Saturday, April 02, 2005

Two Loopholes

Apparently, those earnest young tikes that have sworn their virginity to abstinence pledges have found ways around it - two to be exact. According to the AP's Matt Apuzzo:
Teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, a study of 12,000 adolescents suggests.

The report by Yale and Columbia University researchers could help explain their earlier findings that teens who pledged abstinence are just as likely to have STDs as their peers.

The latest study, published in the April issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that teens pledging virginity until marriage are more likely to have oral and anal sex than other teens who have not had intercourse. That behavior, however, "puts you at risk," said Hannah Brueckner, assistant professor of sociology at Yale and one of the study's authors.

Among virgins, boys who have pledged abstinence were four times more likely to have had anal sex, according to the study. Overall, pledgers were six times more likely to have oral sex than teens who have remained abstinent but not as part of a pledge.

The pledging group was also less likely to use condoms during their first sexual experience or get tested for STDs, the researchers found.
I'm no Clinton fan, but it is ironic, and, yes, very amusing, that the neo-puritans of the Christian Right have turned their children into little "Slick Willies." "Mom, I did not have sex with that..." Well you get the point.

Nevertheless, this goes to a theme I write about ad nauseum: The Christian Right doesn't want to be bound to the physical parameters of this world. Rather, they want to construct public policy according to their theological beliefs and it's hurting the health as well as the intelligence of the country.

Let's be frank,teens are dying to have sex. Abstinence, while certainly an option that should be taught, won't be the norm. Therefore, the way to deal with teens' pubescent urges is to have sex education programs that talk about the grave risks associated with unprotected sexual experiences, whether it be the traditional route or the "two loopholes."

But as this Reuters article details, some proponents of abstinence only sex-ed won't compromise. According to Jimmy Hester, coordinator for True Love Waits, talking with teens abouts safe sex just "waters down the message." So who cares that studies consistly show abstinence only sex-ed doesn't work.
In one of the latest, conducted by researchers in Bush's home state of Texas and released last month, teen-agers in 29 high schools became increasingly sexually active after taking such courses, mirroring overall state trends.
More sinister, an epidemic of misinformation about contraception is contained in these programs:
Another study of the teaching materials used by abstinence programs prepared for California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman in December found that 80 percent of the curricula examined contained false, misleading or distorted information.

Commonly, they taught that condoms were ineffective in preventing sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy and contained false information about the risks of abortion as well as blatantly sexist messages, the report said.
In my home state of Pennsylvania:
[T]he state stopped funding abstinence programs after seeing a study that showed they were not working, but the federal government increased its funding to fill the void, said state health department spokesman Richard McGarvey.
With all the evidence amassing that abstinence only sex-ed programs don't work and may even lead to greater risk of STD among teenagers, what has President Bush done? He's increased spending on abstinence by $39 million while slashing funding on other critical social programs.

The drift toward theocracy continues.