Monday, December 29, 2008

Today's "Duh!" moment

From the WaPo:

Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.

The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a "virginity pledge," but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers

Abstinence-only sex education is an exemplar of the neocon/religious right way of handling problems: wishful thinking. But it's no substitute for education. Teach students about the actual consequences of irresponsible and careless sexual behavior, teach them the benefits of protecting yourself and realizing that you're the one who makes the decisions about your body and no one else, and they'll be much better off. Basic human urges simply can't be swept under the rug with ritualized denialism. But they can be properly controlled and channelled if you have a good idea what can happen to you if you don't exercise a little common sense in knowing when to act, and when not to act, upon those urges.


  1. They don't call it "wishful thinking" they call it "faith-based"...

    The real problem is that I don't think they are really interested in preventing unwanted pregnancies and STDs. What the religious right is interested in is telling people what to do. In fact, I have the suspicion that the religious right is in favor as STDs as a punishment for teens behaving in ways they don't approve of.

  2. Are any other groups besides the consies pushing this sort of thinking?

  3. ImprobableJ: Owch. It's a bit early in the morning for me to have thoughts this vindictive.

  4. My big capstone research project for one of courses in college was on abstinence only sex ed. In my research I consistently found that about 88 to 93 percent of Americans have sex before marriage, about 57 percent or so have had sex by their 19th birthday. Abstinence pledges delayed sex by about 1.5 years, but the kids in those programs were something like 33 percent less likely to use any protection.

    Of course sex ed research is difficult to do, because of the subject matter. respondents are generally more likely to lie, thus creating a larger margin of error than in other studies. My guess is that people lie about using condoms more often than they do, and they lie about when and if they first did it (ie, pushing the age that they first did it back to a later year, or claiming they are a virgin when they are not).

  5. Here is a smashing good read put out by Henry Waxman on the subject, by the way:

  6. ew PDF.

    Thanks for sharing your statistics Robert. What was your sample size and basic methodology, if I may ask?

    I've just come off doing my own thesis, so I'm curious :P

  7. It was not a thesis, or a study that I did personally, merely, I ran across about a 8 or some different studies, and that is what I found. No joke, the Henry Waxman report, which says that 88 percent of Americans have premarital sex was the most conservative figure I found. I will not have to do a real thesis for another year and a half now when I finish up my masters.

  8. @Improbable Joe
    In fact, I have the suspicion that the religious right is in favor as STDs as a punishment for teens behaving in ways they don't approve of.

    Ding! Winner!

    JohnPaul II's vatican made pronouncements that AIDS was god's punishment on gay people. Which is why AIDS advocates had Ryan White meet with the pope when he made one of his US tours. They had to backtrack a little over that, but it didn't shut them up.
    Almost every medical advance which stopped some evil disease was condemned by some moralist as somehow subverting god's will (so, your omnipotent god can't get around a vaccine?).
    The religious right is no different.

  9. But we have to respect religion! After all, look at all the good it has done!

  10. The real problem is that I don't think they are really interested in preventing unwanted pregnancies and STDs.

    I think you're right. Witness their reaction to the announcement that Sarah Palin's 17 year old daughter got pregnant out of wedlock with a high school dropout. You would think Palin won a badge of honor or something.

  11. Sigh....I never understood what was so scary about telling teens (in a more mature way than I'm about to) what happens when you spill your goof-juice in a lady's hoo-ha. You can't just tell kids not to have sex. For the majority of them (yes, even the little theist angels), just telling them that will probably make them want to do it more.

  12. I'm expecting my first child, a baby girl, in May. This topic has become constant in my head...I mean, there's the father's desire for his girl not to even date until she's 25. However, since I'm realistic, her mother and I will do our best to explain how to be smart and safe and always keep an open line of communication with us, but without being overbearing, diary-reading parents. Abstinence only is something neither of us would ever force on our kids.

  13. "I've just come off doing my own thesis, so I'm curious :P"

    That must be one racy thesis, C.

  14. As the resident Conservative Right-Wing Monster, I would like to mention that plenty of US think Abstinence Only sex ed is t3h st00p1d.

    Imagine Abstinence Only Nutrition!

    No discussions of the particular chemistry or biology of food, the practical needs and effects of various diets, how to exercise (and what happens when you don't), just what calories and carbs and vitamins ARE and DO, the skill and craft of cooking, etc.

    None of that; just tell the kids to eat three balanced meals a day and say nothing else.

    Yeah, that would work.

  15. Brain: Conservative ≠ Neocon, most of the time.

  16. Teenagers have sex and lie about it? Wow, what a shocker.


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