex education programs. Recent surveys show that 70 percent of U.S. teens have engaged in oral sex by the time they reach 18, and more than 45 percent have had intercourse at least once – not to mention the number of rape cases. More than 70 percent of young women and 80 percent of young men approve of premarital sex, according to a study published recently in the Review of General Psychology.

Everyone agrees that sex education is necessary at the junior high and high school level, but the specific guidelines as to the content of sex education vary by state. In South Carolina, state law severely restricts discussion about contraception, abortion, and homosexuality. The current government, firmly in the abstinence-only camp, is wasting billions of taxpayers’ dollars on abstinence-only sex education programs. The rising spread of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) among teens reported by the CDC proves, in part, the failure of such programs. Dr. Caplan claims that many parents who preach abstinence-only-until-marriage while their children are in high school, and promptly change their tune when the same kids begin college, themselves had premarital sex with their prospective spouses. Dr. Caplan concludes that science and common sense should be the basis of sex education rather than hypocrisy and wishful thinking.

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1 comment:

davegkugler said...

This topic seems to be drawing a lot of attention recently, did you see the article about Yale's education week (Yahoo article)? That was a nice article you referenced...do you know how U.S. rates of STDs and premarital sex compare to other industrialized nations? I would be curious (rhetorical; I will try to look it up). As stated, education should be based on the biology – and standardized across the nation. Otherwise, we are leaving this type of education to other media where teens will likely get a misconstrued, hyped, and fanciful version. By our leadership (sadly) we are currently a very conservative nation. The abstinence-until-marriage policy has also been our international stance. Several reports have illustrated how that is going. I do not have an outright opposition to the abstinence message, but I do not feel it is adequate alone. One message, no matter what it is, will never be enough.