Teen sex in America

Back in 2002, the government funded a study that showed there was no evidence that abstinence programs increased a kid’s likelihood of abstaining from sex. In fact, no studies have found evidence that teaching abstinence works to prevent teenage pregnancies. And yet this year, the federal government will fund abstinence-only education to the tune of $85 million.

Last week, for the third year in a row, President Barack Obama’s budget proposal included cuts to some $10 million of that abstinence-only education funding…In 2010, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States took a poll and found that 88 percent of parents of junior high school students and 85 percent of parents of high school students believe information about how to use and where to get contraceptives is an appropriate topic for sexuality education. Even Obama’s first budget as president aimed to make similar cuts to abstinence education funding. GOP members of Congress fought it, and the attempt ultimately failed. The same happened in 2010 and is pretty likely to happen this time, too.

All this means that over the past two decades, more than $1.8 billion in federal dollars have been funneled into abstinence-only education…

Meanwhile, as the various wings of the government have been fighting over what dollars go where, teen pregnancy rates have plummeted to record lows over the past three years. What’s more, rates fell 51 percent between 1990 and 2010. The reasons for the decline are complicated and hard to pinpoint; some studies give credit to better contraception and more precise use of it.

But when it comes to American teens and sex, we still have a lot of problems to fix…From 2000 to 2014, the number of schools that required kids to learn about STD prevention dropped by 10 percent. To combat the rising rates of STDs and the lack of education, different states are taking different approaches…California passed a law last year that requires comprehensive sex education in schools for 2016. San Francisco schools are considering making condoms available to students as early as sixth grade. They would not be the first California schools to do so; Oakland Unified schools implemented a similar policy in 2014. On the opposite end of the spectrum, last year Texas took $3 million from its state budget for HIV and STD prevention and reallocated it to abstinence education.

I think the map up top clearly leads to a conclusion that states with the best record for education have the lowest birthrates. States that follow the lead of 19th Century minds get 19th Century results – or worse. Better educated teens will get up-to-date info even if they have to search it out online, via Planned Parenthood or elsewhere. That may put backwards adults into the dreamland of bunched-up knickers; but, the kids are all right and are learning to take care of themselves when parents and teachers follow the lead of pundits and preachers who are decades past their sell-by-date.

After decline, teenage pregnancy rate rises – Thanks, George


Bristol Palin, poster child for abstinence-only results
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

After more than a decade of declining teenage pregnancy, the pregnancy rate among girls ages 15 to 19 increased 3 percent from 2005 to 2006 — a turnaround likely to intensify the debate over federal financing for abstinence-only sex education.

The teenage abortion rate also crept up for the first time in more than a decade, rising 1 percent from 2005 to 2006, according to an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit research group…

While teenage pregnancy rates for whites remain far lower than for Blacks and Hispanics, the pregnancy rates increased for all three groups…

The Guttmacher analysis examined federal data on teenage sex, births and abortion, along with the institute’s own abortion statistics…

This new study makes it crystal clear that abstinence-only sex education for teenagers does not work,” said Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The Clinton administration began financing abstinence-only programs as part of welfare reform, but such programs got a large boost in the Bush administration.

The Obama administration has moved away from abstinence-only programs, creating a new teenage-pregnancy initiative in which most financing will go to programs that have been shown to prevent pregnancy, with some experimental approaches…

There are continuing efforts to reinstate financing for abstinence-only education as part of the health-reform legislation.

A definition of insanity includes repeating something over and over and expecting a different result.

Rightwing ideologues who place blind obedience to religion, 19th Century educational standards, over knowledge and science aren’t going to change the retrograde guidance of their politics. Results are meaningless to True Believers.

Hopefully, a majority of this ill-educated nation will eventually come to an age of reason.

Have unhappy STD news? Break it with an e-card


Breaking up over e-mail is a social no-no. But sending an e-card telling someone to get tested for STDs may be a public health courtesy.

A California-based nonprofit allows users to send free e-cards notifying their sexual partners to get tested for STDs.

Since 2004, a free Web site, inSpot.org has allowed users to anonymously notify their partners to get tested for STDs such as HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.

It may not be the most personal way of delivering the news, but researchers say it beats not saying anything at all.

I’ll bet some spammer will figure out how to make money from this. Somehow.