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Better sex education should be a family value

Despite the controversy surrounding the 17 pregnant girls at a Massachusetts high school, both sides of the political spectrum agree it’s a tragedy. There is much debate, however, on how it could have been prevented and how to deal with the recent national increase in teen pregnancy. Enter the conservatives, like the author of this blog, who equates making birth control available to “giving drowning birds water.” While the quip is cute enough, it’s a tenuous analogy at best.

Teenage pregnancies can be curtailed through birth control, and, I would argue, through more comprehensive sex education. My mantra is echoed by those left of center, but I am still amused that the so-called “family values” proponents find it to be heresy. How would preventing the birth of children into families ill-equipped to care for them be immoral? The shortcomings of abstinence only education are well documented—so much so that this post feels a bit like a broken record. But as long as teens are rebellious and promiscuous, which is unlikely to change anytime soon, it will remain true.

I really don’t care if the Massachusetts teens made a pact or not. In nine months it won’t matter how or why they conceived. You can blame the media or Hollywood or their parents, but I’m going to blame conservatives. Their fear of sex education and contraceptives is the perfect combination for teenage pregnancy. And when these kids have kids, the same conservative policies that led to their births will begrudge them welfare and discriminate against them in the workforce. And thus the cycle of poverty continues. A lack of education, a lack of resources, and an abundance of hormones later, the next generation in this tragedy faces a bleak, but not unfamiliar fate.

As scary as it may be, we have to start trusting our children. We have to tell them the truth about sex. We can’t just tell them what’s behind door number one and expect them never to go knocking on any others. And, if they make choices we don’t agree with, we shouldn’t respond by withholding information or contraceptives. Openly and passionately disagree with them, but don’t take a poor choice and make a baby out of it.

5 thoughts on “Better sex education should be a family value”

  1. I do not appreciate your gratuitous mischaracterisation of my post.

    These girls were not trying to avoid pregnancy. They were not unmindful of it, nor were they ignorant about birth control. They deliberately got themselves pregnant – one was even so determined to have a child that she enlisted the help of a homeless man to get her pregnant.

    Giving birth control (and the appropriate education) to girls who want to get pregnant is silly. As I said in my post, it's like giving a fire extinguisher to an arsonist: a great idea in theory, but absolutely inapplicable in this situation.

    It is nothing save foolish to use the tragic situation in Gloucester as an excuse to push any type (abstinence-only, comprehensive, et al) of sex education. These girls are not accidentally pregnant; anything which seeks to reduce accidental pregnancy is a moot point.

    I suspect, however, that you've elided that crucial fact in your post because it does not fit within your agenda for government-mandated sex education. There was once a day when liberals (rightly) feared government intrusion into so personal an area of human existence and decried the attempts of people to institute proper ways of thinking. No more, alas.

  2. "And when these kids have kids, the same conservative policies that led to their births will begrudge them welfare and discriminate against them in the workforce."

    Uh, sure. But the liberal business owners will all hire them and the liberals will donate their own money to help them, right?

    "As scary as it may be, we have to start trusting our children. We have to tell them the truth about sex."

    Who is "we?" The gov't? Planned Parenthood? "We" (my wife and I) have those discussions with our children.

    Of course Planned Parenthood and liberal groups hate abstinence programs. And Burger King probably wishes McDonald’s wasn’t around. But even by Planned Parenthood’s own stats they are a dismal failure at contraception for youths. Overall failure rates for contraceptives (mainly the pill and condoms) are “only” 1 in 8, but things get ugly when you look at sub-groups:

    A poor cohabiting teenager using the Pill has a failure rate of 48.4%. You read that correctly: nearly half of poor cohabiting teenagers get pregnant during their first year using the Pill.

    Over 70% of poor, cohabiting teenagers using condoms, will be pregnant within a year. By contrast, the middle-aged, middle-class married woman has a 6% chance of pregnancy after a year of condom use.

    More here: http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2007/09/17/abstine

  3. Your statistics about the improper use of condoms and birth control by "poor, cohabiting teens" are further proof that sex education is in need of reform. If a "middle-aged, middle-class married woman" can use such prevention methods more effectively, then I believe teens can also be taught to do so.

    The "we" I am referring to was intentionally broad. We, as in you and me, need to take an interest in this issue because it affects all of us. We can't just hole away in our gated communities and only worry that our own children know about safe sex and the importance of waiting until they are married.

    We need more youth mentors for at-risk children. We need more funding for sex education in public schools, and we need to stop using accusatory language against the "poor, cohabiting teenager" who probably never had an adult in their life to set a positive example.

  4. I've got a solution that will make everyone happy. Chastity belts! I hear they have new lighter metals that would reduce the back pain from having to wear something heavy like that around all of the time!

    At the end of the day, kids are going to have sex. I'm completely against abortion, but I'll settle for reduced unwanted babies.

    Pills and condoms for everyone!

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